Why You Need Emotional Intelligence over IQ to Succeed

5 min read time

Emotional intelligence (EQ) isn't a topic that is discussed because it is opposite of what most senior leaders think about when running their organization. But decades of research have now pointed to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. So you ABSOLUTELY need this - Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.

“Leadership” skills are fairly recognizable, right? People who take initiative, who have a vision, and who can strategize, plan, and accomplish goals to achieve their vision are considered good leaders. They display those skills when working in a team setting and, hopefully, their team members are appreciative of those skills. leadership1

But what about other kinds of skills that make up a good leader? One that aren't easily measured. Think about an amazing leader you’ve had over the years and what made them amazing? What made you want to follow them? 

It's great to have professional skills (you may be highly trained and proficient in your field), but what about skills that contribute to your ability to work well with others and to lead your team to success? 

So when you think about great leaders you've had in the past, you likely felt comfortable going to that person with your questions, concerns, and needs, and they were likely receptive to you and worked to address concerns and make sure that you felt supported. And if (or when) you both had disagreements, they were likely respectful and productive exchanges.

That kind of dynamic between employee and manager is similar to what we encourage couples to create in their own relationships—keeping a positive perspective, validating each other’s positions despite disagreement, and being intentionally respectful, even during difficult times. 

It's not always easy right?! Who has struggled in relationships?! I think we all have.

Let’s be honest: teamwork, especially when attempting to achieve difficult, long-term, and even lofty goals, can lead to intense emotions, such as (if things aren’t going well) frustration, anger, worry, or disappointment, or (if things are going well) excitement, anticipation, enthusiasm, and shared celebration. 

For example, look at the vivid displays of emotion from players on cohesive sports teams. They celebrate each other when things go well. They lift each other up when things don’t. Emotions, even on the field, play a huge role in working with others to succeed.

Yet all of those emotions, even the good ones, can lead to immense stress under challenging circumstances at work. And understanding and managing both your and others’ emotions in that team setting, just like in a relationship, is an important trait of all good leaders.

So let’s take a look at what is needed in the workplace in terms of emotional intelligence:

1. Emotional intelligence is imperative for good leadership

No matter what leaders set out to do—whether it’s creating a strategy or mobilizing teams to action—their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.

Many of us have likely been in this situation before. Think back on, maybe, a job you had  with a manager that had a negative attitude. They might have had excellent skills in their role, but how they did the job and communicated to their employees was a problem. Think about how you and your coworkers may have felt around that manager—undervalued, disrespected, and not driven to accomplish team goals.

In that kind of workplace, it’s easier to simply keep your head down, do the minimum, and get that paycheck at the end of the week. And when employees feel that way, they won’t necessarily be happy in their roles, productivity will likely decline, and work will stall. It will be more challenging for that team to do what needs to be done.

employee happiness-1 On the flip side, appreciation, respect, and enthusiasm, coupled with emotional support and validation, can be contagious. Positivity begets positivity - and emotions are strongly correlated with performance and productivity.

Let's ask this question: how much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? A LOT - it's powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. The world's premier provider of emotional intelligence (used my over 75% of Fortune 500 companies) tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining 58% of success in all types of jobs.

Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you do and say each day.

Now, when you look at teams, those whose members feel emotionally supported and appreciated through their challenges and successes will likely be happier and more productive. They will want to celebrate their successes, so they will work harder and more effectively together to be successful.

Effective emotional understanding and management will help team members cohere and be more productive and feel more valued and understood.

2. Emotional intelligence helps leaders to adapt

Leaders also need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances in their own roles and those of their team members. Understanding and managing your emotions and of those around you should help you to navigate through an ever-changing world, and even to become a successful leader in it. (how many of you have lost your cool when things change?!)

According to the Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence is a key leadership skill and for a leader to truly be effective, they MUST master their relationships in a positive way. 

I've found, along with other studies that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. Research across the world clearly shows that emotional intelligence and top performers are highly correlated (90% studied); whereas, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.

Isn’t that crazy?! Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader without utilizing emotional intelligence to assist in adapting to change.

Because emotions are always in flux, adaptability is key to being an outstanding leader.

3. Great leaders dramatically improve their teams and organizations using emotional intelligence 

When it comes to the workplace, and especially business, the bottom line is crucial and leaders and executives are often held responsible for successes and failures. 

  • They work to inspire and motivate those around them
  • They focus on collaboration between team members
  • They act with integrity and honesty with every team member
  • They develop and support others, and they ALWAYS celebrate the successes of their employees 
  • They encourage employees to learn more and develop their skills
  • They build relationships, communicating that each team member is valued, and that their concerns are important and will be addressed

There is a steady rise in employee satisfaction with the development of a great leader—poor leaders’ employees have poor job satisfaction, and great leaders’ employees are much more committed and happy with their work. 

Even more interesting is that when you have a truly great leader, they can double a company’s profits (research done by Jack Zenger).

That’s right—double the profits! Most of us would think that emotional intelligence may not have to do much with a company’s bottom line, but when you have a great leader who possesses and utilizes effective emotional intelligence, your organization as a whole—ranging from employee satisfaction and engagement to revenue and profits—will greatly benefit. I bet your wondering if you can even increase your emotional intelligence?? The answer is absolutely YES - and I can help!

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