History is filled with accounts of people who seemingly had everything needed for success – intelligence, vision, and determination. Somehow, though, employees destined for the top found themselves stuck midway up the corporate ladder.
In many cases, lack of emotional intelligence explains the stall.
Emotional intelligence falls under the umbrella of “soft skills” such as communication, relationship skills, and leadership. They’re called “soft” not because they’re easy, but because they’re more difficult to measure than “hard” skills, such as the ability to balance a budget or meet a deadline.
Soft skills such as emotional intelligence are crucial in today’s workplace. Some researchers believe emotional intelligence accounts for more than half of performance in many jobs.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is not about having a dynamic personality or being a charismatic leader. It’s about being aware of your emotions and being able to harness them to get the job done.
In the workplace, those who can master soft skills such as emotional intelligence are skilled at managing their relationships with others. They’ll know when someone needs to be cheered on or calmed down, and they’ll know how to do it. They’re great co-workers and fantastic bosses.
Certainly charisma – the ability to effectively communicate emotions, especially positive ones – is part of emotional intelligence. Charisma alone can have a downside, though, if people view it as phony or disingenuous.
For a leader to be truly effective, charisma is not enough. Leaders must also have other traits like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Those are the four elements that make up emotional intelligence.
Can Emotional Intelligence Be Learned?
Researchers are practically giddy about findings of studies over the past decade that have examined emotional intelligence and children.
Just as studies in the workplace have indicated, social and emotional awareness is a strong determining factor in academic success. Non-cognitive skills such as self-restraint, self-awareness and persistence, have in many instances been better predictors of success than test scores.
The studies have led school systems across the country and the world to develop programs that focus on these skills.
Businesses too began to key on emotional intelligence after a ground-breaking 2006 study demonstrated that workplace teams that received such training were able to better communicate and manage conflict after the sessions.
All of this information has led to today, where it’s not difficult to find a free webinar or a book on the topic. Most experts believe a sincere effort at improving will pay off.
“Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you weren’t born with it,” author Travis Bradberry wrote in an article for Forbes.
During the 2015 Forbes Mentor Week, Bradberry spoke about why professionals need emotional intelligence to succeed. You can see his presentation in the video.
Decades of research in academic and professional settings have indicated the key role emotional intelligence plays in success. Psychologists believe and studies have shown that while emotional intelligence can be innate, it also can be learned, meaning that most of us have the capacity to improve ourselves in an area that’s so crucial in school, business, and life.
Written by University Staff