Emotional intelligence

What is emotional intelligence and why do we need it?

Emotional Intelligence gives us awareness of ourselves and others so we can manage our emotions and engage people. As leaders, influencers, communicators and change agents we need this critical skill to guide us to make decisions in fast-changing and diverse environments.

Here are some insights from the white paper on Emotional Intelligence at Work  I wrote with Sue Langley, of the Langley Group.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Emotional Intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions. Emotional Intelligence underpins our capacity to work well with others, manage stress and make effective decisions. These abilities can be measured and learned.

Modern neuroscience has turned around the way we think about emotions. We now know that emotions play a critical role in influencing and guiding our thinking and behaviour—what we think, how we think, how we make decisions and how we act on them.

We cannot check our emotions at the door because emotion and thought are linked–they cannot, and should not, be separated. (Caruso)

When our pre-frontal (thinking) cortex and limbic (emotional) system are not communicating effectively, we may behave emotionally rather than intelligently, or make logical assessments without considering the emotional implications of our behaviour. Emotional intelligence is about harnessing these two aspects to ensure we are managing our own emotions rather than allowing our emotions to manage us. Learning how to use emotions intelligently empowers us to respond effectively, rather than reactively. By increasing our range of emotional intelligence strategies we can achieve more positive outcomes for ourselves and the people around us.

How do people with emotional intelligence navigate?

People with high EI (or EQ), natural or learned, are described as aware, authentic, empathic, expansive, resilient, empowering and centred rather than disconnected, guarded, insensitive, limited, temperamental, indifferent and reactive.

Emotions can lead to our worst decisions or our best ones. The difference is emotional intelligence. (Freedman 2010)

With insight into themselves and others, they recognise the emotions that drive thinking and behaviour, and use that understanding to generate positive outcomes and mood. Attuned to emotions that can disrupt engagement and productivity, they are able to convert fears and concerns into opportunity and frame challenges constructively.

In practice, people with emotional intelligence skills are more able to accurately assess situations, determine appropriate responses and keep things in perspective. By better understanding and meeting human needs, they build relationships that inspire productivity and commitment.

Learn more about how emotional intelligence impacts business performance in the white paper.