Emotional intelligence is everywhere at the moment. Big business is talking about it; the media are talking about it; and you should be talking about it too.
Like all buzz words and phrases, it’s easy to gain a vague understanding of what emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) is all about. But it shouldn’t simply be somewhere on your radar; it should be front and centre in your thoughts right now.
But what is it?
As the name suggests, emotional intelligence is all about understanding emotions, both your own and those of others. A person with higher levels of EQ will be self-aware, able to self-regulate and be motivated by personal reasons, rather than by reward. They’ll be able to empathise with others and understand their emotions, and they’ll have great social skills which enable them to manage relationships and build networks.
These abilities have obvious applications for all relationships, whether it’s with friends, family… even people you bump into on the street. But the relevance to the world of work is clear and EQ should be a priority in your recruitment and development of people, right up there with team work and problem solving.
Here are four reasons why:
Emotionally intelligent people are good at taking feedback
Telling team members what they’re good at is easy but dealing with those areas for improvement can be a minefield. People with good levels of EQ will accept praise but will also listen to constructive criticism.
Aarti Ramaswami, Professor of management and academic director of ESSEC Global MBA, says, “…people with high EQ are more open to accepting feedback and learning from their mistakes. By contrast, people with low levels of emotional intelligence are less willing to accept criticism and self-improve: this is likely to hold them back in their careers.”
Studies have shown that high-flyers and senior managers are more likely to be emotionally intelligent and this is one reason why. They listen to advice and feedback without taking it personally. They use this to develop themselves and are much more likely to flourish as a result.
They’re more motivated
You’re looking for people who will get the job done and who are driven by aspirations beyond a pay cheque at the end of the month. Those with EQ are better at understanding their own motivations and those of others.
Leadership coach Alan Mallory says, “One of the key components of emotional intelligence that sometimes gets overlooked is self-motivation which, in turn, is key to our ability to motivate others. It involves our personal reasons for doing something; it’s a combination of our drive, initiative, commitment, optimism, and persistence to accomplish something beyond money or recognition.”
Put simply, people with EI are doers, not procrastinators, and understand how to get the best out of themselves, their contemporaries and their team.
They understand how their behaviour affects others
The behaviour of one person can bring down a whole team, whether they’re a manager in a bad mood or a silently unhappy colleague over by the printer. Emotional intelligence enables people to understand this and to alter their behaviour accordingly.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman, who brought the phrase emotional intelligence into the mainstream, says, “Whenever people interact, our brains and bodies react to the feelings of those around us… Before leading anyone else, a leader first must manage themselves.”
Those with strong EQ realise how their behaviour affects others at all levels and can self-regulate, essentially forcing themselves to act differently and therefore have a positive influence on their colleagues. As a result, they are good people to be around and are better at leading.
People with EQ are confident – but not too confident
Confidence is an important quality in the workplace and it’s easy to gauge in an interview situation. But there’s a fine line between confidence as a strength and over-confidence as a weakness.
Emily A Sterrett PhD says, “Low self-confidence affects job performance, but another kind of self-confidence problem is equally incompatible with EQ: arrogance. Overconfidence or pseudo-confidence is destructive, and does not belong in today’s organization.”
A person with EQ knows they have what’s needed to get the job done and, if they don’t, to ask for support without feeling undermined. They know how to use their confidence as an asset that not only helps them do their job but also gives others assurance that they’ll do it well.
So that’s the whistle-stop tour of emotional intelligence, though there’s obviously a lot more to it. We use the Thomas International TEIQue assessment which provides excellent insight into candidates’ EQ and has helped our clients make more informed recruitment decisions. To find out more, visit their website or get in touch with one of our consultants who will talk you through it.