Emotional Intelligence: will it help you to succeed?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups. The concept of emotional intelligence began to emerge in the 1990s, with the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995 based on the work of psychologists Howard Gardner (Harvard), Peter Salovey (Yale) and John Mayer (New Hampshire) in the 1970s. 

Unlike intellectual intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EI) is a skill which can be cultivated and one that tends to be best demonstrated among experienced and top-ranking professionals. Emotional intelligence is extremely important in any workplace, especially for those in managerial positions. Studies by psychologist and New York Times science journalist Daniel Goleman suggest that EQ is actually more important than IQ in terms of career success, assuming the individual in question is adequately qualified to have got the job in the first place.

 (Daniel Goleman – TedTalk)

How can I improve my EI? 

Being aware of and being able to manage your emotions is key to the development of emotional intelligence, as this will lead to a wider understanding of other people’s emotional responses and will allow you to empathise with them. Emotional intelligence spans skills such as influence, persuasion, self-management and initiative. In terms of employers recruiting for graduate level roles, increasingly they are looking for more than just academic ability, even more desirable are soft skills such as ability to learn on the job, listening and verbal communication, creative responses to set backs and a motivation to progress in one’s career. Furthermore, studies indicate that students who have had a well rounded academic career through balancing study with sports or social activities and societies stand to score well in terms of emotional intelligence.

How will EI help me to succeed? 

Within career sectors such as engineering, law and medicine as well as postgraduate programmes such as MBAs, emotional intelligence appears to have more of an impact than IQ in terms of those people who will emerge as leaders. In these turbulent times of technological change, globalisation and economic uncertainty, the job market is truly in flux and we must constantly be aware of the need to adapt our skills accordingly. According to www.talentsmart.com – a leading provider of emotional intelligence – training, over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies use emotional intelligence training tools and 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

The concept of emotional intelligence is open to misinterpretation however, and it is essential to realise that it is not just about being pleasant all the time, or letting your emotions run wild. It is important to know how to deal with confronting colleagues – sometimes bluntly – on an issue. The main outcomes for an emotionally intelligent workplace or team should be stability, decreased conflict, more cohesive relationships and increased productivity. An emotionally intelligent workplace aims to promote emotionally intelligent growth, whereby irrational and impulsive behaviours are reduced and teams cooperate in the pursuit of goals and achievements that will serve to benefit themselves and their organisation. Ultimately this leads to better efficiency and productivity for the organisation, and improved career prospects for the individual.

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