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Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the workplace has become a critical component that determines levels of success. Intelligence and experience are regarded as baseline competencies that are necessary to get the job in the first place, but after that it is how you apply your EI to your work that leads to work success. What’s more, the higher you climb up the corporate ladder and become a leader, the more important EI becomes. On the lower rungs of the ladder your technical competencies are critical, but as you move upwards, your emotional competency will separate a mediocre leader from an inspiring, exceptional performing one.

But what is EI? Intelligence is something you are born with, like your IQ level and there is very little you can do to change it. There are eight different intelligences varying from musical, linguistic, mathematical, special, kinaesthetic, etc. Emotions are our body’s communication feedback mode that tell us how we feel about certain events and experiences. Simply put, we could say that it’s our heart. The two words together “Emotional Intelligence” are confusing as on the one hand our intelligence is fixed but our emotions are fluid. Strictly speaking EI is a fake intelligence, because it can be acquired and developed. In the 70’s and 80’s EI was career limiting. However, in the current work climate companies are leaning towards flatter hierarchical structures and focusing their energy on team-collaboration. This paradigm shift has resulted in EI taking on a new role in the workplace.

Five elements make up EI which can all be learnt:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Motivation
  3. Self-regulation – Meeting impulses and managing oneself in upset or stressed moments
  4. Empathy
  5. Relationship adeptness

As we can see from the five (EI) elements all of them are vital to being an effective leader. Being able to see the BIG picture is the only additional non-EI skill that leaders must possess. In the study conducted by Hunt, Schmidt and Judiesch it was determined that our emotional competency contributes two thirds to our performance. The remaining one third is our experiences and technical competency. This means that emotional competency is an economic asset that we can grow and develop to enable our peak performance and work success.

If we look at the research conducted on three different levels of jobs, we can see the phenomenal economic impact leverage (i.e. High EI) has on top performers compared to average ones. This shows that the value increases with the complexity of the job.

  1. Low complexity jobs such as those performed by clerks or operators produced three times more output;
  2. Medium complexity jobs, like mechanics or sales reps’ managers produced twelve times more; and
  3. Complex jobs such as lawyers, accountants, engineers or physicians measured a staggering 127 higher output.

If you want to advance in your career, growing and developing your EI becomes paramount.

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