Is Emotional Intelligence the Greatest Indicator of Success?

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In 1904, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed the first modern IQ test. This interest in measuring intelligence has led to many people believing that having a higher IQ means an individual is more intelligent, and the natural conclusion was that he or she would be successful in life.

Although experts have proven that people with a high IQ are intelligent, IQ Test Experts have clarified that IQ does not measure intelligence. These experts say that intelligence is relative, and therefore cannot be measured; they instead claim that IQ is “a mathematical ratio.” IQ tests, according to a CNN report, measure “your reasoning and problem-solving abilities.”

So, does being smart mean you will be successful? Not necessarily. A study conducted by Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research found that generally, people of below average intelligence are “just about as wealthy as those in similar circumstances but with higher scores on an IQ test.” In fact, some extremely intelligent people reported that they were having financial problems.

These days, experts say that emotional intelligence is the key to our success.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

The term was first used by Wayne Leon Payne when he was still a graduate student in 1985. He wrote a doctoral dissertation entitled, “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence.”

In 1990, American university professors John Mayer and Peter Salovey published two academic journal articles about their attempt to develop a way to scientifically measure “the difference between people’s ability in the area of emotions.”

However, the term was popularized by New York Times writer and psychologist Daniel Goleman in his books “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” and “Working with Emotional Intelligence.”

Key aspects of EI

According to Goleman, there are five categories of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness

This is the ability to recognize one’s emotions, strengths, and weaknesses, and understand how they affect others. When you learn to evaluate your emotions, you can manage them. The major elements of self-awareness are:

  • Emotional awareness: the ability to identify your own emotions and their impact on others.
  • Self-confidence: a firm belief in your self-worth and capabilities.

2. Self-regulation

Most of the time, you have no control over when you experience certain emotions such as anger or anxiety. However, you can control or redirect disruptive emotions and adapt to changes. People with high EI do other activities such as take long walks, pray, or meditate, which help to direct energy in a positive way. Self-regulation involves:

  • Restraint: managing unsettling emotions.
  • Trustworthiness: being honest.
  • Conscientiousness: taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Adaptability: being flexible with change.
  • Innovation: being open to new concepts.

3. Motivation

An individual with high EI is focused on achieving their goals and possesses a positive attitude. Even if you pick up some negative thoughts, you can learn to think more positively. Motivation requires:

  • Drive for excellence: always striving to improve or maintain excellent standards.
  • Commitment: making sure that all actions or steps taken are aligned with the goals of the team or organization.
  • Initiative: always being prepared to act on opportunities.
  • Optimism: being persistent in achieving goals despite problems and setbacks.

4. Empathy

Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to discern people’s feelings. They have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and are able to understand how they may feel or react to certain situations. The ability to empathize allows us to feel compassion for others. It also enables us to respond genuinely to other people’s concerns. Empathy allows a person to excel in:

  • Rendering service: anticipating, identifying, and meeting or surpassing the client’s needs.
  • Developing your subordinates: sensing what others need to grow and helping them strengthen their abilities.
  • Leveraging diversity: promoting opportunities through people of different genders, races, ages, religions, and so on.
  • Political astuteness: working well with everyone within the organization, including disagreeing parties.
  • Focusing on and understanding needs: discerning feelings behind the needs of others.

5. Social skills

Having excellent interpersonal skills will make your likelihood of success much greater. You need to genuinely connect with others, build their trust, and nurture those relationships. People with high EI respect other people, regardless of differences in beliefs and opinions. A person with good social skills is:

  • An influencer: they possess effective persuasion strategies.
  • An excellent communicator: they are able to impart clear messages.
  • An effective leader: they have the ability to guide and manage individuals and groups.
  • A change catalyst: they have the ability to initiate or manage change.
  • Effective at conflict management: they excel at understanding, negotiating, and resolving disagreements.
  • A relationship builder: they have the ability to build and nurture relationships and alliances.
  • An exceptional collaborator and cooperator: they work effectively with other people toward shared goals.
  • An excellent team player: they have the ability to create group interaction in pursuing and achieving the organization’s goals.

Why do employers think emotional intelligence is important?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hire is approximately 30 percent of the employee’s first-year potential earnings.

It is, therefore, imperative that employers hire those candidates who demonstrate not only their suitability for the role, but also have exemplary “soft skills,” including emotional intelligence.

How do employers decide which job applicants are the best fit?

Historically, employers would hire candidates based on their higher education or their demonstrated intelligence on paper. However, research has shown that the relationship between educational achievement and career success is only modest.

These days, more companies are looking to hire people with high EI. In fact, 71 percent of hiring managers state that EI is more important to hiring and promotion decisions than IQ. More specifically, 59 percent of hiring managers say they would not hire applicants with a high IQ and low EI.

In a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in the U.S., researchers found that executives who failed in their jobs exhibited low emotional intelligence, with the three main reasons for failure including poor interpersonal relations, inability to work in a team, and difficulty handling change. Additionally, in studies conducted by ZERORISK HR, it was found that theft and shrinkage were connected with low emotional intelligence.

How do you identify workers with high EI?

Today’s employers explain that they value EI over IQ because individuals with high EI:

  • Stay calm under pressure
  • Resolve conflict effectively
  • Have empathy for their colleagues
  • Lead by example
  • Usually put more consideration into making business decisions

Other employers state that the following are qualities of people with high EI:

1. They have work-life balance

Although they are dedicated to their work, they also know when to disconnect in order to reduce their stress levels.

2. They welcome change

People with high EI are aware that change is a natural part of life. They are not afraid of change. They adapt to changes that occur and always have a plan just in case changes happen.

3. They are focused on their tasks

Emotionally intelligent individuals focus on their tasks and are not easily distracted by other people, situations, or random thoughts.

4. They are not perfectionists

People who have high EI know that perfection does not exist. If they make mistakes, they learn from them and make adjustments.

5. They have identified their strengths and weaknesses

Emotionally intelligent people know their strong points and their flaws. They also know how to leverage these strengths and weaknesses by working with the right people in different situations.

6. They are self-motivated

Emotionally intelligent individuals do not need motivation from others. They work hard to achieve their goals even at a young age.

7. They don’t dwell on the past

People with high EI do not let past mistakes drag them down. They do not hold grudges against people who have hurt them, and they always look forward. They are eager to know what new opportunities will come their way and how they can make the most of them.

8. They maintain a positive outlook on life

Instead of focusing on problems, they concentrate on how to solve them. They also tend to surround themselves with positive people instead of people who always complain.

9. They know how to set boundaries

Emotionally intelligent people are respectful of others, but they are not pushovers. They know when to say no so that they are not overwhelmed with too much to do.

How to increase your EI

In an article for the Association for Talent Development, John Keyser writes that, in his experience, organizations with women active in senior management are the most productive. Reading on the topic of emotional intelligence in the workplace, he found that, on average, women “have an overall emotional intelligence that is four points higher than that of their male counterparts.” Women scored higher on self-management, relationship management, and social awareness. Their scores on self-awareness, however, were equal to the scores of the men.

Just like IQ, some people have a higher EI compared to others. In addition, many of us do not know that disruptive emotions can adversely affect the way we think and react to situations. Fortunately, anyone can increase emotional intelligence.

If you want to determine what your Emotional Quotient (EQ) is, you can take free assessments that are available online such as that offered by the Institute for Health and Human Potential. These assessments can help you measure your skills and help you find out which ones you can improve.

Reading books like “The Emotional Intelligence 2.0″ will also increase your understanding of EI, and you’ll learn more about how you can exercise emotional intelligence skills. Some suggestions made by the authors that will help with one’s self-development are practicing greeting people by name, listening attentively in conversations, taking short tours of your office every day, putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and observing interactions while watching a movie.

Prioritize EI in your business and reap the rewards

We now know that emotional intelligence is vital to the success of any business. An organization with emotionally intelligent business owners and employees is one where everyone works together to maximum effectiveness. This can only take place if you develop and nurture positive relationships within the organization, as well as relationships with customers and even competitors in the market.

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Harriet Genever
Harriet Genever
Harriet Genever is a freelance writer and copyeditor, specializing in blog posts, research articles and customer case studies. As the founder of her Australian-based business, Write Beyond, she works with B2B companies and small business, developing compelling content to attract customers and keep them engaged. With a background in Human Resource Management, Harriet enjoys the personal interaction with clients and their customers when working on writing projects. She is also a true believer that the key to success in any business is its people.
Posted in Psychology & Business

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