What is your EQ Atmosphere?

To many people’s surprise, effective leadership does not require development with a preset combination of EQ Elements. If it did, an excellent leader in one system or endeavor should be able to repeat her success anywhere else, and clearly this does not happen. The combination of EQ Elements we have each developed predisposes us to greater luck in some teams or leadership roles than others. To really understand the leadership needs and expectations of any given leadership role, you should know the culture, or what OKA has come to call the EQ Atmosphere, of that group.

OKA has developed an exercise for groups and teams to explore their unique culture in EQ terms—it is process by which groups can derive their EQ Atmosphere. The exercise has participants conduct a forced-sorting of the 15 EQ-i Elements into three groups of five (5 essential behaviors, 5 moderately important behaviors and 5 relatively expendable behaviors). Once sorted into groups of 5, participants then rank order the top three and bottom three EQ Elements, reporting these out. For added validity (and drama), we often have groups or teams divide into sub-groups to do this sorting, disclosing their top and bottom three selections all at once. What is telling is when the sub-groups (with no interaction with each other) come up with the same rank ordering. Clearly this exercise shines a light on the unique culture, values and collective expectations that groups and teams have and gives an interesting insight to what leadership qualities would be most effective within that team or group.


15 Elements of the EQ-i 2.0 Model

Self-Perception Elements Self-Expression Elements Interpersonal Elements Decision Making Elements Stress Management Elements
Self-Regard Emotional Expression Interpersonal Relationship Problem Solving Flexibility
Self-Actualization Assertiveness Empathy Reality Testing Stress Tolerance
Emotional Self-Awareness Independence Social Responsibility Impulse Control Optimism



Interpersonal Relationship 2

Customer Service Team

Not long ago OKA engaged a Customer Service Team, whose EQ Atmosphere emphasized service to others over self-concerns or issues.


EQ Elements most valued or rewarded by this culture—we act as if what is most important? EQ Elements most expendable or devalued by this culture—we act as if what is least important?
  1. Interpersonal Relationship
13. Self-Regard
  1. Problem Solving
14. Emotional Self-Awareness
  1. Flexibility
15. Emotional Expression


Co-workers aggressively arm wrestling for dominanceTechnology Managers

A more traditional group of Manager/Supervisors from the IT field had an EQ Atmosphere that emphasized pointed engagement and assertiveness over more relational concerns.


EQ Elements most valued or rewarded by this culture—we act as if what is most important? EQ Elements most expendable or devalued by this culture—we act as if what is least important?
  1. Assertiveness
13. Empathy
  1. Problem Solving
14. Emotional Self-Awareness
  1. Self-Actualization
15. Social Responsibility


Before we can ask EQ-i training participants to reflect on their results and select an EQ Element on which each will work to develop, we must first give them some idea of their EQ Atmosphere. Emotional Expression may be my lowest scoring Element, but if I am managing the Customer Service Team, that is an Element that I may well not need. If I’m a Supervisor in the IT group, Assertiveness may well be what I most need to work on—even if it is not one of my lower scores.

Click here to see a video of a group doing the EQ Atmosphere exercise.

EQ Activity Cards

OKA’s EQ Activity Cards (a great support tool for the EQ Atmosphere Exercise)



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