Learn Emotional Intelligence, the Key Determiner of Success

– Since I started writing about and researching emotional intelligence in business, I found that data and support of it has only gotten stronger. I saw recently a study, this surprised me, engineers software coders and so on were asked, were evaluated by their peers, people who work with them day in today, on how successful they were at what they do. This turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of success in any field, and that what’s correlated with their IQ on one hand and their emotional intelligence on the other.

IQ correlated zero, zero with their success as graded by peers. Emotional intelligence correlated very, very highly. Well, why would that be? Well, consider this, in order to be an engineer, you have to have an IQ about a standard deviation or more above average. That’s an IQ of 115 or so. And another recent paper shows that there’s no relationship between career success and an IQ above 120. The reason is this, there is a strong floor effect for IQ in any role.

All engineers have an IQ of 115 or more. So the range of variants if very reduced for IQ and success. Emotional intelligence, however, varies radically. So emotional intelligence means how well you manage yourself. Can you work toward your goals despite the obstacles, do you give up to soon, you have a negative outlook or a positive outlook? These are all emotional intelligence competencies that matter for success. Then there’s the relationship competencies, can you tune in to other people, do you know these other people? I remember hearing about two MIT grads who went into a giant tech company.

One of them went around to other members of their team and asked, what are you doing, how can I help? The other stayed in his office and wrote code all day, and it’s very clear who was going to get ahead. It was the one who wanted to be a team player. You don’t write code in isolation anymore. Everyone works on projects together. You may write the code, but you have coordinate, you have to influence, you have to persuade, you have to be a good team member. All of those are emotional intelligence competencies that distinguish outstanding from average performers.

So when you think about it that way, it makes sense that even among engineers emotional intelligence will predict who is a star and who’s just mediocre. What’s even more important, is that the higher you go in the ladder, the more emotion intelligence matters. When I started out, I did an HBO article, what makes a leader on the importance of emotion intelligence for leadership.

That article became the most requested reprint. There was huge interest in how emotion intelligence matters for leadership in business. My thinking has evolved. I used to have five components of emotion intelligence, now I see four. So the four parts of emotional intelligence as it relates to business or anywhere in life are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, you could call it empathy, or relationship management. Those are the four.

An emotionally intelligent leader, think about it, would be self-aware, they’d know what their inner state is, that would help them manage that state well. Second part is self-management, they would tune in to other people, they wouldn’t be solipsistic and just reacting from their own emotional state. They’d think about how their decisions affect other people, that’s the social awareness or empathy part of emotion intelligence. And their relationships would be well managed. So if you see a leader who has all of those, self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and good relationships, you’re going to see someone who’s highly effective.

If you see someone who has a deficit in one or more of those areas, you’re going to see a leader who is highly ineffective. Within each of those domains I see specific learned and learnable competencies that are hallmarks of the most outstanding leaders. And this research was based on studies done in companies themselves of their star performers versus average performers.

Where they did a systematic analysis of what abilities or competencies do you see in the stars that you don’t see in the average. So one of these competencies might be how you manage under stress, what you do when you get upset. In fact, in self-management, we call it emotional self control. It’s a critical competence for a leader because for example, when there’s a crisis, everyone looks at the leader to see should I be upset about it or not, and if the leader’s very calm, then people calm down.

And also, if you’re calm, you can be clear, you can make better decisions. And when you think about this at the organizational level, it means you want to be sure to include emotional intelligence when you consider hiring people. I have a friend at an executive recruiting company specializes in C level hires. CEOs, CFOs, and so on. And they once did a study internally of people they had recommended who turned out to be bad and we’re so bad they were fired.

So these were failures, they were surprised to have failures, but they realized when they looked more carefully, that these were people who were hired because of business expertise and IQ, and fired because of a deficiency in emotional intelligence. So it’s more important than ever these days. And so when hiring needs to be considered, in promoting people of course it needs to considered. And it should be part of HR, it should be part of what you help people develop further strengths in because the good news about emotional intelligence is it’s learned and learnable.

And you can upgrade it at any point in life if you’re motivated. (pensive music)

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