When it comes to efficiency in the workplace, emotions have been commonly viewed as a hindrance. Management books have repeatedly underlined the importance of “leaving your feelings at the door”. Recently, however, the discussion has changed. Business practices are increasingly considering the importance of emotional intelligence, particularly in leadership roles. It is estimated that around 90% of authenticity and credibility is based on a person’s EQ as opposed to their IQ. It is, therefore, imperative that those in leadership positions have a clear understanding of this “other” intelligence.

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What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is “the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection and influence”. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term in order to understand the role feelings and emotions play in a person’s life by laying out a skillset that would maximise emotional usage. They concluded that “people who have developed skills related to emotional intelligence understand and express their own emotions, recognise emotions in others, regulate affect and use moods and emotions to motivate adaptive behaviours”.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Travis Bradeberry and Jean Greaves of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, outline four skills required to fully utilise emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Personal Competence

The first two skills are coupled under personal competence, which focuses on the individual ability to be aware of one’s own emotions and manage one’s own behaviours.

Self-awareness is the ability to recognise your own emotions and maintain control over them when interacting with people in specific situations and under pressure. Understanding your own self-awareness gives you the ability to identify why you are feeling a certain way. Strengthening your self-awareness also helps you communicate more clearly and effectively. You will be able to determine what is important and make better decisions as a consequence. Goals will be reached, motivation levels will rise and healthier, stronger, more rewarding relationships will form.

Self-management follows the development of emotional awareness. Once you are cognizant of your emotions, you can manage them and be in control. To have self-control is the ability to take your emotional awareness and use it towards establishing positive behaviours: to listen, remain calm during stressful situations and be patient, logical and sensitive. Mastery of self-management is the ability to apply self-control in a wide variety of situations.

Social Competence

The next two skills fall under social competence. Whereas the first two capabilities focus on individual emotions and behaviours, the following two focus on other people. To be socially competent is to be able to understand others’ moods, feelings, behaviours and motivations in order to actively improve relationship quality.

Social awareness is to be able to accurately glean and consider other people’s emotions and perspectives by focusing less on your own. Developing better listening and observation skills is at the core. Being socially aware means responding to what others say or to how they react, rather than to your own assumptions and expectations.

Relationship management is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and those of others in order to interact effectively and maintain long-term bonds. This skill often utilises previously developed ones, such as listening and understanding others’ emotions, towards effective communication.