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    MGMA Staff Members
    Bill Benjamin, an expert in performing under pressure and leadership development, takes us through an understanding of emotional intelligence and the role it plays in the success of individuals and a medical group.

    The term emotional intelligence was discovered through a Harvard research study based on medical and law school graduates from their institution. This observation analyzed the relationships among IQ, technical skills, and emotional intelligence then compared them to the status of success for each individual. IQ comprised their intellectual capacity, technical skills were how well they knew their field of business, and emotional intelligence included the remaining factors that contributed to their achievements. Participants were evaluated every five years over a 40-year period to determine their varying levels of success.

    It was determined that IQ was not an accurate predictor of success. The only correlation was around individuals with an extremely high IQ who had fewer markers for success when compared to others. Additionally, a combination of technical skills and IQ did not predict success like initially predicted. It was concluded that these two competencies are threshold factors, meaning that you must have a certain level of these to perform any task, but the most successful individuals have a level of emotional intelligence that carries them beyond these two traits.  
    Why it matters:
    Emotional intelligence is not as complicated as one might think. What it comes down to is an individual’s reaction to a situation when put under pressure. It is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. Each person has unique responses when confronted with challenging situations, whether it is becoming defensive (fight) or avoiding conflict (flight). In a medical practice this can present in a number of ways: difficult physician or employee conversations, danger of not meeting important deadlines, concerned patient interactions, etc.

    What makes for a great leader and favorable medical group culture is awareness and management of these reactions. Awareness can come from self-reflection as well as understanding the responses of those around.

    It is important to understand your personal behavior to a situation and how this impacts the decision making. Everyone has these emotional responses and how we reflect and learn from them will move us from a task-oriented leader to a more inclusive resource.

    While self-realization is very important, we must not forget that others will have reactions to these situations just as we do. Each person’s response may not present the same as any other and you must be able to understand their position and connect with them. Each interaction will be based on logic from that perspective and needs to be validated. This emotional connection will gain trust and respect from others and prove that you are capable of comprehension beyond IQ or technical skills.

    There are many strategies that can be used, such as the SOS and Building Bridges, that can be used to evaluate and further understand how to navigate these tricky scenarios and produce the best results. As professionals we must be able to skillfully address the challenges of a medical practice and distinguish when we can execute more effective management through our understanding of emotional intelligence.
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