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What Leaders Should Know About Emotional Intelligence

It can be difficult to know exactly why a business leader, or their projects, succeed. While it may be tempting to write off consistently successful entrepreneurs or business leaders as possessors of some sort of “it factor,” the truth is actually far more simple. Increasingly, business experts and analysts are finding that a leader’s Emotional Intelligence, or one’s Emotional Intelligence Quota (EQ), is a vital component of their success. Here is everything you need to know about what Emotional Intelligence is, what it means to be emotionally intelligent, and how you can improve your EQ to succeed in the workplace.

What Is The History Of ‘EQ?’

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get caught up on EQ since the concept of Emotional Intelligence – especially as it applies to business – is fairly new. Here’s a quick rundown of EQ research:

  • In 1990, psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Saloveyused the term “Emotional Intelligence” for the first time in a research paper.
  • A few years later, Mayer defined Emotional Intelligence in an article for the Harvard Business Review (HBR), defining Emotional Intelligence as the emotional maturity that allows a leader to perceive both their own and other’s emotions, as well as the ability to understand and manage the impact of emotions upon others.
  • In 1998, psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in his article “What Makes a Leader” that EQ was the most defining factor of a successful leader, according to his research, stating that even the most incisive, analytical and intelligent leaders will inevitably fail to be great if they lack EQ.
  • In 2001, Goleman- along with Case Western Reserve professor Richart Boyatzis and UPenn faculty member Annie McKee – delved into research that explored whether emotions could be contagious, as well as whether or not a leader’s emotional state was reflected in their company’s financial success. This research resulted in the article “Primal Leadership.”
  • In 2008, Goleman and Boyatzis did even more in-depth research into the inner-workings of social intelligence in the article “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership.”
  • Finally, in 2013, Goleman used neuroscience research to explain how leaders can increase their EQ by subjecting their attention to a process of constant self-examination and improvement in his article “The Focused Leader.”

While these landmarks may mark some of the most important studies that have been completed in an effort to define and understand EQ, we still suggest that you take some time to delve further into the history of EQ if you find the topic interesting.

What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

According to the Harvard Business Review, EQ is made up of four domains, which are then further divided into parts by competencies. These domains and competencies are classified as follows:

  • Self-Awareness. High EQ leaders in this domain possess attributes that include emotional self-awareness. This domain dictates whether or not a leader is aware of their own emotions and how those emotions will appear when conveyed to others.
  • Self-Management. High EQ leaders in this domain possess attributes that include emotional self-control, adaptability, an achievement orientation and a positive outlook. This domain dictates whether a leader is capable of regulating their emotions even when in frustrating or tense situations. It also dictates whether a leader can emotionally adapt to challenging circumstances in order to maintain a positive outlook and remain committed to their vision.
  • Social Awareness. High EQ leaders in this domain possess attributes that include empathy for others and organizational. This domain dictates whether a leader is capable of retaining empathy for their employees on a case-by-case basis, a task that can be difficult for leaders who employ dozens, hundreds or thousands of individuals.
  • Relationship Management. High EQ leaders in this domain possess attributes that include the ability to influence others, coach and mentor-like qualities, conflict management skills, teamwork skills and inspirational leadership qualities. This domain dictates whether or not a leader’s employees will see him or her as an inspiring leader. High EQ leaders should be positive, inspirational influences who are capable of coaching employees, resolving conflicts efficiently and successfully, and encouraging a positive company culture that revolves around teamwork.

What Are The Benefits Of High EQ?

If you find yourself reading this and mumbling “so what?” under your breath, you might be pleased (or displeased) to hear that there are real, quantifiable benefits to having high EQ leaders at the helm of a workplace.

  • Research has indicated that the highest performers across workforces and industries are typically the workers – and leaders – that have the highest EQ.
  • Moreover, EQ has been definitively tied to increased financial success. A study of over 40 Fortune 500 companies unveiled that salespeople with high EQ outperformed salespeople with low or medium EQ by around 50 percent.
  • Moreover, one study also found that employees of high EQ leaders and managers were 2.5 percent more profitable than employees of low EQ leaders or managers. For the business studies, that equated to a quarter of a million dollars in increased profit, just because the employees were willing to work harder for a leader they believed in.
  • High EQ leaders also tend to be more successful during high-stress situations such as negotiating a huge contract or a merger due to their ability to understand the emotions of others while regulating their own emotions.

How Can I Improve My EQ?

If you want to improve your own EQ in order to become a more successful leader and take your company to new heights, the good news is: you can! Here’s what we recommend:

    • Go over the domains and competencies of EQ that we listed earlier in this article and try to objectively evaluate which EQ skills you have, and which ones you lack.
    • You can also take an EQ test, such as this one provided by the Harvard Business Review.
    • Unfortunately, even if you believe that you’re a good judge of your own EQ, chances are you’re less reliable than you’d like to think. The Harvard Business Review reported that, although thousands of people they surveyed evaluated themselves as being high EQ, only about 10 to 15 percent of those individuals actually possessed high degrees of Emotional Intelligence.
    • So, what to do now? Well, we suggest opening up the floor to your own employees. While it might sting a bit, allowing your employees (or even your friends and family, if you’re brave) to anonymously tell you what aspects of EQ you lack can be invaluable. Take their feedback seriously and start working on the parts of EQ that they indicate could use a little bit of work.

On the other hand, you can always hire consultants to help you improve your EQ – such as our team here at HJR Global! Right now you can get the brand new book from HJR Global CEO Harrison Rogers that’s all about the real life applications of EQ.

To learn more, click here.