What exactly is emotional intelligence, how do we spot it and why is it good for business?
If you’re working in a laboratory or developing new research, there’s no doubt that having a high IQ is integral to success. But as businesses become more dynamic and diverse, emotional intelligence is fast becoming the most valuable skill for employers. In fact, some researchers estimate that EQ accounts for 75% of a person’s ability to succeed, suggesting personality plays a pretty big role as we move forward in a job.
But what exactly is emotional intelligence, how do we spot it and why is it good for business?
Having a high EQ means you are better equipped to handle emotional situations, involving both your own feelings and those of others. A learned behaviour, emotional intelligence impacts our interpersonal communications, and affects how we connect with others around us. It comprises four main skills including:
For example, someone with a lower EQ may not pick up on the signals of other people very quickly, particularly when these signs are subtle or they have to read between the lines. Alternatively they may lack self-awareness and be unable to regulate their own emotions which can lead to outbursts and arguments with other colleagues. While this may not be an issue for backend roles, such as IT development, it’s crucial for those in people-facing roles to communicate well. By contrast someone with a higher EQ may be able to guess when another staff member is feeling unhappy through their body language and communication, even if they don’t clearly state there’s a problem.
This quick uptake will enable them to empathise with the unhappy employee, and any differences are likely to be resolved more quickly. Surprisingly, many managers receive little training when they move into their leadership role, which can be challenging for them and the staff they’re working with. Having good emotional intelligence will automatically put a leader ahead of the game when it comes to picking up management skills. In addition to developing EQ, managers can benefit from inclusion and diversity training, to challenge their perceptions of diversity and inclusivity. By developing traits that make leaders more inclusive, teams are likely to become more creative and innovative. Individuals are able to draw from their own personal experiences and diverse backgrounds, enabling businesses to benefit from the cultural intelligence of their people and teams.
Around 60% of large companies now integrate EQ testing into their pre-interview screening processes, demonstrating just how many brands are now recognising its importance. From client relationships to dealing with external suppliers or colleagues, communication accounts for a huge part of our success. We’re also seeing rapid change in modern businesses, and the speed of innovation has never been faster. You’ll need to attract employees who can be flexible in their decision-making processes, a key part of having high EQ.
Generally you should get a good measure of someone’s EQ during the interview process, but it’s also worth checking out what kind of roles they have taken on in the past and how they’ve developed in them. Those who have been promoted in previous companies or taken on additional duties such as running committees or becoming a mentor are likely to have a high EQ. Though personality tests, such as Myers Briggs, can’t determine a person’s emotional intelligence, they can give you a good indication of a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and how well they’ll work with others.
While many people are naturally gifted with emotional intelligence. it is a skill that can be developed over time, so it’s important that companies invest in this. Whether it’s learning to recognise or manage your own emotions or specific skills, such as active listening, EQ can be taught to a degree. In addition to training people up on new tools or business related skills, it’s vital the brands recognise the importance of EQ skills, and factor them in to learning and development programmes accordingly.
Improving relationships within the business, developing emotional intelligence among employees can lead to a more cohesive team, better staff retention and happier people. All of these factors have a major impact on the long-term success of a business, leading to greater profits, improved client relationships and a strong reputation within the industry you operate in.
We've spent so much time learning how to present and engage in an online world that we need to think about how our skills have transformed. Are the human abilities we haven't used in a while still able and ready to influence people?
Finding the balance between what is suitable for your people and what business as usual might look like isn’t an easy task.