Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who has the higher Emotional Intelligence, Gen Y or Baby Boomers?

So, I began my MBA this week. Two classes on leadership and one on operations management. The extra ten hours a week of class has slowed my blogging output but has provided some good material. One of my leadership classes is focused on the concept of Emotional Intelligence or E.Q. This "revolutionary" concept basically states that an understanding and proper application of one's own emotions and how they impact others are key factors in becoming a leader. In fact, a myriad of recent studies have shown that EQ is twice as important to success than IQ (EI2) Now, I don't want to go into detail on what E.Q. is. Go wikipedia it or check out the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0

But, I do want to talk about the levels of EQ by generation. The largest EQ gap is between Baby Boomers and Gen Y concerning self-management  (EI2). Baby Boomers are able to "self-manage" far better than Gen Y, and that shouldn't be a surprise. It makes sense that as a person goes through life, he/she would have a better understanding of their own emotions and how to harness them appropriately. Whereas, Gen Y-er's have a passion that can lead to recklessness. But, emotional intelligence does not mean stifling one's own emotions. It means utilizing them to become a stronger leader, and this is where I see tremendous opportunity for Gen Y and a weakness in Baby Boomers.

I'm by far the youngest student in this leadership class, and my perspective of the class seems to be drastically different than those of the other students, who are primarily Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. While, I'm nodding my head at the idea that self and social awareness/management is crucial to the successful functioning of a business. The many older managers in the class argue that emotions have little importance in a business setting. "Leave your emotions at the door" or "Don't take it personally, it's just business." It caught me completely off-guard. How is a person supposed to ignore an inherent part of their nature, emotion? I don't think that anyone can smother their emotions completely. Chances are all that pent up feeling will manifest itself in the most inappropriate situation. But, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe, these Baby Boomers can act in an emotional vacuum. But, I think it's a shame if they do.

Where will the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship come from? How will employees be inspired to work towards an organizations vision? Why would customers be loyal and supportive of the business?

This is where Gen-Y's opportunity is. Take a lesson from the Baby Boomers and become self-aware and manage your emotions properly. Don't mope around in failure and don't become rash or arrogant in success.  But, do not stifle your emotions. Build from your passion and learn to communicate the same zeal to others. Become a leader in your area of influence, whether that be in the classroom, the office, or in your personal endeavors.

Let me know your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence. What strengths and weaknesses do you see in different generations?

'Til next time,

Gen_Y Mike

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