As we mentioned in our first post, emotional intelligence, or EQ, was introduced over 20 years ago. It has been a popular topic since then because the assumption for years was that high IQ is synonymous with success. However, research has found that people with average IQs frequently outperform those with higher IQs, with the main differentiator often being EQ. TalentSmart tested EQ along with many other workplace skills and found that EQ was the strongest predictor of job performance. In fact, they found that 90 percent of top performers have high EQ. If you have an advanced skill set but can’t function within your workplace, you’ll only get so far. EQ lays the foundation for a host of valuable skills and impacts almost everything you do.

EQ and Job Performance

EQ is particularly important for salespeople, real estate agents, customer service representatives, counselors and others who deal with people. These jobs require people to read and regulate emotions and deal with stressful situations without getting worked up. Many technical skills are easier to teach on the job than EQ. That’s why it may be wise to incorporate EQ testing into your company’s hiring process. Of course, its usefulness depends on the position. EQ isn’t as crucial for positions with few emotional demands.

People with high EQ can leverage their skills in group settings to work well with co-workers. For example, they:

  • May be more likely to accurately perceive the attitudes, goals and interests of members of the team
  • Can regulate their own emotions to influence the group and help the team accomplish a task

EQ and Corporate Performance

There are many cases of companies that have focused on EQ and seen improved performance as a result. Examples include:

  • A French pharmaceutical company focused on improving the EQ skills of its sales force and saw a 12-percent boost in annual performance.
  • Motorola introduced EQ training at one of its manufacturing plants and as a result, 90 percent of those trained showed improved productivity.
  • The Sheraton hotel chain developed an EQ program, which produced much higher customer satisfaction, less employee turnover and more market share.

There are a number of reasons why EQ can increase corporate performance. One is that managers and executives with high EQ know how to inspire their workforce by sparking employee engagement, nurturing strong company morale and motivating people to go above and beyond the call of duty. Employees are more likely to go the extra mile for leaders they respect. EQ helps managers understand their team’s motivations and assist employees in tapping into their professional potential. EQ can also equip supervisors to resolve conflicts in the workplace.

EQ and Leadership

Looking back at our post about high EQ characteristics, those are traits you want your employees (especially in leadership roles) to possess as they work to advance your company’s goals. EQ is linked to self-control, perseverance, performance under pressures and resilience. Managers with high EQ are aware of their own strengths and weakness, as well as others. They are highly attuned to the emotions of others. They know how to react in situations, develop connections, make people feel better and influence others.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman, an internationally known psychologist, stated:

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but … they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

Imagine a workplace where your employees and leaders:

  • Understand their emotions and their effect on others
  • Know their weaknesses and what they need to work on
  • Leverage their strengths
  • Are aware of the impact their mood has on others
  • Work collaboratively with teams
  • Take responsibility for their emotions and don’t attribute them to others
  • Honestly express their feelings and opinions with consideration and respect to others
  • Show empathy toward co-workers
  • Are difficult to offend
  • Are agents of change and seize opportunities to contribute to the greater good
  • Don’t jump to conclusions or hold grudges
  • Reframe negative situations
  • Admit their mistakes
  • Act with optimism 

Conversely, Watch out for Pitfalls of Low EQ

It’s important to work collaboratively with your team and realize that success should come as a result of working well with co-workers and building teammates up, rather than coming at the expense of others. Be on the lookout for these potential negative characteristics, in yourself or others, as you work to advance your career:

  • Needing to win or be right at any cost
  • Setting overly ambitious or unattainable goals for the team
  • Compulsively working at the expense of other areas of life
  • Pushing team members too hard
  • Taking over projects instead of delegating
  • Seeking power for one’s self rather than the group
  • Having an insatiable need for recognition
  • Being unable to admit mistakes or see weakness due to a need for perfection

How to Incorporate EQ Into Your Workplace

If you hold a leadership position at your company, here are some ideas for building EQ among your workforce:

  • Adopt EQ testing as part of your organization’s hiring process.
  • Provide EQ training via lunch and learns, workshops or other avenues.
  • Create an educational campaign that teaches EQ skills. For example, you could help your workforce build their emotional vocabulary. Develop a monthlong campaign in which you send a “feeling word of the day.” This will help employees learn more accurate descriptors that capture how they feel, to better deal with their own emotions and recognize them in others.
  • Challenge your employees to set aside at least 15 minutes every day to practice mindfulness and introspection. This provides time to tune into their thoughts, feelings and biases. They can even use this time to note their emotions in a journal.
  • Send daily emails or texts for a period of time (e.g., a week or a month) that prompt employees to reflect on their current emotional state. Encourage employees to ask themselves the following:
    • What exactly am I feeling right now?
    • How is it impacting my decisions and actions?
    • What can I do about it?

This is the final installment of our four-part series. We hope it has provided a better understanding of EQ, ways to build it and how it can strengthen your personal and professional life.