Emotional Intelligence is the ability to use your emotions in a positive and constructive way in relationships with others. It's about engaging with others in a way that brings people towards you, not away from you. Emotional Intelligence is about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and being “choiceful” about how you interact and engage with them. It is about choosing to engage people in a positive and constructive manner, and it can help tremendously in the workplace.
Emotional Intelligence is divided into 4 basic competencies. Each competency has several skills or personality traits.
1. Self Awareness
This is recognizing how emotions affect one's performance. It requires an accurate self assessment, a candid sense of one's personal strengths and limits and then being able to accurately identify one's own areas of improvement. Self-aware individuals are reflective and learn from experience. They are open to candid feedback, new perspectives and self-development.
2. Self Management
This is the ability to manage one's internal states, impulses, and resources. It means being choiceful in interactions with others and the ability to manage or control reactions to difficult situations. Personality traits include self control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, innovation and optimism.
3. Awareness of Others (Social Awareness)
This is the awareness of other people's feelings, needs, and concerns. It means having empathy, seeking to understand others and being able to read and tune in to the emotional state of others. Social awareness skills include understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity and having political awareness.
4. Relationship Management
This competency is about successfully engaging with others. It includes the ability to communicate, relate and listen well to others and to induce desirable responses in them. People with this ability understand that emotions are contagious. They can adapt their communication styles to people and situations.
EI in the Workplace
Emotional Intelligence is extremely useful at work. Most workplaces rely on different people working together to create a product or service. The workplace is not “all business.” It is a social network and, as such, it is a hotbed of emotions, egos, stress and conflict. Emotional Intelligence can help you develop robust relationships, solve problems using both logic and feelings, maintain an optimistic and positive outlook, cultivate flexibility in stressful situations, help others express their needs, respond to difficult people and situations calmly and thoughtfully and respond to change with grace and calm.
Many people assume that a high IQ is more important than high EI skills. While both are important, many studies show that EI is a much more accurate determinant for success and career growth than technical skills or a high IQ. Today's workplaces are fast moving and full of change. The ability to roll with the punches is huge. You'll get the best out of your employees if you create an emotionally intelligent workplace and you'll be a better employer or leader if you use your EI.
Emotional Intelligence really comes into play when it comes to managing and dealing with difficult people, including customers, employees, colleagues, and bosses. Your ability to understand and empathize goes a long way. EI is important for managing change, understanding the political landscape for a new project, dealing well with setbacks or workplace obstacles, motivating and influencing others and working with or for a team with different personalities.
Some people are born with natural EI sills. In certain fields, EI goes hand in hand with success, like sales. Some people are natural born salesmen. Many companies actually use EI competency testing as criteria for selection into highly engaging positions like sales. A recent survey showed that companies that selected their sales people by using EI competency criteria decreased their first year turnover rate by a whopping 63 percent.
But EI can also be taught and many companies hire consultants like me to host workshops to train employees on emotional intelligence. If companies are truly committed to creating a positive workplace, this can be a great way to start.
EI works on the self-employed as well. First of all, very few people actually work “alone.” Even if you are a sole task producer you still have to create something for a customer and client, so your ability to manage your relationships, even if it is just one or two, is pretty important. And you still have to manage yourself. Your state of mind will absolutely affect your work product. Being able to manage your own emotional landscape will definitely help improve your work product and process.
How Employers Can Use EI
Employers and managers should think about what kind of climate will get the best out of their employees. It always makes me cringe when I see leaders use oppressive tactics to drive performance. It really isn't a successful long-term strategy, especially if you hit hard economic times. A person's relationship with their employer is and has always been a leading factor in an employee's decision to stay or go, and contributes greatly to their productivity.
So if you want to improve your image as a leader, get feedback and be willing to make improvements in yourself and your management style. And remember, being emotionally intelligent is not about “being soft” or forgoing the bottom line. It's about creating and maintaining constructive and generative relationships and environments, and that helps your bottom line.
EI is critical for top leaders. In fact, the higher your position in a company, the more important emotional intelligence becomes. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the biggest reason that managers fail is because of poor interpersonal skills. Another survey showed that 85 percent of the difference between a good leader and an excellent leader is emotional intelligence.
You can easily see this when you ask people what qualities they think make a great leader or boss. Eighty-five percent of the qualities they name are usually EI qualities while only a handful turns out to be technical skills. EI is critical for a good leader.
Employers are always looking for people who are not only book smart, but are also charismatic, optimistic and resilient. They want people who are not afraid to use emotional intelligence to get ahead. Find out where you stand so you can use your EI to get ahead. Whether you are an employee, a boss, a manager or are self-employed, EI is a critical component of your success.
To find out more about EI and how to measure it, take a look at http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports/technical_report.html