Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

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Emotional Intelligence and Workplace Success

We’ve all come across numerous articles spouting the need for us to get in touch with our feelings and be willing to share our feelings with others – but, in the workplace, with a coworker or with our boss? You’ve got to be kidding, right? No, I’m actually not.

Many experts in the field of business psychology have concluded that there is a direct correlation between success in the workplace and emotional intelligence (EQ). What is emotional intelligence and why is it important in the workplace? EQ is one’s ability to cope with daily situations and to get along in the world, to recognize one’s owns feeling and those of other people, and to be able to motive oneself and others. EQ is also believed by many as a measure one’s effectiveness in the workplace.

IQ versus EQ

Sounds rather simple, but all too often, many of us fall into dated views that our IQ and/or educational background are the key drivers to past and future successes. Contemporaries believe that IQ by itself in not an effective predictor of job performance. But rather, it is a combination of IQ and EQ that provides a better measure of success in the workplace. We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also how well we handle ourselves and each other. This realm of thinking is increasingly applied to who will be hired and who will not. (Goleman, 1998) According to personnel executives, IQ may get you hired, but EQ will get you promoted. (www.time.com– Understanding Psychology)

Best selling author, Dr. Daniel Goleman has championed heightened awareness on this subject through his books “Emotional Intelligence” and “Working with Emotional Intelligence.” Both books have been enormously influential and have played a key role in adopting the notion of EQ in mainstream business thinking. Dr. Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence proposes four broad domains of EQ which consist of 19 competencies. The following chart illustrates the domains and the inter-relationship between the competencies.

          SELF                 SOCIAL
Self-Awareness               Social Awareness
Self-Confidence              Empathy
Emotional Self-Awareness     Organizational Awareness
Accurate Self-Assessment     Service Orientation

Self Management              Relationship Management
Self-Control                 Influence
Trustworthiness              Inspirational Leadership
Conscientiousness            Developing Others
Adaptability                 Influence
Achievement                  Building Bonds
Drive to Succeed             Teamwork and Collaboration


• Emotional self-awareness: Reading one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact

• Accurate self-assessment: knowing one’s strengths and limits

• Self-confidence: a sound sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities


• Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control

• Transparency: Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness

• Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles

• Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence

• Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities

• Optimism: Seeing the upside in events

Social Awareness

• Empathy: Sensing others’ emotions, understanding their perspectives, and taking active interest in their concerns

• Organizational awareness: Reading the currents, decision networks, and politics at the organizational level

• Service: Recognizing and meeting follower, clients, and customer needs

Relationship Management

• Inspirational leadership: Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision

• Influence: Wielding a range of tactics for persuasion

• Developing others: Bolstering others’ abilities through feedback and guidance

• Change catalyst: Initiating, managing, and leading in the new direction

• Conflict management: Resolving disagreements

• Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships

• Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team building

With few levels of management in today’s organizations, management styles tend to be less autocratic. In addition, the move towards more knowledge based, team working, and customer focused jobs means that individuals generally have more autonomy, even at fairly low levels within organizations. (www.psychometic-success.com) So how can we apply Goleman’s insight to increase our own probability of success? Spend time getting to know and evaluating yourself and how you relate to others. Ask yourself questions like the following:

Know Yourself

1. What makes you think, act, and feel the way you do?

2. What parts of your reaction are habitual and which parts are intentional?

3. What motivates you?

Choose Yourself

1. How do you know what is right for you?

2. Can you increase your awareness of actions so that you can see their effects on yourself and on others?

3. Can you live with doing less than what is right?

Know Others

1. What makes others think, act, and feel the way they do?

2. How can I recognize and respond to other’s emotions?

3. How can I encourage and motivate others?

It is unlikely that your emotional intelligence skills will drastically improve by reading a book or this article or taking a training class. It takes time, training, and a great deal of practice. As products and services and skills continue to be commoditized, the ability to distinguish oneself or a product is becoming more difficult. However, leveraging EQ enables us to create a competitive advantage through a focus on other’s needs, relationships, and leadership style.

The role of EQ in leadership

The leader of today and tomorrow must not simply have a vision that inspires others, but be able to execute it successfully to ensure that vision becomes a reality. (D. Dunning, Leadership in the Millennium) But, how does one ensure successful execution in today’s rapidly changing and dynamic business world – through focused and intentional leadership development. For instance consider the following action plan, which can be used by those mentoring and by those wanting to improve their leadership skills.

1. Begin with an end in mind – what does the aspiring leader need to do or know? What skills or competencies mush be acquired to accomplish the goals.

2. Truthfully level regarding gaps – Be honest with individuals about the gap that exists between where they are currently and where they want to be. Help them develop a plan to get there and provide supportive feedback along the way.

3. Develop real time learning opportunities – Give people learning assignments from real-life situations or issues. To grow, people need “stretch goals and assignments.”

4. Provide continuous feedback and support – Small group feedback is an effective way to provide constructive and effective feedback.

5. Be sure to celebrate victories – Acknowledging and publicizing success, giving credit and kudos is a way to demonstrate how you and the company value its people and their contributions.

6. Don’t allow resting on one’s laurels – begin the cycle again with new goals and objectives for growth and development.

A single leader may be able to effectively solve simple technical problems, but today’s complex problems require an alliance of diverse individuals and groups contributing unique knowledge, experience, and expertise. It is the workforce, in creative alliance with leadership, which drives effective change – not the individual leader. Emotional Intelligence plays an integral role in the success of today’s as well as tomorrow’s leaders. Leaders with high EQs focus on leading by teaching. They understand the power of appreciation, they remind others of what’s important, generate and sustain trust, and they build alliances with their staffs.

This is the information age. All of us are dependent on information and using it wisely. The advent of the EQ model enriches our knowledge of the information surrounding us – it tells us emotional information is there and that some people can see it and use it. The model encourages all of us to use EQ information wisely – whether through our own direct understanding, or through the assistance of those who do understand.

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