In 1995 Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter more than IQ, and it was this book that really brought emotional intelligence into the mainstream. The concept of emotional intelligence was not new. In 1980s and 90s John Meyer and Peter Salovey and Howard Gardner had all been looking at these concepts. As early as 1983 Reuben Bar-On was asking why some people have better psychological well-being than others and why some succeed regardless of their cognitive abilities.
So what is emotional intelligence? Multi-Health Systems (creators of the EQ-i Assessment Test) define it as, a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we: perceive and express ourselves; develop and maintain social relationships; cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. Collectively it is referred to as a person’s Emotional Quotient (EQ).
I am sure that you can cite examples from your own experience where people who were bright and tipped as “most likely to succeed” did not fulfill on this promise and conversely people written off by the academic system have gone on to achieve great success in their lives. Increasingly in business, technical skills and cognitive intelligence (IQ) are seen as essential but not necessarily the differentiator for success.
It can now be argued that in order to take full advantage of these cognitive abilities you need good emotional intelligence. Here are four reasons why:
Firstly, if you alienate people with your manner or cannot effectively read the social cues they are giving off, then you will probably never even get the chance to impress them with how smart you are.
Secondly, although the skills and characteristics associated with emotional intelligence are sometimes referred to as soft skills, they can now be reliably measured. Thanks to research-based frameworks such as the EQ-I assessment, characteristics such as empathy, emotional awareness and expression can be quantified. This makes it a valued, real-world tool in the same way as measuring intelligence via the IQ scale gained its current position.
Thirdly, and maybe most importantly EQ is not fixed. Pretty much regardless of age, gender or ethnic background you can develop and enhance your emotional intelligence. Also EQ is not highly correlated to IQ, i.e. you don’t need a high IQ to develop a higher EQ. Research shows that generally your EQ goes up with age. Although people carry on learning, their cognitive intelligence (IQ) peaks at around 17yrs. EQ typically develops with age, levelling off as you get around 40yrs+.
Lastly, research now shows that EQ accounts for somewhere between 27 to 45% of job success. Major commercial organisations have been putting programmes in place to enhance EI within their organisations and are showing a real return on their investment and an impact on the bottom line.
Enhanced emotional intelligence is shown to link to higher sales and profits; increased performance, improved customer satisfaction, decreased attrition rates and reductions in training costs – so EQ does matter.