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What is Emotional Intelligence and how is it related to the workplace?

Posted by: Sam Wheeler

Before 1995 the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was considered the sole source of success. However, in 1995 Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman published a pioneering book called “Emotional Intelligence”.

What is emotional intelligence and why is it so important? In short, emotional intelligence, or EQ, refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Just like IQ, EQ is a measurable component of who we are and it affects how we manage our behaviour, deal with social complexities and make personal decisions.
Emotional intelligence is made up of two primary competencies, the first is personal competence and the second is social competence.

(Source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0)

Personal competence focuses on self-management skills and is the ability to stay aware of emotions and manage behaviour and tendencies.
Social competence focuses on social and relational skills and is the ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviour and motives in order to improve the quality of relationships.

IQ vs EQ

There is no known connection between IQ and EQ. Intelligence is based on your ability to learn and it will stay the same for a person when they are 15 as it is for them at the age of 50. Emotional Intelligence on the other hand, is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. By repeatedly using strategies and exercises to improve the emotional connections in the brain, anyone can increase their own emotional intelligence. Once trained in these new emotional intelligence strategies, emotionally intelligent behaviours then become habit.


The concept for EQ has been studied for decades but what made Goleman’s work so powerful was its application to the workplace and leadership. Based on his research at nearly 200 large, global organisations Goleman discovered that although the qualities commonly associated with leadership, such as intelligence, decisiveness, determination and vision are necessary for success, they aren’t enough. Highly effective leaders also have a solid degree of emotional intelligence.
Despite the main components of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills sounding like they do not belong to business leaders of the 1990s, Goleman revealed direct ties between a leader’s emotional intelligence and measurable business results.
In 2009 a study by Dr. Travis Bradberry found that 90% of top performers he studied are also high in emotional intelligence; whereas just 20% of low performers are high in emotional intelligence. Concluding that you can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but it is less likely.
Emotional intelligence isn’t important for just senior executives and effective leaders, but is required for success at any level in one’s career.

Do you want to know you level of Emotional Intelligence? TRY GOLEMAN’S EQ TEST HERE:

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