Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognise and manage one’s own personality to be both personally and interpersonally effective in different situations. Psychologists cite five elements to EI:
- Self-awareness – the ability to recognise and understand one’s moods and emotions, and the impact that they have on others;
- Self-regulation – the ability to control impulses and to think before acting;
- Internal motivation – being driven to pursue goals for personal reasons, rather than for a reward.
- Empathy – the ability to recognise and understand others’ motivations.
- Social skills – the ability to build networks and manage relationships.
The importance of EI is increasingly recognised by HR professionals in deciding whether or not a potential candidate is right for the role for which they are interviewing and the company as a whole.
The benefits speak for themselves. Being able to recognise and manage our emotions, self-motivate, as well as understand the emotions of others and handle relationships are essential “soft skills” for today’s workplace. Dr Sumona Mukhuty, Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that “in the last two decades, emotional intelligence has often been identified as a key factor in effective leadership.”
According to a study by Hay Group on salespeople in 44 Fortune 500 companies, it was suggested that those with a high EI rating produced twice the revenue of those with an average or lower score. Another study from PSI Testing Excellence found that 32% of executives with high emotional intelligence are “more effective at building and maintaining relationships.”
Interestingly however, an exceptionally high level of EI may not be beneficial at all levels of a business. A study conducted by Manchester Metropolitan University and the EMLyon Business School of 300 NHS managers found that there is an optimal level of EI, identified as being “moderately high”. NHS staff were asked to rate their managers’ level of empathy and emotional awareness. It was found that managers with an above-optimal level of EI had a less productive workforce and were less popular. Furthermore, managers in this category possessed characteristics associated with too much empathy, which in turn may made them hesitant to apply measures that they felt imposed excessive burden or discomfort on subordinates. This increases the likelihood of their workforces being less efficient and potentially more frustrated with their lack of output. This suggested EI testing to identify the optimal level of EI for potential managerial candidates could be a significant positive HR strategy.
With many businesses seeking candidates that are “people smart” as well as “book smart”, the importance of EI testing and training should not be underestimated. Developing individuals’ EI offers opportunities for better self-understanding, successful management of emotions, and improved social relationships. In turn, this appears to have a positive impact on productivity and bottom line.
25th October 2019