Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been a mainstream topic for more than two decades thanks to the work of Daniel Goleman and his book Emotional Intelligence. The book focuses on the role that emotions play in thought, decision making, and individual success, and that this role is much greater than most people realise. In fact, research has found that there is a positive link between EI and psychological wellbeing. [1] Specifically, self‐esteem, life satisfaction, and self‐acceptance are greatest in individuals who have high levels of EI.

Traditionally work was a place where employees were expected to ‘leave emotions at the door’. However, several of Goleman’s subsequent books and research have focused on EI and its role in business and have revealed direct links between emotional intelligence and business results. When someone has a high level of EI, they have the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions in themselves and others. People with high EI are skilled at understanding and relating to others and these skills have a significant impact on not only workplace relationships but also performance. EI is even considered to have a greater impact on job performance than traditional measures of intelligence, including IQ.

A lot of skills critical for business success, innovative thinking, engagement, and adaptability, are tied to our emotions and social behaviours. Since EI is such an important factor for professional success, organisations should be focused on nurturing EI in its employees. EI can, in fact, be a useful measure when organisations are making decisions regarding hiring, promotions, and employee development.

The business case for fostering more EI in the workplace is clear, however EI is not easy to develop because it is linked to psychological and neural pathways. It takes a long-term, concerted effort to change ingrained habits of social interaction and emotional self-control. For an organisation to influence the EI of its employees, it needs to provide:

Education

When an organisations’ employees understand what emotional intelligence is and how it can play a role in their professional and personal success, they will be more interested in engaging in learning and training. An organisation can provide learning opportunities through self-guided resources, external EI experts, or EI assessments.

Encouraging Social Responsibility

One of the highest measures of EI is social responsibility. Social responsibility is about being selfless and making contributions to others.  An organisation can encourage social responsibility through team volunteer events or by allowing employees to take time off to volunteer for causes of their choice.

Sense of Trust

Organisations can create an environment of trust by giving employees freedom and autonomy. Allowing employees, the creativity to structure their workload and providing flexible working arrangements can foster trust and engagement.

EI plays a critical factor in an individual’s well-being and relationships, but it also has a significant impact on the workplace. Developing and improving one’s EI takes time and patience, but the benefits include great engagement, retention, performance, and communication.

[1] https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/02683940910922546

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