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Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

A person’s emotional intelligence (EI) can be measured by one’s ability to manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.

Emotional Intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ), is the ability to manage one’s emotions and the emotions of others. The term emotional intelligence first appeared in a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch and gained popularity in 1995 in a book written by science journalist Daniel Goleman. Today, emotional intelligence is widely discussed in scientific and business communities and compared rigorously to intelligence quotient (IQ). EQ is vital for business leaders, as this guide will argue.

Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

In Goleman’s book, titled “Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” published in 1995, a framework comprised of five elements is used to characterise EI.

1. Self-awareness

The degree to which an individual can understand their own and others, emotions is the main component of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness involves the ability to recognise emotion and its effects.

2. Self-regulation

The degree to which an individual can control their emotions and impulses. People who self-regulate can avoid allowing their negative feelings to lead to a long-term negative effects, i.e., not making impulsive, careless decisions and thinking before they act.

3. Motivation

The degree to which an individual can motivate themselves and achieve their goals. Those motivated are achievement-driven, committed, optimistic, and take the initiative.

4. Empathy

The degree to which an individual can identify with and understand the viewpoints and needs of others. An empathetic person often has a high level of emotional intelligence and can recognise those around them even when those feelings may not be readily apparent.

5. Social skills

The degree to which an individual can communicate with others and build and maintain relationships.
The more individuals can manage each of these areas, the higher their emotional intelligence is.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

For business leaders, possessing a high EQ is essential to success. Let us revisit the five elements of a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) and their importance in characterising a successful leader.

1. Self-awareness

Being self-aware means getting a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Leaders understand their capabilities and can leverage their strengths while at the same time improving on their weaknesses.

2. Self-regulation

Leaders can regulate themselves effectively and control their emotions and impulses. For example, leaders do not make rash emotional decisions, verbally attack others, or compromise their values. Leaders hold themselves accountable, are calm, and understand their values.

3. Motivation

Leaders are motivated and formulate a goal that they consistently work toward. They hold themselves to a high standard and take the initiative when needed.

4. Empathy

Possessing empathy is crucial to the team or organisational management. Leaders take the time to develop and understand the people on their team. They recognise body language and feelings and can act accordingly in any situation.

5. Social skills

Leaders communicate effectively and are good at identifying and resolving conflicts. Leaders inspire others by leading by example and praising others when earned.

From the list above, you can see that the elements are highly similar to essential leadership traits. Leaders must gain a sound understanding of their emotions and the impact of their actions on the people around them.

Emotional Intelligence vs Intelligence Quotient (EQ vs IQ)

Emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ) are often contrasted; which is more important? There are arguments for and against each side, but the consensus is that both are important.

Initially, IQ was viewed as the primary determinant of success. However, critics pointed out in the past that IQ did not guarantee success in life. Therefore, the concept of emotional quotient was introduced alongside IQ as a determinant of success. In fact, in the business world, many companies place mandatory emotional intelligence training and utilise emotional intelligence tests in the hiring process. Emotional intelligence is an essential quality for business leaders and managers.

Success results from many factors. It is important not to undermine IQ and EI as they play an essential role in influencing overall success.

Tests for Emotional Intelligence

Several tests can help an individual determine their level of emotional intelligence. The two most popular emotional intelligence tests are:

  1. Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Test
  2. Daniel Goleman Model Score

If you would like more articles on soft skills that you feel will help you in your exam preparation, leave a comment in the comments box.

Philip Meagher
3 min read
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