Emotional Intelligence is the hidden advantage for many professionals who face the daily barrage of stress and pressure, yet still perseveres to overcome massive challenges that lift them and their teams to new levels of productivity.  This is crucial for leaders as the Institute for the Future found in their most recent 30-year scenario that the number one skill for leaders in future, will be the skill/ability to stay healthy, as our way of life and our way of work takes its toll.

How is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) such a differentiator? Well it is very simple actually, research has documented consistently for the last 15 years that EQ assists professionals with the following aspects:

  • Self – awareness – truthful honest knowledge and understanding of who you are and the ability to acknowledge it.
  • Social skills – how to deal effectively with various types of personality as well as different generations and cultures.
  • Stress Management – understanding how to survive in a world that is always on, which includes escaping from all the digital screens that dominate your day.
  • Optimism – living with hope in a world where the picture of the future seems to be very bleak at times.
  • Problem Solving – leaders always comment that at least 70% of their jobs is finding solutions to problems that arise while executing strategy.
  • Summarising reality accurately – understanding what is actually important so that priorities can be identified, because if everything is important, nothing is!

 Research is quite clear that we need to invest in a new intelligence as leaders.


 Investing in a New Intelligence

Human beings have always believed that cognitive intelligence (IQ) is the key to success.  In the 1940’s David Weshler realised after extensive research that there are certain non-intellectual abilities, that actually cause individuals to succeed.  How did he realise this?  He studied people with a fairly average cognitive intelligence that performed much better than those with a fairly high cognitive intelligence, and during the late 1980’s psychologists started talking about these abilities as emotional competence.  Psychologists Salovey and Mayer did an extensive study on social intelligence and emotional competence and in 1990 coined the term “Emotional Intelligence”


Why attention to Emotions?

Emotion is taken the Latin word meaning: “energy in motion.”  Emotions have the ability to fuel our energy or drain our energy.  So, it is safe to say that emotions could move us in a positive way, or in a negative way.   How to manage our emotions then contributes to how we manage our energy.  Emotional intelligence should not be seen as a fuzzy soft topic, but rather a pretty useful topic.


 Knowing is not enough

In our travels between various companies, presenting workshops and coaching in the field of leadership development and personal growth, we find many people who know of Emotional Intelligence.  They know all the terms and they know of all the advantages.  Most reading managers have read Goleman’s book.  Some managers have done workshops.  We believe that there is no need for more knowledge on Emotional Intelligence, but what is clear is that few people actually understand how to develop their Emotional Intelligence.  We find that even less people understand how to apply their Emotional Intelligence in their daily toils at work.  This is why we believe if we talk about Emotional Intelligence we need to talk about “cultivating” Emotional Intelligence.  This refers to an ongoing process that leads to the development of an Emotional Intelligence that leads to success.

Latest research by the Consortium for the Emotional Intelligence shows that your success in life is two thirds dependent on your Emotional Intelligence, rather than your cognitive intelligence (IQ).  The good news is that you can grow and purposefully develop our Emotional Intelligence.  Even though the evidence through research is overwhelming, we find that few people are prepared to invest in themselves and their employees by developing their Emotional Intelligence.  We also find that the Baby Boomers and Silent Generation/Radio Babies are the generations not very open to the development of their Emotional Intelligence.  While this is a gross generalisation, it is our experience in the corporate world.


 What to do?

So, you want to be successful and develop your Emotional Intelligence?  How do you go about developing your personal EQ?

First, we believe you need to read about Emotional Intelligence.  Get to know the core of what it is all about.  There are various internet site’s dedicated to the subject. You may want to download an app that may assist you with awareness exercises regarding your Emotional Intelligence.

Second, you need to find out what your Emotional Intelligence is.  Developing a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses regarding Emotional Intelligence helps with the self-awareness that you need to develop your Emotional Intelligence. There are various measurements available out there, but we would recommend the Bar On Emotional Inventory.  It is very comprehensive and easy to understand.  Once again this can be done online or your HR department who have companies who provide them with this analysis.  The key here is to find out what your emotional vulnerabilities are.  Once you know what they are you can do something about it.

Third, attend an Emotional Intelligence workshop.  This is a place where you can learn and ask questions and also receive honest feedback.  Adults bring accumulated life experience to the table and that is why we encourage adults to learn from other and to share with each other in our workshops.  We are always astounded with the practical intelligence people possess. Many leaders and managers believe they do not have the time available to attend a two or three day workshop, but this investment will reap many hours and days, as you learn to deal effectively with topics such as: managing dependent employees, managing your fears, conducting difficult conversations, growing in assertiveness, developing your own and team confidence levels, managing impulsive decision making, creating meaning for employees, building an optimistic vision and building great relationships with fellow employees, teams and customers.

Fourth, invest in your people/relations skills.  Recent research completed by the Centre of Creative Leadership, studied 438 000 managers in 7 500 companies which included most of the Fortune 500 companies.  They asked these managers what were the top 3 aspects that contributed to their success.  71% of them mentioned it was their ability to build and maintain effective relationships over prolonged periods of time.  We should never underestimate the importance of networking and the skills to build effective relationships.  This is a big part of Emotional Intelligence.

Lastly, realise that you can’t do this by yourself.  It would be wise to find a coach, counsellor or a mentor who could guide you through your growth.  It always helps to have an objective individual who is prepared to be truthful.  This person could help you develop your emotional vulnerability, giving you exercises and tools to grow.  As more research regarding coaching has been published, what is most informative is that coaching does not teach us much, but it is engaging in a process of self-learning where I am guided by the questions of an objective individual who listens, questions and gives honest feedback.

As a business professional a key to your success in your career, but also to your survival in terms of your well-being will be to invest in your Emotional Intelligence.


Author & Contributor: Hermann Du Plessis – Founder & Director at Themba Thandeka Leadership Institute – LinkedIn Bio: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hermann-du-plessis-01b17618/

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