Written by Sarah Speers, Director, Global Product Accreditation
The year was 1998. I was in the first year of a trainee occupational psychologist role after finishing my undergraduate degree in psychology. Naïve, immature, and excited (dare I say ecstatic) about my future with no idea how or where I was going, I was enjoying the ride and grabbing every opportunity. Psychometrics were my new world – completing them for myself, assessing graduates, and training others to use them. My career had officially begun.
Armed with a wealth of knowledge, I was an extraverted, rule conscious, highly conscientious, trusting, laid back recent graduate armed with both numerical and verbal skills, but what was I to do with it and how was I to use it?
The birth of EIP
On a good day, everything would go well. I would turn up with the team to support at an assessment center feeling confident in my role and with a positive outcome. On a less good day, I would be up all night overpreparing, fearing the worst, questioning everything I was doing, and constantly seeking reassurance. What was going on and how could my days be so variable? Whatever I learned about my ability and personality didn’t seem to be helping me to develop more positive and sustainable behaviors.
This was also the question being asked more and more in our coaching projects – the ‘so what’ question. “I have my personality questionnaire results and 360 data but so what? What can I do to change my behavior?” Through this – and the work my colleague Jo Maddocks was delivering in the 90s with demotivated young people who often had low motivation and poor self-esteem – it became apparent that beneath the behavioral challenges were a set of attitudinal blocks. If we could shift attitudes to a more positive position, individuals would be less likely to revert back to negative, unhelpful behaviors. Discussing attitudes and feelings as a route to changing behavior became the basis for developing our own attitude-based model of emotional intelligence, and so the EIP (known in its early development stages as the Individual Diagnostic Questionnaire (IDQ) and then Individual Effectiveness (IE)) was born.
The early 2000s saw a growth in neurological research, providing a rationale for how attitudes influence feelings which then impacts decision making and behavior. This research strongly influenced the theory and design of the EIP, and in 2003 the first edition of the individual EIP tool was released following the success of the Team version of the tool.
The objective of the EIP was to help individuals manage their personality in order to become personally and interpersonally effective. The tool continued to develop with enhancements to the reports and support materials and updates to items and scoring. In 2017, a revision enabling use for both development and assessment purposes was released.
25 years after its initial release, the EIP is available in 17 languages and is used globally to support organizations in the assessment and development of their people.
Recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence
And me? Over those 25 years I have continued to have good and less good days. The original business grew, I completed my MSc and ultimately became a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, while also becoming a wife and mother to two daughters. People came and went and the company I joined as that naïve and excitable 21 year old was acquired and became part of Talogy.
And what’s supported me through? Emotional intelligence. The late-night preparation sessions and self-doubt became unsustainable. I wasn’t enjoying my work. I had seen my profile with its low self regard, low emotional resilience, and low flexibility, but plowed on to deliver to the high standards I had created for myself…until I couldn’t anymore.
I had been running a three-day ‘Leading with EI’ event with a client and 12 of their ‘high potential’ senior leaders, and I felt like a fraud. My authenticity took a hit. I was standing there talking about being emotionally intelligent and I was far from it! I went home and cried (that low emotional resilience) and cried (and add in some low flexibility!). Not only did I not feel great about myself, I also didn’t want my young daughters to think this was okay and what the world of work was about.
Emotional intelligence put into practice
I was fortunate to have support, and through some great coaching worked on my self regard and started to like myself. Work became more fun and I turned up as my true self, accepting who I was as an individual and truly believing I had the right to be me. I also understood that those tears were my way of telling myself I wasn’t okay and to acknowledge them rather than ignore them. In doing this, they came less often. I still cry today, but I am much quicker to look after myself and be okay. I am also much more aware of what might be going on for other people, less critical and judgmental of others, and hopefully more inclusive as both a colleague and a leader.
My emotional intelligence journey hasn’t been easy and there have been some difficult decisions and discussions along the way. Having the knowledge, support, and language of attitudes and feelings as a route to change my behavior and shift to a much more positive position has enabled me to become the person I am today in a career I love and proud of what I do.
25 years of EIP theory used both personally and professionally and I am thankful for the opportunity. What’s next? 2023 has seen the publication of an academic paper ‘Introducing an attitude-based approach to emotional intelligence,’ differentiating EIP3 foundations and principles from other approaches to EI as well as the launch of our new eLearning for all those wanting to use the EIP with their own clients. This project has been on my wish list for a while and I am excited to be able to share what I think is a great piece of work – something my 21 year old self would definitely have not been confident enough to say!