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Emotional Intelligence – Isn’t that Jumbo Shrimp?

Emotional Intelligence Graphic

by Doug Boebinger, MS, PMP®

The last rant (It’s Basic Cause and Effect) had too much math, soooo…

Emotional what?

There was an old belief that a person’s technical knowledge and intellectual capabilities were enough to make them successful. But a third variable is now in the equation (oops, starting to do that math thing again). The third leg of the Success Stool (If I can’t do an equation, then I’m going with the three-legged stool) is Emotional Intelligence.

Have some spare time? From your smart phone, tablet, or computer you can take this self-assessment test on Psychology Today.

Let me be clear; the ability of a person to be successful is still dependent on technical skills and intellectual capabilities. Technical skills include technical expertise; that is, accountancy skills. Intellectual capability is commonly known as IQ, and refers to one’s cognitive abilities. The third factor is emotional capability, which is often referred to as emotional intelligence or EI.

Technical skills can be acquired, so employers tend not to be too concerned about this aspect. As long as the person has the ability to learn, technical skills can be taught.

It is generally considered that a person’s IQ will change little after adolescence. Once you rise to a certain level within an organization, you are probably dealing with people who are at the top 10 percent or so of intelligence. Therefore, IQ offers relatively little competitive advantage.

EI DiagramEI, on the other hand, can be learned at any age. It takes perseverance in the process of critical self-evaluation, commitment to improvement, and, of course, behavioral practice. EI does not necessarily increase with age, as you might expect. Some people may learn from life’s experiences, but many do not.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, comprehend, and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. EI is typically divided into four areas:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management (people skills)

Daniel Goleman, who is a leader in the EI field, has determined that successful people possess a high level of emotional intelligence. As a result, they achieve higher financial goals, develop more effective and efficient organizational environments, and achieve higher productivity gains with their workforce. Mr. Goleman states that EI contributes 80 to 90 percent of the competencies that distinguish outstanding leaders from average leaders.

The behaviors identified include:

  • The ability to recognize and understand their own moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others.
  • The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and to think before acting.
  • The passion to work for reasons beyond money or status and the propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.
  • The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people; the skill of treating people according to their emotional reactions; proficiency in managing relationships and building networks; and the ability to find common ground and build rapport.

So, bottom line, if you want to advance your position in life, your IQ is set (blame your parents) and you can’t just focus on technical training (obviously it is good to have more and better technical knowledge than the next person). But don’t forget to focus on your EI. It can be learned at any age. (There goes my excuse).

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