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Emotional intelligence: An essential component of professional success

Written by Staff Writer

August 8, 2023

By Raine St.Claire

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

Employers commonly assess candidates’ cognitive abilities to gauge their potential for comprehending and integrating information – a traditional approach that emphasises logical and analytical intelligence (IQ). However, this method is now expanding to include emotional intelligence (EQ), an emerging concept increasingly recognised as a vital aspect of an individual’s skill set.

In fact, the “Future of Jobs Survey 2020” conducted by the World Economic Forum predicted that emotional intelligence would be a key skill required by businesses in 2025.

Understanding emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence pertains to an individual’s ability to recognise and contextualise their own emotions and the emotions of others. The concept originated from Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed in the 1980s. This theory hypotheses that individuals possess varied intellectual capacities, corresponding to specific attributes such as musical or athletic prowess.

Multiple intelligence theory

Emotional intelligence diverges from rational intelligence in its emphasis. While IQ deals with facts and rigorous logical reasoning, EQ pertains to the application of facts and reasoning. Some speculate that high emotional intelligence (measured by EQ) might carry more weight in the business realm compared to high rational intelligence (measured by IQ).

Contributions from psychologists like Dr. Daniel Goleman have refined our understanding of emotional intelligence, focusing on two of Gardner’s proposed intellectual forms:

  • Interpersonal Intelligence: The capacity to perceive and respond to the emotional states, motivations, and desires of others.
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence: Self-awareness and alignment with one’s own values, beliefs, and cognitive processes.

Ideally, these two forms of intelligence work in harmony. In the absence of the guiding influence of rational intelligence, emotional intelligence can become excessively subjective, impeding the pursuit of business goals. When effectively harnessed, however, emotional intelligence becomes instrumental in fostering internal collaboration and forging external partnerships within professional contexts.


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The relevance of emotional intelligence in the workplace

At its highest level of refinement, emotional intelligence empowers individuals to empathetically understand alternate viewpoints, even when they differ from their own.

Emotional intelligence yields substantial benefits within modern workplaces and for all stakeholders across various functions:

  • Empowering leaders to identify and capitalise on opportunities that others might overlook.
  • Facilitating fair and impartial recognition and resolution of conflicts.
  • Cultivating higher morale and assisting individuals in unlocking their professional potential.
  • Enabling leaders to motivate and inspire exceptional performance by understanding others’ motivations.
  • Encouraging diverse participation and safeguarding against the pitfalls of groupthink.

Much like rational intelligence, emotional intelligence can be developed through dedicated effort and learning. The initial step towards enhancing emotional intelligence often involves strengthening introspective capabilities. Gaining insight into one’s thought processes, emotions, and biases can lead to more balanced decision-making. Practising emotional intelligence frequently requires acting confidently, transcending concerns about status, and scrutinising impulsive reactions.

Facilitating the recruitment process

While technical skills can be cultivated through training, nurturing emotional intelligence in new employees is notably more intricate. Organisations can incorporate theories of emotional intelligence into their hiring and professional development processes across all hierarchical levels.

For instance, entry-level candidates could undergo assessments of their “EQ” while competing for new roles or promotions. High-potential individuals identified as future leaders might produce better outcomes if their development process encompasses emotional intelligence.

While emotional intelligence could potentially benefit all employees, not all roles necessitate highly developed emotional intelligence. Nonetheless, as one progresses up the organisational hierarchy, the importance of emotional intelligence tends to amplify, and its absence might heighten the probability of high-stakes failures. Professionals in domains such as human resources or public relations consistently derive advantages from emotional intelligence. Actively assessing these candidates’ emotional development status can assist companies in maximising their contributions and future development endeavours.

Navigating the globalised economy with agility

As the global economy evolves into an environment characterised by collaboration, negotiation, and communication—highlighting the intricacies inherent in such interactions—emotional intelligence plays an increasingly substantial role on the public stage.

Emotional intelligence exhibits correlations with attributes like resilience, self-control, and performance under pressure. It equips leaders, regardless of their expertise, with the emotional resilience needed to adapt to change and confront setbacks.

Regardless of the transformations in the economy, conventional intelligence will invariably retain its immense significance.

Nevertheless, even roles that are profoundly technical now involve heightened interaction with diverse stakeholders, advocating for positions in complex environments, and investing intellectual and emotional resources to navigate uncertainty. Both rational and emotional intelligence are entrenched and irreplaceable, with comprehensive leaders embodying and honing both forms.

A novel perspective for the workplace

Deliberately acknowledging emotional intelligence in the workplace not only grants business leaders a deeper understanding of the capabilities of current and prospective employees but also endows them with a broader outlook on their enterprise as a whole.

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