If you joined the 3.3 billion people on the globe who watched the final game of the 2006 World Cup between France and Italy, that name is very familiar. Prior to that game, Zidane was recognized as France’s soccer stud. It was during the conclusion of the contest that Zidane performed an act of unbelievably poor sportsmanship—an act that banished him from the game and branded his career. His infamous head-butt against an Italian player earned him a red card and an immediate ejection. In many ways, his action was so brutal and provocative that the game’s final score (Italy won in a shoot-out) seems almost inconsequential.
So, what happened with Zidane? What caused him to not only use his head but lose it? It came down to little more than acting before thinking. We all do it, just hopefully to lesser degrees. But, why is it that some people respond to and manage situations better than others? It’s called emotional intelligence (EI). And, if there’s any stage where it is particularly necessary, it’s the workplace.
A number of facts back this up. In studies performed by TalentSmart, a training and development organization, there is a definite link between an employee’s emotional quotient (EQ) and his/her job performance. Consider these findings:
- EQ alone explains 58% of a leader’s job performance
- 90% of top performers score high in EI assessments
- Only 20% of low performers test high in EI assessments
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, seems to agree. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, he said, “A leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. A leader has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity, and self-control. My experience says it is actually more important than book smarts in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.”
So, the next time you need to navigate a challenging situation or you become the target of some choice words, give yourself a split second to pause. It might just save your career and your reputation.
Mark de Roo is President of Keystone Coaching & Consulting, LLC in Holland, Michigan. As a coach, he specializes in leadership development, personal productivity improvement, and career development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org