Emotional Intelligence: What it Is, Why You Need It, and Where You Can Get It
It would appear that a great many people, including some corporate and community leaders, think of emotional intelligence as a bunch of wishy-washy, touchy-feely soft skills that nobody has the time for.
They’re making a terrible mistake.
The truth is, emotional intelligence and the sharpened social skills that come with it probably have more to do with our strengths and successes than our IQ does. Laura Wilcox, the director of management programs at Harvard Extension School, points out that emotional intelligence accounts for nearly 90 percent of what moves people up the ladder. And according to an article published in the International Journal of Engineering, Management, Humanities and Social Sciences Paradigms, it’s EQ that all but guarantees success to an individual. Organizations are increasingly focusing on a candidate’s EQ, not IQ, for hiring purposes. Research shows that if two managers have similar IQs and basically the same technical experience, the one with the higher EQ is almost certain to get the promotion.
But why is that? Why are we hearing so much about emotional intelligence these days?
Well, to really understand why, you’ve got to delve into everything that emotional intelligence encompasses. We all know that EQ has to do with understanding and managing our emotions. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Six Seconds, the world’s leader in EQ development, identifies eight key areas that embody emotional intelligence. Increasing your own EQ in these areas will, through the very nature of high emotional intelligence, lead to greater effectiveness and satisfaction at work and beyond.
Here, then, is a closer look at what emotional intelligence really is.
EQ is emotional literacy.
Boiled down, emotions are combinations of brain chemicals that send us messages which we then act on. These messages come to our attention in the form of feelings like fear, anger, and happiness, and they guide our subsequent behaviors. Becoming aware of these emotions and how they cause us to act is the first step toward developing higher emotional intelligence.
At work, emotional literacy enables you to understand your own emotions and read other people’s emotions for better communication with team members and clients. and a keener ability to motivate and inspire others.
EQ is recognizing and breaking free of old patterns.
Most of the time, we’re running on autopilot, reacting to our surroundings and emotions out of habit. Because that’s just how the brain works, we develop patterns of responding to events and emotions, and we engage in these patterns without thinking. This stifles creativity and leads to impulsive and less-than-optimal decision-making.
Recognizing these patterns is the first step in breaking out of them and responding more thoughtfully and carefully to each individual situation that presents itself. Naturally, this leads to better decisions and a better handle on our reactions.
EQ is using consequential thinking to make decisions.
Consequential thinking is the ability to analyze our choices and consider the myriad consequences of a decision. When we act impulsively, out of habit, our decisions can produce unexpected and unhappy results.
Developing consequential thinking helps you make better decisions and respond better to change. It helps you understand how you affect others so that you can communicate more effectively and consciously and deliberately drive results.
EQ is navigating your emotions.
We’re often expected to suppress our emotions and divorce them entirely from the decision-making process. But if you know how to interpret your emotions, glean insight from them, and tap into their energy, you can convert even negative emotions into a positive, productive force in your career and in your life.
People—especially those in a leadership position—who are able to navigate their emotions gain the trust of others more easily and are able to avoid missteps and misunderstandings. They’re available, flexible, and in control.
EQ is igniting intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is that inner drive that keeps you moving forward. A lack of it may mean that you’re motivated by external forces like acceptance or money, and that kind of motivation is hard to sustain. A lack of intrinsic motivation also invites a mindset of victimhood, which can be the death of your aspirations.
Developing intrinsic motivation not only increases your productivity, but it also increases your work and life satisfaction. It helps you set and achieve forward-thinking personal and organizational goals that truly matter.
A large body of research shows that people who are optimistic live longer, happier, and healthier lives, make more money, and have more successful careers than those who are less optimistic. Optimism that anything is possible gives you license to take risks, think creatively, and better weather hard times.
Increasing your optimism at work translates to greater flexibility and adaptability during times of change. It promotes innovation and forward thinking and helps you inspire the best in your team.
Empathy is central to responding to others’ emotions in a way that fosters trust, motivation, and productivity. Leaders who lack empathy have employees and clients who probably feel disengaged and apathetic. And for good reason: If you don’t care about them, why should they care about you?
Empathy at work lets people know you care. That makes them far more likely to care, too. Empathetic leaders gain a high level of trust, and they’re great at negotiating, collaborating, and resolving conflicts.
Developing emotional intelligence ultimately leads you to identify and operate in line with your noble goals, which are the overarching tenets that keep you motivated, passionate, and working toward something larger than yourself. Identifying noble goals provides you with a sense of purpose that helps you stay focused on the bigger picture you see for yourself and your organization.
It’s not too late to transform your career or your organization with emotional intelligence.
Part of our mission at H2H Coaching Co. is to help you develop key areas of emotional intelligence to transform your leadership style and improve the functioning of your team. Our EQ assessments, based on your own perceptions, help you pinpoint the areas to target for growth. Our individual and group coaching programs guide you through the process of gaining the clarity and developing the EQ skills that will make you a crack decision-maker, communicator, and motivator. Get in touch with us today, and let us customize a transformative program for you or your organization.