Building Effective Working Relationships: How emotionally intelligent are you?

Lynn Pattison

About the Author Asset 28

Lynn is a Senior Teaching Fellow (Professional Development). She is an experienced tutor and careers coach and is module leader for the Professional Skills and Employability modules within the Marketing division.

According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ) can be key to a leader’s success.

Emotional Intelligence is a performance based theory of competencies, based on the work of Michael Beldoch, Roger Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman. The term gained popularity in 1995 with the publication of Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995). The relevance of Emotional Intelligence to business has continued to be debated but Goleman’s model remains a leading authority on the subject.

Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence as the range of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. “The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”.

Goleman analysed data from research undertaken with executives across 188 global companies. He found that although intellect (IQ) and cognitive skills were key to excellent performance, Emotional Intelligence was linked to measurable business results and was rated as twice as important than IQ and technical ability in driving performance. Goleman’s analysis also highlighted that Emotional Intelligence was important in the highest level roles in the companies surveyed. Emotional Intelligence “distinguishes outstanding leaders and can also be linked to strong performance.”

Goleman’s EQ model identified five characteristics of Emotional Intelligence which are self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills.

SELF-AWARENESS is at the centre of Goleman’s model. Goleman summarises self-awareness as having an understanding of one’s own emotions and their impact on others. It is being able to develop an understanding about one’s strengths and limitations. Self-aware leaders are confident, trust their own intuition, show humility and invite constructive feedback. They recognise how emotions can impact performance at work.
SELF-MANAGEMENT (SELF-REGULATION) is taking responsibility for one’s emotions; the ability to have emotional self-control and remain calm when under pressure. It is essentially thinking before acting. Leaders who can self-manage are accountable; they are able to create an environment of trust and stability. They are adaptable, positive in their outlook and open to new ideas.
EMPATHY is the ability to understand the emotional needs of others and the ability to treat them accordingly. According to Goleman, empathetic leaders are good at managing a team, they support and develop others, offer feedback and listen to colleagues. They are good with people and able to manage cross cultural sensitivities. “Empathy is particularly important today as a component of leadership for at least three reasons: the increasing use of teams; the rapid pace of globalisation; and the growing need to retain talent.
MOTIVATION Self-motivated leaders are driven; goal orientated, set high standards and are loyal to the organisation. “Those with leadership potential are motivated by a deeply embedded desire to achieve for the sake of achievement.” Financial reward or status although important are not high on their agenda.
SOCIAL SKILLS Those with social skills have the ability to manage relationships, have good rapport, can resolve conflicts, be diplomatic and have the ability to build professional networks. It is also about organisational awareness; ie having an understanding of the organisation, the key influencers, networks and internal dynamics.

The theoretical foundation of Emotional Intelligence has been criticised. Hans Eysenck (1998) writes that Goleman’s description of Emotional Intelligence contains unsubstantiated assumptions about intelligence and Edwin Locke (2005) suggests the concept should be referred to as a skill and that it measures personality traits.

Goleman’s model of Emotional Intelligence highlights that the competencies are not considered inherent but can be developed to improve performance. We can all increase our level of Emotional Intelligence. The debate continues as to whether Emotional Intelligence is a skill which can be learned and developed or a personality trait. However, the concept warrants consideration when developing our own approach to leadership and can enhance the workplace and contribute to the development of effective teams and productivity.

Find out more

  • Asset 25 Video: An introduction to Emotional Intelligence
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