Emotional Intelligence — a key differentiator for success
Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as a capacity to perceive, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In today’s business world, emotional intelligence has become much more than a business buzzword — it is a criterion for effectiveness and success. The five components of emotional intelligence — self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy and social skills — can literally make or break a business professional. The World Economic Forum (WEF) lists emotional intelligence among the top ten essential skills in the workplace. EI is the skill that can give someone a competitive edge.
To be successful in today’s workplace, one needs to demonstrate a synergy of rational intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ). Researchers have found that 80% of our success in life can be attributed to EQ. It has also been shown that 90% of the top performers in the workplace have high EQ, and 80% of the low performers have low EQ. A popular business mantra says that IQ gets you hired, while EQ gets you promoted (or fired). The good news is that we can increase and hone our EQ.
Emotional intelligence as a strong performance booster
Emotional intelligence stands at a center of a positive feedback loop in which productivity, job satisfaction and motivation reinforce one another.
There is a strong correlation between emotional intelligence and team performance. Managers with a high emotional quotient boost the productivity of their teams. Studies also show that emotional intelligence is linked to higher job satisfaction, lower burnout (employee fatigue), and increased motivation. Organizations that nurture the development of high-EQ employees and leaders invest in the well-being of their people. Such a strategy brings many long-term benefits, including higher employee retention rates over the years. High employee turnover can have serious business implications.
Employees with high emotional quotient are also more resilient to a climate of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, typical for the business world. Emotional intelligence contributes to the development of a positive work environment and boosts the employee morale. This, in turn, lowers employee absenteeism and reduces the direct cost to the business.
Empathy at work — a strategy that fosters diversity and inclusion
Investing in the development of a high-EQ workforce is a strong people-centric strategy that yields multiple business returns. Empathetic leaders have better listening skills, establish trust across the team, and encourage diversity of opinions and approaches. In turn, they benefit from having more confident employees, get access to novel and genuine perspectives, and ensure employee cooperation.
Emotional intelligence enhances communication across teams and business functions
Effective cross-cultural communication is particularly relevant today, as most businesses operate across geographies and within large, complex networks of global players. Many teams become increasingly cross-functional, while business processes demand the involvement of multiple stakeholders across the organizational structure.
Teams with emotionally intelligent employees and managers communicate more effectively. Emotional intelligence minimizes the risk of miscommunication and conflict. Emotionally intelligent leaders develop a strong organizational culture that embraces diversity and different forms of expression. When employees feel safe to voice their opinions and feel appreciated for their contribution, they get better at problem-solving and at expressing their creativity. They know how to share and respond well to constructive feedback. Members of such teams become well-aligned with a common vision and shared project objectives. They develop a collective sense of goals. They begin to collaborate more effortlessly towards achieving a set business target.
Emotional intelligence guards against unethical business practices
Business professionals with an exceptionally high emotional quotient are expert communicators, quick to pick multiple cues from their dynamic work environment and to offer adequate responses. This makes them excel at persuasion and negotiation. At the same time, this aptitude in perceiving and interpreting other’s emotions helps them take notice of potentially damaging people and situations. This sill shields them against potential manipulation and deception from less ethical stakeholders (business partners and even coworkers).
Using emotional intelligence to anticipate challenges and to prepare for a change
Emotionally competent leaders are well-prepared to handle difficult stakeholders, adverse circumstances, and painful changes both within and without the organization. When the stakes are high, the high-EQ manager does not allow the emotionally-charged climate to take over the decision-making process. They do not get overwhelmed by their own emotions, nor do they allow the emotions of others dictate their management decisions. Emotionally strong leaders know how to handle pressure, and how to instill optimism in others. They provide assurance to the employees, and continue to communicate effectively at the height of the crisis. They become facilitators of smooth transition.
Emotional intelligence drives innovation
Emotionally intelligent employees are confident, self-motivated and inspired. They contribute to the development of a healthy work environment in which brainstorming, debate and collaborative problem-solving generate new solutions. High-EQ employers embrace challenges as an opportunity to learn, develop new skills, and create something new. High-EQ managers are flexible team leaders, active listeners and empathetic leaders. Such a climate fosters creativity and innovation, and rewards those who are ready to take successful initiatives.
EI-based leadership style contributes to building a positive CSR reputation
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are no longer considered as optional (good-to-have) elements of the business strategy. Without a social license to operate, businesses can face operational, reputational, regulatory and financial risks. Companies who have established themselves as good corporate citizens consider the ‘triple P’ — People, Planet and Profit. The ‘first P’ — People — is multidimensional. It takes into consideration the impact which a particular organization has on its own employees, the local communities in which it operates, and on humanity in general.
To establish itself as a responsible citizen, an organization needs to first put its own house in order. This means taking care of the employee well-being. Mere compliance with laws and regulations (human rights, labor standards etc.) is not sufficient. Many sustainability indices (including the benchmark Dow Jones SI) measure diversity, inclusion, employee retention and employee grievances. It is important to know that large investors use these sustainability rankings to make investment decisions. Low sustainability performance is seen as a risk and can significantly curb an organization’s ability to secure capital investment.
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