Why emotional intelligence is crucial for career success
Conventional intelligence, scored as intelligence quotient (IQ), is indicative of cognitive reasoning ability. The countless tests and exams we take through school and college are supposed to give a measure of how smart we are. And while they do this to a certain extent, high academic grades are not the sole measure of success.
Of course, a correlation between academic prowess and career success can easily be established in fields of work that require rational thinking; successful doctors, engineers, and scientists typically do have high IQs. But a high IQ alone is no guarantee of success in a career that involves interacting with others, which is the case for nearly every profession in existence.
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Emotional intelligence, scored as emotional quotient (EQ), is touted to be a more accurate indicator of whether a person will go on to be a successful working professional. Here we look at why this is the case.
As mentioned earlier, nearly every profession involves human interaction. Of course, a few exceptions can be made: authors and scientists who work in solitude are freed from the need to master the art of interaction. But, for most of us, interacting with others is a daily ritual. Therein lies the importance of emotional intelligence (EI).
EI is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Daniel Goleman, a renowned psychologist and the author of several books on EI, explains the five pillars of emotional intelligence and why they correspond to a successful career:
A self-aware person is in control of his or her emotions. Such people can identify shifts in emotion within themselves as well as the triggers, both internal and external, that cause them; criticism from a boss or a personal problem can induce varying emotions which affect our reasoning ability. Persons with high EQs can view such occurrences from a rational standpoint, un-distorted by emotional turmoil, which results in an improved reasoning ability.
Keeping one's emotions in check is vital at a workplace. Every person has to deal with a multitude of emotions on a regular basis and it's essential that they do not dictate your behaviour. The ability to act logically, while resisting impulsive behaviour, is a highly-valued trait for working professionals.
People with a high EQ are self-motivated. They aren't driven by money or job titles though; they weigh the emotional rewards of each action and are fuelled by an inner ambition that is surprisingly resilient to disappointment and failure. Employers have always faced the challenge of motivating their employees and hence, those who don't need to be motivated are highly valuable in the workplace.
Emotionally intelligent people are not only aware of their emotions, but they can sense those of others as well. They have an uncanny ability to view situations from the other person's perspective. Arguments fuelled by anger are easily resolved by people with high EQs because they understand the other person's issue and can genuinely respond to their concerns.
Due to their mastery of emotions, emotionally intelligent people get along well with others. They find it easier to build rapport and trust with their colleagues. They also steer clear of office politics — things like backstabbing, bad-mouthing, and undermining others — for which they are quick to gain respect and credibility.
In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman demarcates the difference between IQ and EQ in the context of career success:
“IQ can show whether you have the cognitive capacity to handle the information and complexities you face in a particular field. But once you are in that field, emotional intelligence emerges as a much stronger predictor of who will be most successful, because it is how we handle ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once we are in a given job.”
His reasoning is certainly accurate; scholastic test scores can only get you into a company, but they cease to matter once you begin working there. Traits like being a team-player and a motivated worker are far more important if you want to succeed in a career. Employers won't hesitate to remove an egocentric and conceited intelligent person from their company. On the other hand, a person who can get along well with everyone is always welcomed in an office.