What network admins should know about emotional intelligence

Technical skills may still be paramount in the enterprise, but a higher EQ could make the difference in how you collaborate with key stakeholders

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As network administrators go, Jacques is a rock star. In the three years he’s been with Acme Corporation, Jacques’s boss has complimented his technical skills and he’s been profiled in the company newsletter for his innovative approach to slashing help desk ticket response times.

But when Jacques applied for a systems analyst position inside Acme recently, he wasn’t even invited to interview. Technically, he is smarter and has more certifications than most people in his department, but Jacques lacks something that may be even more important to career advancement: emotional intelligence.

In a nutshell, EI refers to one’s ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions, according to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ. These days, when companies hire, promote and develop employees, he suggests they are routinely looking through the lens of emotional intelligence.

Though Jacques is a fictitious network administrator, it’s a scenario that is probably playing out in IT departments across the country.  IT professionals who are technically superior, but less socially adept than their colleagues can be overlooked for promotions and stalled in their careers.

Successfully climbing the corporate ladder often depends on how well one can manage and lead people, and that begins with effective communication, according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review.

“The more important it becomes to work with others, teaching and telling them what they must do, what tasks they must accomplish, and goals they must achieve. The very soft skills that so many often try to avoid become increasingly important as your ability to train, manage, and work with other people takes up larger portion of your working life.”

As IT becomes more integrated into the business, tech professionals are expected to be able to understand the business, communicate ideas, negotiate and successfully lead teams, according to a recent post on ITbusinessedge.com.

“The countless technical certifications hanging on your wall still matter (and always will), but if you aren’t able to communicate that knowledge effectively, you may have fewer opportunities for advancement.”

The good news is there are tips and tricks to those challenged in the softer skills become more effective communicators and more promising candidates for career advancement.

Fake it ‘til you make it: To advance in business, dress for the job you want, not the one you have, goes the saying. As aspiring leaders, IT professionals need to demonstrate their ability to lead and inspire teams and ditch bad behaviors such as micromanaging, bullying and indecisiveness.

Express yourself: A little appreciation goes a long way; give props to your colleagues for a job well done.

Feedback loop: Ask trusted colleagues for feedback on your interaction with others, writes Rich Hein Follow in an article on CIO.com earlier this year.

“Often times we see ourselves one way and others see us in a completely different light.”

Get schooled: Many leadership training organizations such as Gartner offer training on emotional intelligence. There are also online resources and private consultants to help improve key leadership skills.

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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