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Russell Ward

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What can emotional intelligence do for you?


Intelligence has many dimensions - its emotional component being one of the most important. Russell Ward elaborates.

When we think of what defines intelligence, the most common associations are educational study or the ability to memorise a mind-boggling array of facts and figures. Intelligence, however, is not confined to the realms of IQ and academia. In fact, there are estimated to be nine different types of intelligence, ranging from more widely accepted areas such as logical/mathematical intelligence to the less well-known existential and intrapersonal intelligence. Combined, these latter forms are often referred to as emotional intelligence (EI); an area that has not always received the recognition it deserves but one that is of inestimable value to companies.

The link between emotional intelligence and increased performance is nothing new. In 1996 David McClelland found that senior managers with a critical mass of emotional intelligence capabilities enabled their divisions to outperform yearly earnings by 20%, division leaders without the critical mass underperformed almost equally. Fast-forward 15 years and the business world is finally beginning to catch up.

Emotional intelligence has been slowly but surely working its way up the agenda to become a core skill in every area of business, from leadership to teamwork. It can affect daily interactions with team members, senior staff, and even prospects. Such is the importance of the subject that nearly 3,000 articles have now been published on the subject since that first research in the 90s.

Mastering these key attributes then, is vital for leadership success, and yet many companies are still not putting enough focus on development. Though increasing self-awareness within your organisation may seem like a difficult task, implementing emotional intelligence into everyday business practice is not only possible, it is essential.

Effectively interacting with and influencing your people requires a heightened sense of self-awareness, making it an important skill senior level staff to master. So what does emotional intelligence mean for you and how can it be used in the workplace? Here are the two key areas to consider:

Self-awareness and self-management

The office is an arena where a professional attitude and considered communication are key elements of great leadership and best practice team performance. It is certainly not a place where personal emotions are given free rein; allowing personal opinion and prejudice to influence decisions can seriously impede performance.

The Harvard Business Review states that in the modern age 'truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.'

Without emotional intelligence we are unable to understand, let alone manage our emotions. By increasing self-awareness, EI works to enhance our appreciation of our own emotions and how they can be regulated within the workplace. The greatest benefit that this offers, on an individual basis, is the comprehension of your personality type. Through greater understanding of your emotions, in particular how you cope under pressure, comes the ability to develop. Using models that incorporate the main elements of EI, you can identify your current place on the emotional scale and thereby establish where development is needed to improve your self-regulation skills.

This will give you the capability to manage your reactions and interactions for a more beneficial outcome in any given situation. It will also enable you to approach workplace decisions objectively; removing your personal preference from the situation and making the best call for you team and your company.

Interacting with other people

If you are unable to empathise, this can impact on multiple areas, including your ability to collaborate, communicate, and integrate with others. This is where EI brings a further benefit to your people skills. The ability to understand your own emotions and personality type can also be applied to other people.

The models used to increase your own self-awareness can be used to evaluate the behaviour of others and help you to understand not only the best way to interact, but also the motivations behind the decisions others make. This will increase your ability to build and form more successful relationships in every area of business; both internally and externally.

Not only does this improve your ability to get the best out of other people, it also enables you to make sure that you are fully understood. For senior level staff such a level of understanding may be vital to organisational success; especially when guiding an organisation through a period of change. Emotional intelligence can give you the tools you need to effectively communicate the need for change and receive the support you need from your people for successful change management.

Small wonder then that Emotional Intelligence is one of the biggest elements that drives inspiring leadership and good performance. By increasing your awareness of yourself and other people, you can dramatically improve individual interactions and the overall performance of your company. This is beneficial for all areas of management practice; from coaching and supporting team members to helping your organisation navigate change successfully.

Russell Ward’s new book High Performance Sales Strategies, is out now, published by Pearson. Have a look here


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