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What Is Emotional Intelligence?

14 Mar, 2015 | Character, Management, Self Growth

A few weeks ago I tweeted the following:

“Over time it is becoming clear to me that the most important trait of good leader is emotional intelligence”

This was an observation I had made after time at work, interactions with new people and observations from a variety of situations. What I was trying to say is that skills such as empathy, understanding your own feelings and being aware of others are really important when it comes to leadership. To be honest, I think most of the time I was observing a lack of EQ and witnessing the effect it had. Sometimes the best heuristic for learning the value of a skill is witnessing the effect when it is absent.

In thinking about EQ further I began to see that I needed a better understanding of what Emotional Intelligence really is. Whilst I labeled those skills under the term, I hadn’t taken the time to really understand the definition EI and what it entails.

As a first step to correct this I read Daniel Goleman’s HBR article What Makes a Leader. He lists the following skills as key facets of EQ:

  • Self awareness
  • Self regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skill

I was glad to see that some of the qualities I thought to represent EQ where included such as empathy and self awareness. The article is a great introduction to EQ and why it is important - I thoroughly recommend reading it.

I continue to believe EQ is one of the most important traits in the modern world. As Goleman states in his article:

“Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also know a story about someone with solid—but not extraordinary—intellectual abilities and technical skills who was promoted into a similar position and then soared.”

In my brief time in the workplace, I’ve already found this to be true. Given this, I’m intrigued to understand EQ better and learn how to cultivate it. I’m buying Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence - Why It Can Matter More Than IQ as a first step to doing so. I believe it is a skill worth honing as it serves an individual in both their work and personal life. Once I know more, I’m excited to see if my views on the importance of EQ change. I’ll share my thoughts as they change I am sure.