I have been fascinated with the concept of emotional intelligence since childhood. I would observe the impact certain people would have on others—their mood, their efforts in what they did whether it was doing a daily chore at home or a job-related task. My mother, Velma de Callier, was a regional sales trainer for a direct sales company in the 1950’s. As a young boy she would take me to some of her training sessions when my older brother or sister couldn’t baby-sit me. My mom had a very well-developed “sense of others” in that she knew how to relate to people, how to make them feel good about themselves, and how to get them to give 110% effort, as she used to call it, in what she asked them to do.
I would watch in fascination as she greeted people as they came to the meetings with a warm hello, asking them about their families, remembering the names of their children, wives or husbands—really setting them at ease. Her sales territory was always the top performing one in the country and I remember a big dinner that her company gave for her at which they presented her with a big trophy for her accomplishments. I was so proud of her.
It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started to put the pieces of this fascinating puzzle—relating to others—together. We have all heard the term “Emotional Intelligence” used in various ways. Generally it is used in a context that leads one to believe that it has something to do with the “soft and fuzzy” side of life that has little bearing on the hard, cold world of business and career development. What would you say if I told you that emotional intelligence was far more important than your IQ and was, in fact, the most important indicator of human success as stated by former New York Times science writer and Science Page Editor, Daniel Goleman, in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Recently I had a discussion about emotional intelligence with someone I regard as one of Central Europe’s top human resource professionals.
She told me that an increasing number of hiring and promotional decisions are being based on the level of emotional intelligence a candidate possesses. Why? “Because it’s the ‘how’ something is done that creates sustainable outcomes“ Focusing only on the ‘what’ that is done generally produces a more short-term outcome that may have lasting negative effects on the very people you depend on to implement your ideas, which in turn begins to erode performance.”
The concept of emotional intelligence began to take shape in 1920. ColumbiaUniversityprofessor and educational psychologist, E.L. Thorndike, began using the term “social intelligence” to describe the skill of getting along with people. Daniel Goleman, though, is the person who really defined emotional intelligence as the following five emotional competencies:
- The ability to identify and name one's emotional states and to understand the link between emotions, thought and action.
- The capacity to manage one's emotional states — to control emotions or to shift undesirable emotional states to more adequate ones.
- The ability to enter into emotional states (at will) associated with a drive to achieve and be successful.
- The capacity to read, be sensitive to, and influence other people's emotions.
- The ability to enter and sustain satisfactory interpersonal relationships
Over the years I have seen many people who were regarded as very bright and knowledgeable professionals unknowingly sabotage their careers by their lack of understanding about emotional intelligence. This may show up when someone’s brilliant work fails repeatedly as soon as cooperation from others is required, or when relationships within a person’s circle of interaction begin to show signs of weakening, avoidance or alienation. This behavior then becomes a serious limitation not only to one’s advancement, but to one’s ability to maintain a career.
Now, here’s the good news. Unlike your IQ, which many experts believe is fixed more or less and will remain relatively stable throughout one’s life, your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) can be increased, and fairly easily according to some past research. What is needed is your acknowledgement of the need, the desire to increase your EQ, and access to resources such as a mentor, a career coach, or a supportive boss or human resources professional to help guide and focus your efforts and growth. There are also many publications in print on this topic that can provide an excellent foundation if these other resources are not readily available.
Good luck on your way up!
About the Author: Pepper de Callier is one of the most respected senior executive coaches and authorities on leadership in Europe. Learn more about him at www.pragueleadershipinstitute.com
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