Forrest Gump is known for the famous line, "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." 

The same is true for bosses. Anytime anyone accepts a position, they never really know what they're going to get.

To really find out whether you have a good boss or not, a quick exercise in assessing your boss's current emotional competencies against bosses with high emotional intelligence (EQ) is in order.

During the stress and anxiety that we are feeling amid the coronavirus outbreak, seeing these EQ competencies in action will put more ease into the minds of workers everywhere. Here's what to look for: 

1. They display optimism

Exhibiting this EQ competency means that your manager is consistently hopeful and proactive about creating possibilities and seeking solutions. Displaying these at a high level means you're working for a boss with a mindset of positivity that's switched to "on." This is especially crucial during the crisis.

2. They motivate their people from the inside-out

Managers who display this skill at a high level will trigger intrinsic motivation in their workers by involving them in work that has purpose, meaning, and lasting impact. They allow their employees to see, feel, and experience that the time they're putting in is making a difference in the lives of their customers. Moreover, they let employees take ownership of their work by allowing them to give and share input into common goals and values.

3. They have vision

Does your manager have a sense of vision and purpose for directing the team or company toward a shared goal? This is important because it gives a leader direction and aligns her decision making to long-term choices that carry a vision forward. Stated simply, a leader whose vision guides her decisions puts emotional intelligence into action for positive change.

4. They practice empathy

Does your boss recognize and appropriately respond to others' emotions? This EQ competence allows to understand others and builds strong emotional connections. In essence, empathy is the act of perspective-taking. In a recent episode of the Love in Action podcast, Michael Ventura, the founder and CEO of Sub Rosa, and author of Applied Empathy describes several subsets of empathy:

  • Affective empathy: You treat others how you would want to be treated. 
  • Somatic empathy: Physically embodying the feelings of others.
  • Cognitive empathy: Applied empathy or perspective-taking. It is doing unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Ventura says, "The only way to build resilient and collaborative teams is by practicing empathy." While you can't measure empathy, Ventura says you can measure its effects: high-functioning teams emerge, they work well together, and produce better, faster work. Their companies are more resilient and responsive in the market. As a result, decision making becomes more collaborative. 

If you already work in an environment where leaders display such competencies, I know I'm preaching to the choir. For new employees assessing long-term culture fit, you should begin to see these EQ skills play out during your onboarding. Give it some time, and engage your new boss by showing interest and curiosity in your new role, your team members, and the mission. The rest will take care of itself.