In the past, experts believed that the intelligence quotient, or IQ, is the primary driver for success. However, a growing number of experts from different fields, ranging from psychologists to leadership consultants, are challenging that belief and believes it is Emotional Intelligence.
Instead of IQ, this body of experts says that emotional intelligence, or EQ, dictates whether a person would be successful or not.
This is not to say that IQ doesn’t mean anything. People who possess high IQs perform well, especially in the academe. But the main problem with IQ is that often, it is too narrow and excludes other fields of intelligence.
But what exactly does EQ mean, especially in the context of the workplace?
Harvard psychologist and theorist Howard Gardner defines emotional intelligence as “…your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”
EQ has five categories, namely: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Here’s a brief overview of each.
Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions at the moment. It comprises two key elements: emotional awareness and self-confidence.
Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s negative emotions like anger or anxiety.
Motivation is the ability to push yourself to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself while maintaining a positive attitude.
Empathy is the ability to acknowledge the importance of other people in helping you achieve your goals.
Social skills refer to different interpersonal skills that are crucial for furthering one’s career. These include communication, leadership, conflict management, teamwork, and networking.
What’s the difference between IQ and EQ?
In the past, IQ was determined by dividing a person’s mental age over his chronological age. Today, many IQ tests compare a person’s score against the average score of other people within his age group.
IQ encompasses different abilities, including fluid reasoning, quantitative reasoning, working, and short-term memory, and visual and spatial processing.
EQ, on the other hand, encompasses abilities like identifying one’s emotions, recognizing other people’s feelings, controlling one’s emotions, and being able to relate to other people.
Compared to IQ, EQ is a relatively new concept that has recently gained traction among the broader public.
But what’s the reason behind the buzz about EQ?
Before EQ entered the public consciousness, people, including experts, believed that IQ is the key to a person’s success. But later on, critics of IQ theorized that there was more to success than having a high IQ. Other areas of knowledge and abilities need to be considered.
This is particularly true in the workplace, where one needs to take into account a person’s interaction with the people in his environment. This is why people with average IQs can outperform those with above-average IQs.
From a personal standpoint, having high emotional intelligence translates into better physical and mental health. People with high EQ are also remarkable leaders who know how to effectively cultivate and manage relationships as well as bring conflicts to an acceptable resolution.
EQ in the workplace
The workplace is a relational environment. Quite simply, you will encounter people who have different sets of values, skills, personalities, and emotions.
Within the workplace, every interaction, decision, and action has a ripple effect on you and your team. And having high emotional intelligence allows you and your team to tackle challenges more effectively and more fluidly. In contrast, having low emotional intelligence can translate to negative emotions and actions like frustration, lack of motivation, and bullying.
Or to put it succinctly, teams with low EQ tend to be rigid and resistant to change.
Building high EQ teams
Before creating a high EQ team, it is critical for each member to work on their emotional intelligence skills, especially in terms of self and social awareness, emotional management, communication, and conflict resolution.
At the same time, there are a few strategies that you can try to build an emotionally intelligent team.
Find a leader
A good leader is a vital piece of every emotionally intelligent. Such a person possesses a few key traits.
For starters, they are respectful and treat every team member with utmost courtesy. Second, these people readily embrace change, knowing that it paves the way for growth. They also know how to solicit feedback from each member of the team and acknowledge their own mistakes. And finally, and probably most important of all, they are ready to extend a helping hand to anyone in need.
Exceptional leadership skills rarely come naturally to people. However, there are programs focused on leadership training in the UAE (or wherever you may be) that people with potential can attend.
Know each member’s strengths and weaknesses
Every member of your team brings unique things to the table, and if you want to draw out the best from each one, you should take the time to know them individually.
Look beyond each team member’s job title and provide them with opportunities for creativity and innovation. And on the converse side of the coin, provide objective feedback when mistakes are made.
Even if you have highly emotionally intelligent members in your time, their energies will sag from time to time. There are a few things that you can do to spark their passion and bring their energy levels up.
These include recognizing good work done, creating an engaging work environment, and setting a company mission that everyone can get behind.
Stress does not only undermine your team members’ health and wellbeing. It can drastically affect the team’s overall performance. This is why it is critical for organizations to find ways to manage stress effectively.
Among the strategies that you can use include setting (and sticking) to established schedules, allowing team members to take breaks, discouraging multitasking, and just being empathic.
Develop communication skills
Strong communication skills create synergy and help teams run more efficiently. Apart from investing in training for the development of effective communication skills, you should encourage every team member to speak positively and constructively.
EQ can be learned
Unfortunately, there is no definitive test that will help companies find out if a candidate has high emotional intelligence. Although there are a few tests that can give hiring professionals some insights on the EQ of a job applicant, much needs to be demonstrated.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, EQ is not set in stone. It can be developed to a high level, although it would require time and patience. Even more encouraging is the fact that you can gradually build a team that has high emotional intelligence.