Putting Emotional Intelligence Into Action

03/25/2015 06:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2015

Weber Shandwick recently polled 1,700 executives from around the world to better understand what is expected of today's successful CEOs. Some of the most prevalent characteristics boiled down to having a clear vision for the company and maintaining a strong external profile. It was also extremely clear that the reputation of the CEO him/herself strongly contributed to the company's success and cited "humble" leaders as the most effective.

We constantly hear about emotional intelligence in business these days. In fact, I recently covered a story that emotional intelligence has been proven to increase your bottom line. But despite all the coverage, some still mistake the term "emotional intelligence" for being all touchy-feely and crying in the corner. Another huge generalization people make is that the only emotionally intelligent leaders are women because they tend to have a natural ability to sympathize with others.

But female and male leaders can BOTH utilize their emotional superpowers, and it's not about holding hands and singing folk songs together as a staff. Here's a recent example:

Shortly after Bill Carmody launched Trepoint, he was contacted by a very large potential client - one that could seriously put his new digital marketing start-up on the map. This would be a godsend for the company and Bill himself, who left his secure job as the CMO of Seismicom to bootstrap his new firm.

In preparation for the pitch meeting, Bill's team worked tirelessly on the proposal to ensure it delivered the wow factor. Some team members even stayed up until the wee hours of the morning the night before to make sure the presentation sparkled. Then D-day came and they got in front of the big boys...

Only it didn't go as planned. The executive from the large company berated Bill's staff and negatively picked apart the presentation. Not only was the criticism not constructive, it was borderline abusive. Instead of catering to this behavior and apologizing, Bill politely interjected and stood up for his employees. "We're not the right firm for you," he told the executive. "I don't allow this type of treatment to my staff. We're happy to refer you to another company who might accommodate you." And that was the end of that.

This was a bit of a shock for the staff members who had never seen something like this. They questioned why Bill would turn away such a big client. "Starting today, we have a 'No Assholes' policy. We don't tolerate assholes internally or externally," he decreed. "Even if you satisfy their needs, assholes attract more assholes, and I'm not subjecting you guys to that."

He knew his employees were investing in him, so he made it very apparent that he was investing in them too.

Seven years later, Bill has retained most of the same staff and attracted dozens more. Trepoint was named one of Inc 5000's fastest growing private companies for two years in a row -- with three locations in Kansas City, New York, and San Francisco. In 2013, Trepoint was ranked the 81st fastest growing private company in New York (by Inc) having grown 343 percent, and in 2014, Trepoint grew another 146 percent.

Bill credits his success to having a talented, dedicated staff that move mountains for their clients. His staff credits their success to having a leader who recognized the importance of creating a positive, collaborative and empowered culture, where people challenge themselves to reach higher and do the unexpected. Emotional intelligence at its finest. Let's take note!