The “Silver Bullet” to High Performance in High Tech

Think of the most technical person you know. Now think of some personal characteristics that describe this person.

It’s likely you have identified characteristics such as rational, logical, smart, critical, pragmatic, and analytical. It’s also likely that you did NOT choose characteristics such as empathetic, thoughtful, social, outgoing, communicative, or intimate.

There’s a reason for this. Highly technical people (HTPs) have developed deeply rooted habits from early childhood, based on brain function and neural pathways. Simply put, highly technical people have learned to often rely on cognitive processes throughout life, and to ignore, at least as much as possible, some of the social-emotional processes that influence actions and behaviors.

In most cases, the highly technical person (HTP) was likely identified and labeled as a “smart kid” in childhood, because of things like school test scores, IQ scores, mathematical ability, SAT results, and other academic assessment. Along the way, technical training and successful reliance on problem solving enabled and facilitated the use of cognitive neural pathways as a dominant “modus operandi.” This can often stand in the way of development of some emotional social intelligence competencies, such as empathy, interpersonal relationship, and emotional self-awareness – while mastering others, such as assertiveness, independence, and stress tolerance.

Changing deeply-rooted habits is difficult, and takes time and practice. Learning new behaviors such as taking a positive approach to people instead of avoiding them, empathetic listening, developing quality work relationships, and being emotionally aware is not an easy task. One must proactively think differently by considering facts, logic, emotion, and feeling in an integrated and holistic way. To do this, one must first unlearn old habits in order to develop new habits.

Rueven Bar-On, a leader in the field of EI, defined emotional social intelligence is a number of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands. This differs from IQ which is a measure of a person’s analytical, mathematical and logical reasoning capabilities. By leveraging emotional and social competencies with intellect, one can make the best decisions – leading to higher performance on the job, and higher performance within the social unit of or within the organization.

The beauty of emotional social intelligence, or also known as EQ, is that it can be developed through coaching, training, application, and development.

There is no relationship between IQ and EQ, meaning that a person with high IQ does not necessarily have high EQ. As a result, organizations that hire “smart” people as a standard will get “smart” employees, many of which are below average in some emotional social intelligence competencies. Technical organizations experience this through poor communications, inadequate technical teams, competitive environments, and incompetent leadership- such as the newly-promoted, first-time manager in a high tech organization who was promoted because of his/her technical expertise and knowledge, only to fail in leadership because of an inability to connect with others.

Imagine if high tech organizations focused on making highly emotional social intelligent HTPs the standard. Employees in this environment would be rational, logical and technically competent, but who can also build relationships and connect with others, through things like empathy, social awareness, teamwork, exceptional communication, openness to alternative viewpoints, and openness to new experiences. What a rare, but powerful, combination!

Technical organizations that can develop teams of highly emotional social intelligent HTP’s are almost guaranteeing high performance in their business outcomes. Technical people that have high emotional social intelligence have the ability to transform the way things are done in the organization, where the role of human relations takes on as much (if not more) significance than the actual technical activities that result in a product or service.

It goes without saying that some professions absolutely require emotional social intelligence, such as sales, politics, leadership, teachers, and social workers. But research has shown that people in the technical profession that have mastered the entire ESI skill set quickly move ahead of the pack. Imagine the whole pack being emotionally and socially intelligent- a great competitive advantage in the world of high tech.