14 May Emotional Intelligence (EI) – what is it and why is it important?
Emotional Intelligence – what is it and why is it important?
Interest in the topic of Emotional Intelligence has grown throughout the years and it has become a widely used framework in many organisations for the growth and development of employees.
So, what is Emotional Intelligence?
As per the definition, Emotional Intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how we:
- Perceive and express ourselves
- Develop and maintain social relationships
- Cope with challenges
- Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way
Emotional Intelligence related to our social and emotional skills and there is a clear indication in the definition that EI is not IQ, or Cognitive Intelligence, as is a common misinterpretation. IQ relates to one’s intellectual ability. There is no correlation between Emotional Intelligence and IQ, just because someone is extremely smart does not mean that they will navigate social or emotional situations very well. Think of it in this way, IQ can get you through school and college and into the interview, but your Emotional Intelligence will help you navigate the interview and could be the deciding factor in landing the job.
Now that we know what Emotional Intelligence is and is not, why is it important? Daniel Goleman is the pioneer of Emotional Intelligence and he brings deep insight to why Emotional Intelligence is important. Is not about being ‘nice’. This is a misconception. Consider what it means to be ‘nice’ – are you only nice to certain people so you can appear to be the star performer and then a different person to your direct reports? Are you so nice that you are manipulable and therefore walked all over? Considering this, why would we want to develop Emotional Intelligence, so we can all be ‘nice’? As Goleman says himself, Emotional Intelligence covers four components: ‘self-awareness’, ‘self-management’, ‘social awareness’, and ‘relationship management’. None of these equates to ‘niceness’, but they all contribute to the social and emotional functioning of humans.
Emotional Intelligence is important as understanding self and others is a huge part of navigating everyday life. Building on self-awareness and understanding can only give positive impacts on your own wellbeing, functioning, performance etc. For example, how do you handle a conflict? Do you feel that you get walked all over or avoid the confrontation? Or do you go headfirst into the conflict and spill your emotions? These are two extremes for handling conflict and good Emotional Intelligence gives a middle ground between these two as strong self-awareness and self-management allows you to control your impulses or anxiety around managing conflict.
Emotional Intelligence has been shown to be hugely important in our Leaders. The Emotional Intelligence of a leader transcends through the leader, through the organisation and can impact bottom-line results. A leader with high emotional intelligence will create a work environment that is trusting, where employees can take healthy risks and share freely, whereas a leader with low emotional intelligence creates a work environment that is riddled with fear and anxiety. Therefore, for leaders to develop their Emotional Intelligence, this can have a huge impact on organisational culture, performance, productivity, and wellbeing.
Therefore, the benefits of increasing one’s Emotional Intelligence, building self-awareness and creating a space for development is clear. Emotional Intelligence is important for all levels of an organisation due to the impact on everyday functioning and should not be considered a ‘washy’ or passive framework but something that is core to our lives and something that can be developed to allow us to work towards fulfilling our potential.
In Vitae Consulting, we host the training to get your employees Accredited to administer the EQ-I 2.0 and EQ360, which are two frameworks used by managers and leaders to help locate the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and to therefore coach their teams to have better Emotional Intelligence giving those key benefits mentioned above. The EQ-I 2.0 indicates areas for development for an individual in a self-report format and the EQ360 can give a more rounded view by incorporating managers, peers, friends and family as well as the individuals self-report.