Living today requires a whole new skill set. It was once enough to have a college degree and show up for work, do your job, maybe do a little extra and success was achieved. Not anymore. There are so many college degrees floating around that they are no longer a ticket to a paycheck. The saying “It’s not who you know–but who knows you” still applies to some degree, though once the job is secured–performance must follow.
In today’s workplace there is increasing diversity, rapid change and constant innovation. Having a high IQ or intelligence is not enough to be successful. If anything, an extremely high IQ can interfere with the ability to succeed if there is an inability to relate effectively to others. Some studies show only 20% of Valedictorians are successful. Conversely, we all know examples of people who never finished college and are multi- millionaires. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Brian Williams are examples of people who have achieved success without earning a college degree and have done quite well for themselves.
So what is needed to be successful in today’s world, not just in the business world, but also in life? It’s not your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)–it’s your Emotional Quotient (EQ). People may have extra-ordinary intelligence but severely lack common sense or interpersonal skills.
What is emotional intelligence (EI)? EI has to do with the ability to navigate the world. EI is the ability to access, manage and make use of feelings. IQ, academic ability and achievement may land the job–EQ gets the promotion.
The primary component of EQ deals with self-awareness, that is, knowing and being responsible for yourself. Enhanced self- awareness leads to self-responsibility and exceptional relational skills are the result. The bottom line in business reflects how you manage your emotions and interact with people, i.e. your social skills, self-management, flexibility and the ability to deal with change.
In The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace (2001), edited by Daniel Goleman and Cary Cherniss, the emotional competencies that differentiate superior from average performers are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Examples of EQ
After the WTC Bombing a reporter asked New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, how many people had died in the collapse. He responded, “We don’t know the exact number yet, but whatever the number, it will be more than we can bear.”
In that statement, he performed a masterful act of leadership. He spoke with conviction, from the depths of his heart and in a way that resonated with our own unspoken feelings.
Great leaders move us deeply. They inspire us by connecting with our feelings. What makes a leader shine is quite similar to whether they head a major company, chair a nonprofit Board or run their own household.
How to recognize EQ in the workplace
It is easy to identify workplaces where emotional intelligence is valued and demonstrated. Morale and productivity are equally high. Communication is clear and open at all levels within the organization. The energy level is vibrant; creativity and innovation is encouraged and supported. The mission statement is not just a plaque on the wall–employees live the mission statement in word and deed. There is a passion for excellence that is shared by all. Collaboration is combined with unique individual expression. Competition is not to ‘beat someone’ but for the team to win.
How to create an EI workplace
To create a ‘smart workplace’ high in EQ, management commits to establishing an environment that is collaborative, creative and values-based. For this to work effectively, leaders model the roles and values they espouse and wish others to emulate. People model what they see much more than what they are told. If the leaders are working smart and with heart, which is what emotional intelligence does, they are more likely to elicit that response in others.
An emotionally intelligent workplace is created when individual strengths are acknowledged and affirmed. The result is high motivation that is reflected in peak performance. It is important to seek employee input, ask their opinion, lead by walking around. Interface with employees in ways that value their contribution rather than threaten their sense of security. Create a workplace that embraces change and sees it as a natural step in the move toward success.
Benefits of EQ
Employers who manage their own emotions by relating successfully to their employees will naturally create a workplace where people want to show up every day. The right employees will be hired and promoted and turnover will be low. Stress levels will lower and communication will flow easily and freely throughout the organization. Since creativity is encouraged and supported, innovation and flexibility will be a hallmark of this organization. Change is welcomed and embraced. All of these benefits result in a more productive and profitable workplace.