When I was a young maintainer, fresh out of Tech School, my focus was on increasing my IQ by completing CDCs and enrolling in college courses. Like most professional Airmen, I tied my success to doing well on promotion tests, PME, and knowing my job. I felt that to reach my fullest potential, I had to hit the books hard and that would help me get my next stripe. However, in hindsight, one of the biggest elements of success that I have come to rely on just as much as my IQ is my EQ or Emotional Quotient.

EQ (Also known as emotional intelligence) is defined as an individual's ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions. People with high EQ usually make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize, and connect with the people around them. Some would call this having “soft skills”. In fact, David Goleman, one of the founders of the term emotional quotient, once said, “In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding”. In other words, the people who implement the human side of what it takes to be successful are the ones who embody the core value of “Excellence in all we do”. As leaders, mentors, peers and friends, we must find a balance of both EQ and IQ to bring the best of ourselves to the mission.

Here are 3 reasons why EQ can help boost your IQ: 

  1. Perceiving Emotions:  In order to understand emotions, we must first identify/perceive them appropriately. A leader who is unable to gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they are placed in charge of, is inevitably going to have a harder time than those who can. When you ask your Airman how they are doing, and they say “fine” with crossed arms and poor eye contact, this can be a telltale sign to engage further.  Body language and facial expressions tell a story all their own and studies show that effective communication is 7% the words we use and 93% tone and body language.
  2. Managing Reasoning:  Leaders who are more self-aware can develop skills that will help them manage their own emotions, allowing them to respond more effectively to situations that arise.  We must pause and think before reacting with raw emotion. When we think critically, we make better decisions.  It can be detrimental to react without filters.  This behavior may erode the relationships and credibility we have built overtime. Simply put, leaders can’t afford to lose their cool and make rash decisions because they are upset with a situation or individual.
  3. Understanding Emotions:  Emotions can come from a wide variety of sources.  For example, if an Airman is angry, as a leader we must ask ourselves why.  Did they have a fight with their spouse, are they upset with a work assignment given to them, is there an upcoming deployment that has them concerned and out of character? Former Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson said, “Put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. When one has empathy, the capacity to feel compassion is open.”  During my years as a First Sergeant I helped many Airman work through difficult situations.  For each one of those interactions, I always sought to understand before I acted or passed judgment.  When I put myself in their shoes I was better able to relate to their wants and needs. We’ve all seen how someone with a negative attitude can spread like wildfire throughout the work center bringing morale down with them.  Being emotionally intelligent allows us to affect change positively and help not only that person but those around them. 

Empathy and authenticity or EQ, can help us create a more connected environment here at Yokota or anywhere else we are needed as leaders. A constant theme that I have learned from my mentors on this journey to becoming SNCO is that some skills cannot be taught. Some leadership principles must be gained from experience, active listening and learning from others, no matter who they may be. Our unique and diverse force is comprised of people with different strengths, personalities and emotions which all affect the way we do work.  My message to you in today’s challenging times can best be summed up by the following quote: from David Caruso “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head--it is the unique intersection of both.”

-Chief Master Sgt. Michael Wynne, 730th Air Mobility Squadron