“All learning has an emotional base”  (Plato)

Emotional Intelligence, or EI, is described as “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”.[1] It describes abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence, the purely cognitive capacities measured by IQ.

What every aspiring professional should know:

  1. 500 Corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations have independently concluded that EI is critical to excellence in almost any job.
  2. A recent survey of a Training and Development Study found that 80% of companies are promoting EI in their employees – through training, development, performance evaluations and hiring practices.
  3. Human factors in the workplace are increasingly important as the pace of change and the knowledge explosion accelerate.
  4. Several decades worth of research studies identify team building, adapting to change, being a change catalyst and leveraging diversity as critically important in today’s competitive environment.
  5. The days of life-long employment and meritocracy are fading. Today, internal qualities such as resilience, initiative, optimism, and adaptability are increasingly required.
  6. A national survey of employers revealed that, for entry-level workers, specific technical skills are less important than the ability to learn on the job. Next in importance were: listening and oral communication, adaptability and creative responses to setbacks and obstacles, personal management, confidence, motivation, initiative and pride in one’s accomplishments.
  7. A similar study of corporations’ requirements for in-coming MBAs identified the three most desired capabilities as communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative.
  8. Harvard Business School identified empathy, perspective taking, rapport and cooperation as the most desirable qualities in their applicants.
  9. The 12 key job capabilities are all based on self-mastery, initiative, trustworthiness, self-confidence, and achievement drive.
  10. The 13 key relationship skills include: empathy, political awareness, leveraging diversity, team capabilities, and leadership.

None of the above bold attributes are IQ-based or technical-skill based.

“EI is King”

Daniel Goleman, who in 1995 popularized several decades of Emotional Intelligence research, found that 80% of success comes from Emotional Intelligence. The context is, your IQ sets your capacity for career to a certain level, but once there (eg a CEO) you are among equal competition. Your opportunity or limitation for success is then due 80% to your skills in “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”[2].  For leadership that is almost everything.

The business case is compelling: companies that invest in developing their leaders’ emotional intelligence, position themselves to maximum competitive advantage. Just as rain follows accumulation of water vapor as clouds, profit is the ‘rain’ that follows the intensifying of emotional intelligence.

A leader’s ability to perceive and evaluate emotions and control his own, is a skill unrelated to technical excellence. Skills of emotional intelligence are transformative and bring catapulting force. Develop these and watch your pay rise.





[1] Daniel Goleman, 1998

[2] Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, leading researchers on emotional intelligence, 1990.