Emotional Intelligence: Your Career Superpower, Part 1


The more reliant we become on tools, AI, automation, and systems, the more valuable emotionally intelligent people are.

Think of emotional intelligence (EQ) as what goes on emotionally:

  • Inside yourself as you experience life’s parade of events, as well as
  • Between yourself and others as you interact with them.

Where did the term emotional intelligence come from? In 1983 Howard Gardner proposed his now famous Theory of Multiple Intelligences in which he described interpersonal intelligence as an intelligence of sensing peoples’ feelings and emotion.  The science became widely popularized by Dr. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 best seller, Emotional Intelligence.  Over the past decade EQ has become a key area of focus in the area of talent development.


A Few EQ Basics

  • EQ is classically measured as intrapersonal (what goes on inside an individual, shown in red) and interpersonal (what goes on between people, shown in blue).
  • Intrapersonal intelligence includes the ability to perceive one’s own emotions, how he or she is affected by them, and how he or she can control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and think before acting. This area also includes motivation, defined as the passion to work that goes beyond external drivers such as money or power.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence includes someone’s ability to perceive the emotions of other people and how each is affected by one’s words and behaviors, plus the ability to use emotions to build productive relationships and networks.
  • According to studies by TTI and others, EQ tends to rise over time and is still developing in one’s twenties, thirties, and even forties.


Why has EQ Become So Important?

As people and organizations across the world push for higher and higher levels of throughput and efficiency, we’ve become increasingly reliant on methods, technology, processes, systems, equipment, and artificial intelligence.  The downside of this reliance is that people side of things has been pushed to the side in favor of the process/systems side of things.  Yet people are required make all the systems, processes, etc. work effectively!


Consider these facts:

  • Studies by the Carnegie Institute of Technology show that 85% of people’s financial success is due to people skills while just 15% of their success is attributable to technical skills.
  • People would prefer to do business with someone they both like and trust, rather than someone they don’t, even if they have to pay a higher price (2002 Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman).
  • In a study of 515 senior executives, search firm Egon Zehnedr Int’l. discovered that those who were strongest in EQ were more likely to succeed than those strongest in IQ or relevant technical skills.
  • A study of college students by University of Michigan researchers showed a 34 percent to 48 percent decline in empathic skills over an eight-year period. These students are our future leaders!
  • In Career Builder’s Survey of 2,600 hiring managers and HR professionals, they found:
    • 71% said EQ is more important than IQ in hiring decisions.
    • 75% said they would promote a high-EQ employee over a high-IQ one.
    • 59% said they would be reluctant to hire a high-IQ candidate with low EQ.

Development Dimensions Int’l studied 15,000 leaders in 20 industries and 18 countries to determine what EQ-based interaction skills had the highest impact on someone’s job performance.  What they learned was that the Top 3 on-the-job interaction skills were empathy, offering encouragement, and clarifying details. Their conclusion: “Empathy in the modern workplace is not just about being able to see things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of teamwork, good innovative design, and smart leadership. It’s about helping others feel heard and understood.”

Conclusion: emotional intelligence is a critical factor in the future of work and people relationships.


All People Roles Require High EQ

Virtually every role that deals with people requires high EQ.  Some of the most common people-facing roles include:

  • Leadership and management roles tasked with attracting, developing, focusing, and retaining good people. The competition for excellent candidates in increasing, and people aren’t leaving their current job just for dollars and cents.  They are leaving because something in their current employment is missing and can be traced back to a lack of emotional intelligence.  The most successful employers have been, are, and will be the ones who hire and train for emotional intelligence.
  • Sales and customer service roles require people with high emotional intelligence to attract and retain customers. High EQ staff members in these roles do a demonstrably better job of generating revenues, customer engagement, and customer loyalty. Yet these are often the roles in which management minimizes the investment in ongoing education, especially something that sounds as warm and fuzzy as emotional intelligence training. 
  • Patient care roles, from those which perform medical services, to those which deliver patient care in both public and private sectors, to those which advocate for the recipients of healthcare and insurance services, and everything in between. Patients are by nature outside their comfort zones and look to emotionally intelligent staff to empathize with them as they face some of life’s biggest decisions.  In a world of patient-choice, high EQ organizations thrive while low-EQ organizations earn public scorn.    
  • Critical teaming roles such as cross-functional project teams or new product development / launch teams progress more slowly when the individuals on such teams have to fight through communications, planning and execution problems that arise from a lack of emotional intelligence.
  • Departmental roles are de-facilitated in the face of poor practices precipitated by low levels of emotion intelligence. For example, a finance or IT department’s work quality and per-person productivity improves when its members practice emotional intelligence. 


Yes, EQ Can Be Raised!

We’ve been taught from a young age that all the intelligence we have is what we’re born with, our genetics.  Many of us remember the IQ tests we took in grade school that were used to place us into classes with similarly situated children, such as gifted, accelerated, mainstream and special needs programs.  A differentiator between people with similar levels of IQ seemed to be just how hard one worked to get the best out of what they were given.

Following the work by early EQ pioneers like Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman, researchers have shown that “EQ does change as a person ages, improving as the wisdom born of experience accumulates. This means that with guided experiential learning and practice, people can intentionally improve emotional intelligence. (Controlling Emotions in the Workplace — The Impact on Your Bottom Line, ©2013 TTI Success Insights).” 

Consider these insights from the above white paper:

  • A person’s EQ is a better predictor of success than someone’s IQ.
  • While technical skills will gradually diminish with lack of use over time, EQ skills once developed are retained for life.
  • Learning about EQ can be the light bulb moment when they recognize that what’s been holding them back is the way they handle their emotions.
  • Learning to be self-aware before making a decision about how to proceed is crucial, eliminating ready-fire-aim decisions that cause emotional unease to all who are affected.
  • When it comes to making the most of all the talent available inside an organization, professional development training in EQ has the potential to move a business ahead of the pack.


Bottom Line

Almost every role in your organization, plus every one of your customers’ and business partners’ is being either positively or negatively impacted by the current levels of emotional intelligence on staff.  Those who understand and apply the best practices of emotional intelligence will become the market leaders at the expense of those who don’t.

In Part 2 of Emotional Intelligence: Your Career Superpower we’ll explore some leading-edge ideas, programs, and tools you can use to raise emotional intelligence on both an individual and organizational level.

This article is excerpted in part from BMG’s best-selling training programs, Leading More Effectively With Emotional Intelligence and Selling With Emotional Intelligence.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness!  Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

I help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search.  I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982. 



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