The Fourth Pillar of Emotional Intelligence: Relationship Management
Relationship management is our fourth and final pillar of emotional intelligence. Relationship is a critical component of work within institutions. Whether we examine the professor-student relationship or the peer relationship between colleagues, good interpersonal skills and social intelligence helps us generate positive results. Relationship management involves deploying the empathy and organizational awareness I wrote about in the previous essay. Good relationship management skills show up as collegiality, leadership ability and influence, conflict management and negotiation, teamwork, and change leadership.
There are 6 total competencies in the literature underneath the “Relationship Management” pillar.
Inspiration: the ability to create resonance in others and move people with a compelling vision or shared mission.
Influence: Knowing how to speak so that the audience will hear; understanding how to build buy-in and support for ideas and initiatives. Can be persuasive and engaging when speaking to a group.
Developing others: The ability to recognize other’s strengths and weaknesses and encourage development or offer feedback as appropriate. People with high emotional intelligence often excel at coaching and mentoring others.
Change catalyst: Being a catalyst for change involves not only recognizing the need for it, but possessing the ability to challenge the status quo and gather support for exploration of new possibilities. A change catalyst sees barriers and obstacles and relies on their social acumen (like influence, empathy, and collaboration) to overcome them.
Conflict management: People with high emotional intelligence are less likely to avoid difficult conversations, as they recognize the value in moving through and past conflict and attaining a new level of shared understanding. Those who excel in conflict management surface the conflict, acknowledge the feelings and views of all sides, and then redirect the energy toward a shared ideal.
Teamwork and collaboration: So much of our work — regardless of our industry — is teamwork. Effective teamwork and collaboration in the EQ framework means contributing to a collegial environment, characterized by respect, honesty, and cooperation.
Here, I’ll focus on just two of these competencies developing others and being a catalyst for change. Developing others, in the EQ context, resembles coaching or mentoring. People with a high ability to develop others not only recognize the strengths and weaknesses others have, but are able to offer encouragement or constructive feedback as warranted and offer these from a place of generosity and true wish for the development of the other person.
Developing others is an emotionally intelligent skill that involves not only positive, constructive feedback and answers that help others grow and learn, but also cultivating reciprocal relationships with substance and quality. So, it is not entirely a one-way street in which a person with more seniority or authority mentors a more junior person. Rather, it involves each of us cultivating the curiosity to ask questions and become involved with others and their agendas and, at the same time, cultivating the vulnerability to be open about our own interests and priorities.
Being a catalyst for change is a critical skill in academia and allows academics to take the exploration and boundary-expanding work of their research and teaching and apply it to their organizational practices. People who are effective change catalysts see barriers and rely on their social acumen to overcome these barriers, using influence, empathy, and collaboration. They focus on gathering support for change and constructively pushing an agenda forward.
Rather than change for the sake of change, people who are change catalysts are keenly aware of complacency and stagnation and seek improvement through productive change. The social and emotional intelligence that change catalysts possess help them to connect others with the value of change, to get buy-in from various stakeholders,
and to anticipate and overcome potential challenges to change. Collaboration and curiosity, qualities that show up in other EQ competencies as well, contribute to the change catalyst gathering support for change and not approaching change with an adversarial mindset.
Strengthening your ability to develop others and to grow your abilities as a change catalyst involves, as you might expect, several intersecting EQ competencies. In the interconnected system of our emotional intelligence, relationship management relies on flexibility, optimism, curiosity, and empathy: skills and practices that are key to the other three pillars, as well.