One of the key personal characteristics Jeff and I look for in an MGO is emotional intelligence.
Wikipedia defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
Emotional intelligence is often a skill or ability a person is born with. But it can also be learned.
Robert and Jeanne Segal, the founders of HelpGuide, state that emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:
- Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
- Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
You can see how these attributes can play an important role in the success of an MGO.
In the past few months I have witnessed a substantial change in MGOs I have worked with. They have used their self-awareness and discipline to manage their emotions and impulsiveness to morph into very socially aware and successful relationship managers. It is so gratifying to watch this change because it brings the MGO up to a level of performance and acceptance in their environment that goes way beyond the path she was originally on.
Quoting again from the Segal material: “As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.”
I’m writing this piece on emotional intelligence because Jeff and I have become aware of how important it is to the success of anyone working in major gifts. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you aren’t emotionally intelligent then you should not work in this field. The major gifts sector of fundraising is not about being intelligent, although that helps. It is about relating to others, picking up their emotional cues, reading what they are saying but not saying, etc. If you can’t do this, it will be impossible for you to be successful in this area.
Take a moment to inventory your emotional intelligence. The Segal’s offer a very simple way to do it. In their view, emotional intelligence consists of five key skills, each building on the last:
- The ability to quickly reduce stress
- The ability to recognize and manage your emotions
- The ability to connect with others using nonverbal communication
- The ability to use humor and play to deal with challenges
- The ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence
Are you good at all of these? If not, take steps to learn more about this important area. You can go to the Segal’s site and learn more. Also, Daniel Goleman has written a best selling book on this subject: Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ. Pick up a copy and read it.
It’s never too late to learn how to be more emotionally intelligent.