More than high IQ and technical skills, studies show that it is one’s emotional intelligence (EQ) that proves to be twice as important in any type of work setting.
When asked to think of an ideal leader, who comes to mind? While attributes such as a high IQ and technical skills are definitely important, it is one’s EI—or emotional intelligence—that is often overlooked. Come to think of it, one might picture a leader who never lets their temper get the best of them (especially on live television); another might think of someone cool and calm, who listens to the problems of others and makes informed decisions from it. Studies show that it is twice as important as other attributes mentioned for jobs at all levels. To avoid confusion, however, let us first define what exactly it is.
Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of and control one’s emotions, and be able to handle interpersonal relationships judicially and empathetically. In a 1996 article for the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman broke it down into five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Let us break each component down.
To be self-aware is to know one’s strengths, weaknesses, goals and values. Beyond this, it is recognizing one’s emotions and how they can affect other people. People who have this are often open to constructive criticism and growth.
Self-regulation, on the other hand, means to be able to control and redirect disruptive emotions and impulses. This doesn’t mean hiding whatever it is you feel—you can simply wait for the right time and place to address these, and in an appropriate way. Using threats is definitely not a hallmark of this.
What drives a leader? Is it money? Status? According to Goleman, someone with emotional intelligence would be driven to achieve for the sake of achievement, looking for ways to do better for themselves and their company and/or the country. In other words, they are driven to do what they believe is right.
Many of us are already familiar with this, which is to be able to understand how someone else is feeling by putting yourself in their shoes. More than retaining this sensitivity, it also involves your responses to people based on this information.
Last but definitely not the least is social skills—being able to manage relationships to move people in desired directions. Of course, it is important to build rapport in the place you work and to be able to build and lead teams. Skills that fall under this include active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, leadership, and persuasiveness.
As our country deals with the current health crisis, we look to our leaders for guidance, whether at work or in the government. In addition to their actions, it is important to note that the basis of standing by a leader should include whether or not they have emotional intelligence as well. Another thing to think about: how does your own emotional intelligence rank compared to your other traits? While some people have it naturally, the good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned, as long as you’re willing.