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The Effectiveness-Lab

EQ – adults throwing the toys out of the pram

Have you ever experienced those ‘where do I hide?’ moments when your parents, seniors, or peers throw toys out of the pram? Read throwing temper tantrums

Well, this people OV sub-series, brings to the fore yet another people dynamic. One that can’t escape our attention any longer – emotional quotient (EQ). We can’t discuss human beings and not get into the EQ territory. EQ follow us everywhere and influences our relationships and productivity at every institution of society – family, company, governments, etc.

Credit: Daily Mail UK

EQ in academic speak is: ‘the capability of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).’

At the Effectiveness lab, we refer to the low EQ moments as ‘adults throwing toys out of the pram.

Today the pram is a pretty standard baby mobility tool, even in African villages, thanks to the China / Taiwan cheap manufacturing and merchandising culture. Very young children in prams have the funny habit of throwing a temper tantrum when they don’t get what they want from their parents. The typical response by these innocent babies, to not getting what they want, is to throw all their toys that are in the pram out on to the floor.

By extension, the English phrase “to throw one’s toys out of the pram” is used when we see similar behaviour in adults. Grown-ups, mostly unaware, behave in exactly the same manner like babies.

Various societies have different descriptions for such low EQ moments. In our Uganda, it has been referred to by the Basoga kindred as ‘kuvaaku wire’ or ’kutolaaku ebikondo’; funnily, both allude to an automobile whose battery terminals have been disconnected.

Are you are a leader? If yes, we guarantee that you either have or will experience those awkward moments where adults throw toys out of the pram. Ironically, at times, it’s the leaders themselves that throw toys out of the pram. These moments can be nerve-wracking and awkward even for the very accomplished leader.

When the above happens to the leader, it may take the leader hours, days, weeks, or even months to regain their team bearings. It’s human nature that when you sleep on those moments of temper tantrums, you wake up ashamed but wiser. Throwing toys out of the pram by leaders undermines their authority and bionic-balance at the SMART entity. It’s a vice that leaders need to control and if possible, avoid.

On the other hand and perhaps the more common scenario, leaders have to deal with adults other-than themselves, that throw toys out of their prams. When adults throw their toys of out the pram – we witness specific characteristics like individuals digging their heels in on matters plus the unwillingness to compromise, the failure to keep emotions in check and breakdown of two way dialogue, the inability to listen – at the Effectiveness lab we have observed that temper tantrums eat the ability to listen for breakfast, and the failure to take any criticism – it’s mental lockdown time for such people.

The above isn’t healthy stuff and leaders should do all they can to cultivate a culture of appropriate EQ practices at the firms they lead

The good news is that EQ can be learnt. Daniel Goleman, the EQ guru, outlines five components necessary to attain a satisfactory standard of EQ:

  1. Self-awareness: This has to do with the ability of an individual to recognise and understand their own mood and emotions, and the impact on those around them. People that are self-aware are more confident and have more realistic self-assessment.
  2. Self-regulation: This has to do with the ability to think before acting and controlling one’s impulses/moods. When one self-regulates, Integrity, trustworthiness, openness to change, and comfort with ambiguity accrue.
  3. Internal motivation: This has to do with the innate drivers that motivate an individual – they are not extrinsic factors like high pay, success, etc. These individuals are optimistic by nature, embrace failure, and are highly committed plus driven to succeed.
  4. Empathy: This is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the ability to place oneself in another’s position. Such individuals are more cross-culture sensitive, and for companies, they are the type that build and retain talent.
  5. Social skills: This is to do with building and retaining vibrant and positive networks. Individuals with this kind of skills are strong negotiators and quintessential change managers

The case of investing in individual EQ development:

According to CareerBuilder, 71% of employers ranked the need for EQ as more critical than Intelligence quotient (IQ). Employers gave the reasons below:

  • Employees with high EQ are more likely to stay calm under pressure
  • Employees with high EQ know how to resolve conflict effectively
  • Employees with high EQ are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly
  • Employees with high EQ lead by example
  • Employees with high EQ tend to make more thoughtful business decisions

The Effectiveness lab philosophy is that a SMART organisation is bionic because, like living organisms, the finer and interconnected elements of such an organisation present in the form of an intertwined system. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The bionic organisation, like the human body, functions well when all the vital elements (like vitals in humans) are operating optimally.

People are crucial to achieving the ideal state of bionic-balance (BB) at the organisation. We believe that the most valuable asset for any organisation (including the family) is its people (staff/members). Organizations that get the best out of their teams shall lead their peers in the race for productivity and effectiveness.

The last six blogs of the people OV sub-series have delved into matters people. Time, Love, and Care (T.L.C) for staff, maximising people investment, herding employees to maximise value and managing difficult employees have all provided perspective on why the people OV is the glue that brings together leadership, strategy, and design OV’s to form a viable bionic entity.

EQ management is yet another critical piece of the jigsaw that enables a bionic organisation to achieve SMART outcomes





2 responses to “EQ – adults throwing the toys out of the pram”

  1. Eno leero Niimpi buu mpi oba ewooma kusooma.


    1. Haaaaaaa neeyo – aye ndowooza kuwooma – weena osuula toys okuuva mu pram – otoolaaku wire? 😜😜😜


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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