For decades the term IQ has been bandied about as a prerequisite for career and life success. You either have a high IQ which makes you an achiever, or you don’t and get by perfectly well in life as an average employee. However the newest buzz word, Emotional Intelligence (EI), is something we can all get on board with because as humans we each possess multiple emotions and these emotions can be controlled, moulded and channelled to help us evolve into more productive professionals at the workplace.
So what by definition is Emotional Intelligence? It’s the ability to identify and control your own emotions and the emotions of others through skilled manipulation of emotional awareness. This ability to harness and consequently manage emotions is what can make a powerful leader (think politician). Obviously not every profession demands a high level of people skills or a deep understanding of human behaviour. But where it is required, and where it becomes catalyst for career advancement, a mastery of emotional intelligence can contribute to a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, culminating in a successful and lucrative career.
The theory of EI was proposed in 1990 by Peter Salovey (now Provost of Yale University) and John D Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire. According to Mayer, “People with high EI, we believed, could solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly. High EI people, for example, can accurately perceive emotions in faces. Such individuals also know how to use emotional episodes in their lives to promote specific types of thinking. They know, for example, that sadness promotes analytical thought and so they may prefer to analyze things when they are in a sad mood (given the choice). High EI people also understand the meanings that emotions convey: They know that angry people can be dangerous, that happiness means that someone wants to join with others, and that some sad people may prefer to be alone.”
Emotional intelligence skills are typically divided into four categories: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness and Relationship management. These skills when mastered and used in conjunction with conflict resolution tools can prove a potent armoury for the modern day corporate warrior.
“Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.”
FedEx Express, the world largest cargo airline with over 290,000 employees and one of Fortune’s top 20 “Most Admired” companies for a decade, has implemented EI assessment and development into a six-month on-boarding process for new managers with remarkable results. “The program is yielding an 8-11% increase in core leadership competencies, with over half the participants experiencing very large (10-50%) improvements in certain key emotional intelligence skills and leadership outcomes: 72% of the program participants experience very large increases in decision making; 60% in Quality of Life, and 58% show major improvements in Influence.”
Most companies still tend to focus their hiring process and consequent training on hard skills. Typically little attention has been placed on soft skill competencies such as stress/conflict management, assertiveness, empathy, and social aptitude. In the real world these are vital skills that build strong competency in employees and management and are reflected in a company’s success.
Conflict and stress are ever present in our lives and we learn to deal with the unpleasant and negative side effects the best way we can. Now with the availability of EI training courses the good news is that you can learn how to deal with difficult people, how not to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, when to take a step back, how to listen and communicate with empathy and a ton of other traits you never thought you could acquire. With some guidance and practice we can reprogram ourselves to don many facial masks, with accompanying body language and tone of voice, as the situation requires.
On Sunday 26th June ISM will be conducting a Summer Short Course titled “Self-Smart, People Smart – An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence”. This is an opportunity to explore and gain insight into your own level of emotional intelligence amidst a selected group of 18 participants. Contact ISM for more details.