Emotional intelligence is a hot concept that is popping up all over popular literature and within organizations, but what is it? A 2004 research article defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as “the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.” In short, EQ is a person’s ability to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions and the emotions of others, while being aware that emotions can drive their behavior. Daniel Goleman, the researcher and author responsible for popularizing the concept, outlines five components of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness: Ones’ ability to recognize and understand their own mood and emotions, and the impact that they are having on the environment around them. Self-aware individuals are typically more self-confidence and have more realistic self-assessments.

2. Self-regulation: Ones’ ability to think before acting and controlling their impulses or moods. Integrity, trustworthiness, openness to change, and comfort with ambiguity are a by-product of self-regulation.

3. Internal motivation: The person’s motivations come from within them and are driven by passion rather than extrinsic factors such as success or pay. Individuals that are intrinsically motivated are optimistic when facing failure, have higher organizational commitment, and have a strong drive to succeed.

4. Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Empathetic individuals are more cross-culturally sensitive and have expertise in building and retaining talent.

5. Social skills: The ability to build and manage healthy networks and relationships. Individuals with social skills are generally persuasive and are proficient in building and leading teams or change initiatives.

So why is this important to you? A survey conducted by CareerBuilder reported that 71% of employers say that they value EQ over general intelligence (IQ) because individuals that are high on EQ know how to effectively resolve conflict, stay calm under pressure, be more thoughtful when making business decisions, lead by example, and show empathy towards others. We have curated a list of reasons why it is important for your organization to pay attention to EQ.

EQ predicts performance.

Recent literature has found a link between individuals with high EQ and performance. TalentSmart recently conducted a study that involved EQ and a handful of other important workplace skills. They found that EQ was the strongest predictor of performance and is responsible for 58% of a person’s job performance. More so, they found that 90% of top performers have high EQ. EQ has been found to have twice the predictive power than IQ when it comes to performance, and predicts better than skill, knowledge, or expertise. If you want a high performance work environment, EQ may be a large piece of the puzzle that may be critical to pay attention to.

EQ is important in leadership.

A study conducted in a European McDonalds found that 47% of managers performance is predicted by EQ scores. That is a lot of predictive power! EQ has been found to be correlated with several factors of transformational leadership; a style of leadership that has been found to increase behavioral engagement, increase organizational citizenship behaviors, and correlate with follower satisfaction, group/organizational performance, and leader effectiveness. EQ may play a role in a leaders ability to monitor and respond to their employees, and managing how they feel at work. Furthermore, leaders with higher levels of empathy (a component of EQ) have been found to have stronger financial performance. Current research is filling up with links between EQ and leadership effectiveness, make sure your leaders don’t fall behind the trend.

EQ helps relationships.

Each of the five elements discussed above contribute to a persons ability to build and maintain relationships. There is a hypothesized link between high levels of EQ and a person’s ability to interact with their colleagues. Individuals with high EQ have more prominent interpersonal communication skills and have the ability to get the best out of others. More importantly, EQ individuals have a better ability to engage in conflict resolution by utilizing social awareness, managing their own emotions and the emotions of their colleagues, and effectively communicating.

EQ helps make better decisions.

Emotions have the capacity to hijack a person’s ability to reason and perform, both negative and positive. It has been found that with provocation, a person’s ability to reason and logic can drop by upwards of 75%. Individuals with high levels of EQ can regulate their emotions, understanding that their emotions drive their behavior and impact the environment around them. The regulation of emotions allows more cognitive bandwidth to reason and make rational decisions.

EQ can be developed.

This is the best part of the article; with all the positive that comes along with high EQ, what sets EQ apart from criteria such as IQ and personality is that it can be developed. According to Lifehack and popular literature, there are several ways individuals can start improving their emotional intelligence:

1. Practice observing how you feel.
2. Pay attention to your behavior.
3. Assume responsibility for how you feel and behave.
4. Don’t react, practice responding.
5. Take advantage of opportunities to empathize with others.
6. Embrace positivity and reverberate it throughout your environment.
7. Know that these steps aren’t a mean to an end, EQ is a lifetime journey

Are your curious to know how your organization stacks up in terms of EQ? Reach out to our team here at Critical Metrics, we’d love to help.