Using emotional intelligence to support the recruitment and promotion of engineering leaders in an Leadership Academy setting.



Our client describes themselves as global leaders in complex product design, manufacturing, supply chain and aftermarket services.

Since 1979 they have been partnering with companies around the world to transform concepts into branded products and deliver them to the market. A global force of over 19,000 team members, the organisation operates predominantly in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Challenge and our solution

ThinkEQ was appointed in Spring of 2019 to support the Leadership Academy and provide a series of EQ assessments and debriefs to 26 colleagues in leadership positions. Although the organisation was familiar with the tool and has used it previously with success, there were no qualified practitioners in-house to deliver EQ debriefs at-scale and ThinkEQ were able to step in and provide a full managed, end to end EQ debrief project. An online approach was adopted to ensure that the teams in Scotland and Romania could come together.

What we found during the debriefs

While there were many similarities between colleagues in the teams, there were some key differences are areas for development. Our findings were split by both region and job role.

The main UK sites are all located within Scotland, over 2 sites. In Europe, the have 1 site in Romania.


Both teams exhibited well-developed EI subscales of problem solving and self-actualisation, meaning that the leaders in both teams can make decisions that are rooted in reality, objective and made without impulse. They have a particular strength in the pursuit of meaning in their roles. In the UK, stress tolerance was a better developed subscale whilst in Europe, flexibility was higher. Both areas of emotional intelligence sit within the Stress Management composite meaning that technical staff are very aware of how their emotions impact on their stress levels and can manage themselves, and change, effectively.


In UK, emotional expression was found to be a low subscale, yet this was a top EI subscale in Europe. This means that in the UK, leaders were perhaps not as able to express themselves or able to communicate their feelings constructively. Conversely, this was a strength of the colleagues in Europe which may indicate that there is more openness and/or a more psychologically safe environment. In Europe, empathy and independence were rated as being lower indicating that perhaps people prefer to work independently. Those working in technical roles such as engineering are typically high in problem solving. They have taught themselves to be very clear cut and objective to ensure speedy decisions are made. With the role not being as ‘person’ focused, the strength of empathy would not have had as much chance to develop.

Those working in professional roles (ops, admin, finance) are higher in self actualisation and have a strong sense of self regard which will provide confidence in their given roles. Their interpersonal skills however are, collectively, at the lower end, which could well signal they are not as involved in the wider company.

Again, like the UK region above, emotional expression is a key area for development along with flexibility – being open to change.

A common strength in leaders in both professional and technical roles was stress tolerance. This is a key leadership trait however a point to note is more junior member of the team or other leaders who have lower stress tolerance might need more support and a conversation about the role stress has in the workplace. It can be daunting if they believe you never experience stress.

Overall themes emerging from the data are of a strong and confident team, who enjoy what they do (self-actualisation). There are development areas around emotional expression and empathy, which are subscales that are closely linked and work well when balanced.

Self-actualisation is one of the only 15 subscales that appears in each of the 4 pillars of leadership potential. There were no obvious leadership derailers for this group.

The overall EQ from the Leadership Academy is very high, and in line with the leadership bar.

What the data tells us is the organisation’s recruitment and promotion strategy is working well. The right people appear to be in the right roles. The recruitment and selection of leaders for the Leadership Academy is also working well. Although there are some areas for targeted development, potential leaders are being identified well.

Our Recommendations

In our aggregated report back to the client, based on their collective results, we were able to make specific recommendations for further development of their existing and newly appointed leaders.

We suggested:

  • Harnessing the emotional intelligence skills of the team members to act as role models, providing mentoring to more junior team members.
  • Implementing targeted and bespoke development on listening skills and empathy in the workplace. We also advised looking at stress tolerance to start the conversation around what stress in the workplace looks like and how it manifests to help the team build coping strategies and techniques.
  • ‘Manager as Coach’ training to support leaders in finding coachable moments in the workplace to develop future leaders using their EI strengths.
  • Colleague engagement using a workplace mood survey


Our Impact

Upon following up with the organisation several months later, we were delighted to learn that they had taken our recommendations on board and added them to their ‘People Plan’ for the following year. Specifically, they had conducted a colleague engagement survey to gauge the mood of the organisation. From there, they would be able to, in conjunction with our recommendations, plan a series of bespoke and tailored development opportunities to help build a more emotionally intelligent culture.