Board Members, Test Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence—the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions as well as those of others—has been shown to be a key differentiator between being a good board member and great board member. But practicing emotional intelligence is harder than it looks. In times of crisis, many boards are tempted to regard emotional intelligence as a dispensable “soft” skill, instead of the absolute foundational basis for leadership it is.

When push comes to shove, do you let your emotional intelligence take a back seat to other priorities? Take this quiz to determine your Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ). For each question, please check one box that most nearly describes your own practice. Evaluate your results at the end of the quiz to determine your EIQ score.

1. You are attending a boring board meeting. You . . .

a. [ ] Send instant messages to other participants at the meeting.
b. [ ] Check your smart phone for emails.
c. [ ] Attend to the agenda as best you can.

2. You make a mistake and your board suffers as a consequence. You . .

a. [ ] Apologize by email.
b. [ ] Let it go and move on.
c. [ ] Apologize in person to the board members who were affected.

3. A board member with a different opinion is addressing you. You . . .

a. [ ] Listen for a convenient opportunity to state your opinion.
b. [ ] Focus on the arguments that you will make to ensure the outcome of the conversation goes your way.
c. [ ] Listen carefully with a view to being able to repeat the other person’s opinion.

4. How often do you ask questions to which you already have the answer?

a. [ ] Sometimes.
b. [ ] Frequently.
c. [ ] Never.

5. At a company function you are introduced to three people you never met before. Ten minutes later what do you remember?

a. [ ] Maybe the name of the first person you met.
b. [ ] It’s a blank. You’ve always been terrible with names.
c. [ ] The first and last names of all three people.

6. A visitor arrives at the company reception area for a scheduled meeting. You have an important conversation to finish. You . . .

a. [ ] Call the front desk to make sure the guest is comfortable and ask the receptionist to convey your apology for making him or her wait.
b. [ ] The guest will wait a few minutes. The conversation has priority.
c. [ ] Stop what you’re doing and greet the visitor.

7. When was the last time you wrote a note appreciating a colleague?

a. [ ] Never.
b. [ ] Not in the last six months, but sometime.
c. [ ] Within the last six months.

8. On what terms are you with the company’s receptionists, administrative assistants, and maintenance people?

a. [ ] They greet you by name. You say hello.
b. [ ] They greet you by name. You nod.
c. [ ] They greet you by name. You greet them by name.

9. Have you ever criticized a fellow board member in public?

a. [ ] Sometimes. Some transgressions demand a public dressing down.
b. [ ] Frequently. Everyone needs to be aware that you don’t tolerate failure.
c. [ ] Never. You criticize in private.

10. Your associates at work have private lives. You . .

a. [ ] Have heard about their spouses and children.
b. [ ] Don’t believe in getting involved with colleagues’ private lives.
c. [ ] Have met many of their spouses and children.

Scoring Instructions

Score one point for each time you selected answer “a.” Score zero points for each “b”. Score two points for “c.” Total your points.

Score Your EIQ

0-5 Ouch!
Who’s your EI coach? Atilla the Hun?

6-10 Getting Warmer
Emotional Intelligence appears to be a low priority for you. Talk less and listen more. It may be a stretch goal, but putting more focus on EI in your board work will almost certainly promote your working relationships and advance the chances for success of initiatives you champion. It also will likely improve the board culture, making it a more productive as well as pleasant environment for everyone.

11-15 You’re Hot
You have integrated EI into most aspects of your professional life. It’s likely that your board relationships are productive and characterized by high trust. When it comes to EI, you are operating at a truly high level. Look for opportunities to further enrich board culture by modeling EI in matters large and small.

16-20 Can you Coach Us?
Congratulations! There’s not much we can teach you about EI. You model it in every aspect of board work and across the hierarchy. There is no doubt you are a change agent of value to every board that has the privilege of having your allegiance.