professional development

Why emotional intelligence is the new black

Lisa Stephenson /

You’ve likely heard of Daniel Goleman. It was 1995 when he suggested to the world the ability to manage one’s own emotions and those of others was more important than how intellectually smart an individual is. This was further backed by The Future of Jobs report which says emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.

Emotional intelligence — commonly referred to as emotional quotient (EQ) — has been said to be twice as important as intellectual ability (IQ) by the highly respected Harvard Business School. That should be enough to convince you this article is worth a read but if not, I challenge you to consider the consequences of not making learning everything about EQ a priority.

Also, if you don’t get this EQ thing right you might be called a ‘dumbass’ when you’re not in the room.

Some people are naturally emotionally intelligent — lucky them. But working with leaders, entrepreneurs and chief executives all across the world has shown me that you can absolutely build your skills and capacity over time with some simple strategies and daily habits.

Emotional intelligence really is the new black! It’s a hot topic that’s always on the agenda when it comes to understanding personal potential and what drives high-performing teams. The corporate world wants to know its leaders can express their emotions appropriately and build trust quickly with the people around them.

New business owners also know that establishing relationships with their future clients and new teams requires upfront confidence and optimism. The ambitious people out there know that, to progress up the ranks, an ability to build a respected brand requires developed collaboration skills and intuition.

If any part of you is thinking this discussion is about ‘soft skills’ that are not as valued as the more measurable process and results driven attributes of some leaders then read on. If your current role or the team you are leading needs to demonstrate the following skills for success, then investing in building EQ bench strength is possibly the most important investment you will make.

So, what does a highly emotionally intelligent person look like? They have an ability to:

  • Influence others;
  • Negotiate for results;
  • Navigate challenging and valued relationships;
  • Engage in healthy and robust conversations;
  • Create trust and rapport quickly;
  • Make decisions in consideration of others;
  • Deliver success and results through people;
  • Problem-solve in a respectful manner;
  • Be a team member who truly adds value;
  • Resolve conflict;
  • Innovate through collaboration;
  • Manage personal emotions effectively; and
  • Manage the emotions of others effectively.

Strong EQ is not just a ‘nice’ attribute to have, it’s the greatest superpower you can build in your organisation. If you truly want to drive performance, implement the following strategies for results.

  • Role model why self-awareness matters. Lead the way by understanding what your people are saying, but more importantly what they are feeling.
  • Understand the EQ strengths and weaknesses of your team. Do an audit of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the relationships and communication styles in your team.
  • Build a culture that values emotionally intelligent behaviours. Make these skills part of how you review success and reward those who are doing it well.
  • Encourage team members to know each other. The quality and depth of relationships will be reflected in trust across your team.
  • Ask questions and know how to listen. Be both present with and curious about the people around you.

Now, just for a moment, consider the importance of ‘brand’ in the fast-paced world we live and work in. If your team wants to be known as achieving high performance through collaboration, then read points one through five again and implement those strategies at your earliest convenience!

I am truly certain that when teams and organisations make effective EQ a non-negotiable, passion and authenticity shows itself and the results come — high-calibre leaders are attracted to the business and the company benefits from an increase in the retention of its best people.

NOW READ: Why Aldi Australia executive Joanne Brown strives to develop emotional intelligence in her team of 500 workers

NOW READ: Emotional intelligence is a huge part of leadership, but how should we measure it?

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Lisa Stephenson

Lisa Stephenson is the author of Read Me First and the founder of the global, Australian-based consulting firm Who Am I Projects. She has decades of experience as a global speaker, leadership consultant and success coach.

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