The Importance of EQ in Lifelong Success

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been a ‘known fact’ for decades. In fact, our perception of its importance predates the coining of the phrase in the 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch. It has had different names – from ‘social intelligence’ to ‘emotional strength’ – but its importance has always been undeniable. In fact, some research states that Emotional Intelligence is responsible for 58% of your job performance and that 90% of top performers have a high EQ.

So, what is it? And why is Emotional Intelligence important in the workplace?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence isn’t quite as quantifiable as its pal Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Therein lies the first problem – it can’t be supported with data in quite the same way as IQ. As a result, from school onwards and into our workplaces, IQ has traditionally been easier to measure and therefore carried more weight.

EQ can be thought of as an individual’s abilities to be:

  • Self-Aware: encompassing our own knowledge of ourselves, and being able to both recognise and understand ourselves, our behaviours, and our emotions.
  • Self-Manage and Self-Regulate: encompassing our ability to be in control of our emotions, and therefore our responses.
  • Self-Motivated: encompassing our internal resources to be driven, perform, act, and reach towards goals.
  • Empathic: encompassing our ability to understand and ‘feel for’ others, understand their emotion, and therefore relate to them more effectively.
  • Relational: encompassing our ability to build and maintain relationships, network, lead, manage conflict and work with others.

Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?

EQ isn’t the enemy of IQ. It’s possible to have high levels of both. However, life is an inherently sociable construct. Without the ability to function well within this relational environment, it’s doubtful how far intelligence alone will get you. As Theodore Roosevelt said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” EQ is, in many ways, the essence of being human.

Emotional Intelligence, and our ability to draw on it as a reserve helps us in so many ways: from assisting in looking after our physical and mental health and well-being, through to our ability to inspire and lead. It’s there in our ability to manage effective relationships and our armour and shield when it comes to conflict resolution. It is, in so many ways, the driver of success.

EQ as a driver of success doesn’t just apply to our personal lives. It applies in the workplace also. People with average IQ’s outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Is EQ the reason? Whilst EQ and IQ aren’t enemies, it is possible to have high levels of both, is EQ a better indicator of success?

Given that according to the Center for Creative Leadership, 75% of careers are “derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including the inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust”, perhaps it is.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important in the Workplace?

Your work life and career can be hugely affected by your EQ. Workplaces, in the main, are relational environments. They are typically a melting pot of different personalities, skills, strengths, and emotions. In amongst this is the purpose of the business.

Therefore, EQ is intricately melded into each and every decision and action within the workplace. It’s there in the basic instruction to your team, just as much as it’s present in mass organisational change. Therefore, those with higher EQ typically successfully navigate the workplace more effectively. EQ enables an individual to build and drive successful teams and to be agile and responsive as needed. They, therefore, are successful.

Similarly, a lower level of EQ can be detrimental to the workplace. At its worst, it can be seen in bullying, harassment, and demotivated staff. It can present as insensitivity, arrogance, or even aggression and volatility. Whereas a high EQ will facilitate flexibility, low EQ will typically present as inflexibility and rigidity – a dangerous tack for any business.

For more information about the importance of EQ in your child’s development, contact Anel Annandale at 083 711 5267 or via email at  anel@childpsych.co.za.

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