You Say You Want a Promotion? Can you communicate?

I just returned from a workshop where the trainer had people list out on sticky-notes the characteristics of someone that really made a dramatic impact on their lives. She had us do this prior to the workshop kick off. She then provided an overview of Social and Emotional Intelligence.  She then had us place the sticky-notes under IQ or EQ or Tech cards on a wall. You can guess that most of them showed up under EQ. What we remember most about the people that make an impact on us is typically their emotional impact. How they made us feel.

The research is pretty strong that EQ beats IQ at predicting success. And there are a lot of characteristics to S+EQ. 26 in this particular model. And as I reviewed this, fully one half of the characteristics can’t be delivered without the ability to effectively communicate.

(Spoiler alert – you can’t really be a great communicator without these traits as well.) Let’s look at a few:


Empathy – This lies under Other Awareness in the framework. To exhibit this behavior we need to listen attentively not just to what’s said but the meaning underlying what said. We have to sense the perhaps hidden message. No mean feat. Many people are afraid to be candid in the work place or even within their families. So someone that is empathetic is tuned in to the message behind the message and can adjust their response for management or the interaction.

Personal Influence – This shows up in the Relationship Management quadrant of the model. To be considered effective with this trait, we need to be able to win people over and to convince others to support our agenda. The ability to listen to people to understand their communication style and then to fine tune the interaction to meet their needs with story-telling, drama, and perhaps humor all require the finesse of a great communicator.

Inspirational Leadership – This too is in the Relationship Management quadrant. This is the ability to inspire and mobilize individuals and teams with a vision for the future. How do we do that? By creating a shared story in our imagination. This can only happen through the ability to communicate. The ability to understand motivations, benefits and struggles and to then craft the message to impact all of these levers for success.

Promotions, particularly those leading into management are based on the ability to organize, direct and manage groups of people. Each of these traits above are key to that. And none of them can be expressed without good communication skills.

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.

— Lee Iacocca

If you would like to learn more about how communication can help your teams align, engage and execute please send me an email at


  1. Great article John!! I do challenge your spoiler alert…can we ever say absolutely never? I give you “most likely”…”highly likely”…etc. But to say never…I am sure there are exceptions we can find – 🙂

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. I don’t see the word “never” in the spoiler. I didn’t put a qualifier on it either. I would concur, I am not sure there are absolutes in communications. THere are so many variables.

      Be Great

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