emotional intelligence

3 Things Testing for Emotional Intelligence Can Reveal About Your Law Firm’s Employees

The following is adapted from “Fireproof” by Mike Morse

Have you ever wondered why some lawyers excel at attracting and keeping clients? How some have a knack for communicating or consistently make ethical decisions?

The answer is that they have high emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to control, express and interpret emotions. And if you know which of your employees rank well, you can make sure that your best communicators are assigned to people-facing roles.

If you’re wondering how to measure emotional intelligence, there’s good news—you can test for it and make it a regular part of your hiring process. By assessing your employees’ emotional intelligence, you can learn who your best communicators are, who’s most skilled at assessing risks and making ethical choices, and who will help your firm grow and succeed.


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Let’s dig into each of these three insights to see how learning about the emotional intelligence of your employees can help you manage your team.

Reveal your best communicators

Your firm’s best communicators are likely to be the people who score the highest in emotional intelligence. They’re sensitive to others’ emotions, and this makes them great friends and colleagues.

Finding these people among your employees or potential hires is especially valuable because according to Ronda Muir, author of “Beyond Smart: Layering with Emotional Intelligence,” lawyers often score below average in emotional intelligence.

In other words, lawyers who excel at reading emotions and communicating are rare. By identifying and hiring candidates with high emotional intelligence, you can gain an advantage over competing firms that lack skilled communicators.

You’ll want to put these employees in roles that directly interact with clients, handle conflict resolution or attract new business.



Evaluate risk assessment and ethical decision-making skills

Assessing for emotional intelligence can also tell you which of your employees are most skilled at risk assessment and making ethical decisions. Who has a natural instinct for avoiding conflicts and judging wrong from right?

According to Muir, “Emotional intelligence skills sharpen our abilities to assess risks, understand which ethical standards are appropriate in a situation, recognize when and how others are making ethical decisions and to deal better with the emotional fallout from our ethical choices, especially when ignoring or acting against personal values, which lawyers may need to do in advocating for clients.”

It’s no coincidence that emotionally intelligent lawyers incur fewer liability costs. That’s because they communicate better, thus sidestepping miscommunications, the number one reason why attorneys are disciplined or sued for malpractice.

Find drivers of your firm’s growth and success

Finally, your law firm stands to benefit from identifying emotionally intelligent employees because those individuals are the ones most likely to win cases and help grow your business.

Studies have shown that attorneys with high emotional intelligence are more successful than those with lower scores. They are better at attracting and keeping clients, for instance, and firms that actively emphasized emotional intelligence training for their lawyers experienced record-setting revenue.

These employees are the ones you’ll want to promote to leadership positions, assign to lead the most lucrative and challenging cases, and act as the public-facing representatives of your firm.


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Work to improve emotional intelligence

Let’s say you test all your firm’s employees for emotional intelligence and find them lacking—don’t panic. Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned and practiced like any other.

Muir describes many lawyers as being “militantly rational” instead of emotionally aware, but she says they can improve simply by regularly recording how they feel and why they feel that way. She even recommends they watch movies on mute so they are forced to read characters’ emotional cues.

Even if you don’t recruit emotionally intelligent employees right away, you can build them from inside your business.

Prioritize emotional intelligence

As you can see, there is no secret sauce that makes people master communicators. Their advantage is having high emotional intelligence, which is just as crucial in our business as intellect.

By taking steps to identify, hire and train emotionally intelligent employees, you’ll be able to better apply the strengths of your most talented communicators, more accurately assess risks for the firm and empower your strong communicators to drive your firm’s success.

“Fireproof” is now available for purchase and can be purchased via StartupNation.com.

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