Talking about emotions has long been a taboo topic in the workplace. However, when we study the greatest leaders, they all tend to share a rare and exciting skill: high emotional intelligence. How can an individual inspire others? With emotional intelligence! And yet, is it possible to improve this soft skill?
Where does emotional intelligence come from?
In 1996, journalist Daniel Goleman drew inspiration from their research in a book now considered to be the founding text of the popular adoption of emotional intelligence: “Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ”. That book topped the bestseller lists for months.
But why is emotional intelligence so important today?
Far more than just a buzz word or fleeting fad, emotional intelligence has become a permanent fixture of the professional landscape. It is useful to businesses in general, but also to employees specifically as they go about their day-to-day work. Emotional intelligence makes organisations and the people who work for them better.
In a world undergoing profound technological and organisational transformations, it contributes to value creation, puts human qualities front and centre and helps to influence corporate culture by working on the personal qualities of employees and managers.
At the individual level, it also plays a crucial role in the development of leadership. This is probably the most immediate and most important impact of emotional intelligence – when it is correctly passed on, taught, nurtured and shared.
Emotional intelligence: the latest holy grail for managers
Recruiting new managers based on their experience, university degrees and professional accomplishments is relatively straightforward. That’s the way all businesses have recruited new people for decades now.
But when it comes to deciding whether that person has the right qualities to fit into your team, communicate effectively, convey the right message, listen with intelligence and patience, understand and anticipate the emotional needs of others – well that’s a much more arduous task.
Understandably so, since “emotional intelligence” is not a line that often features in CVs.
Furthermore, even though it is increasingly regarded as a key priority within HR departments, the impact, necessity and management of emotional intelligence are not always clearly appreciated.
Emotional intelligence is a soft skill.
As opposed to hard skills (know-how), soft skills are personal qualities connected with attitude and approach. They include reliability, adaptability, the ability to resolve conflicts, flexibility, creativity, ethics, the capacity to find solutions to complex problems, cultural intelligence etc.
Emotional intelligence is one of the most important soft skills of all, since it has a direct or indirect impact on all the others.
And like hard skills, soft skills can also be learned.
Find out more on how to develop your emotional intelligence in the white paper from ESCP Executive Education available for download below.