It has been a commonly held belief that people with the highest IQs will be the most successful in their careers and personal lives. Today, that belief has been shaken by research that shows that having high emotional intelligence (or EI) is more crucial than a high IQ for business and personal success.
At one time, a business could differentiate itself simply by the technology it possessed. Now as businesses compete in a global environment, and companies have similar technology available to them, the differentiating factors for success have become human capital and emotional intelligence. Research has shown that the number one cause of personal and professional derailment is not a lack of intellectual intelligence or technical skills, but rather ineffective emotional intelligence (interpersonal abilities).
What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is knowing and understanding yourself, knowing and understanding others, and knowing how to relate most effectively in all contexts. In his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Daniel Goleman has defined emotional intelligence characteristics: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, and he has documented the power of emotional intelligence in the workplace, in relationships and personal and organizational success.
Through his research, Dr. Goleman, has discovered that every encounter with parents, spouses, bosses and even strangers affects cells throughout our bodies, right down to our genes, for good or bad. In a workplace setting, as an example, when a manager treats his employees well and speaks to them respectfully, employees thrive, they feel less stress, are more productive, they experience less conflict with others. Their home environment is much happier. The company’s bottom line thrives, as well. Alternatively, when a manager mistreats and berates his employees, employees feel more stressed, they are less productive, they experience more conflict, their home environments suffers, and this eventually impacts negatively on the company’s bottom line. Thus, the higher the position an employee holds within a company, the more imperative it is that they posses highly developed emotional intelligence skills.
In an article entitled, “At Work, Feeling Good Matters”, by Jerry Krueger and Emily Kilham, it is reported that according to a 2005 Gallup Management Journal survey “happy employees are better equipped to handle workplace relationships, stress and change.” They also stated that, “other research on happiness in the workplace suggests that worker well-being plays a major role in organizational performance.” The article reported on a study conducted in 2004 by The American Psychological Association where it discovered that almost 2/3 of those that participated indicated that their work lives had a significant impact on their stress levels. One in four had called in sick or taken a “mental health day” resulting from the stress they experienced at work. In addition, health care expenses are almost 50% higher for employees who experience higher stress levels.
It is important for organizations to recognize the relationship between employee stress and their health and well-being, so that they can help employees manage stress and find balance in their work and personal lives. Organizations that recognize this important link demonstrate emotional intelligence, and experience greater productivity and higher employee engagement levels.
At any given moment, every company employs three groups of employees:
- Not-Engaged; and,
- Actively Disengaged.
Engaged employees are passionate about their work. They arrive early, stay late, and are willing to help others in the company. They believe in the company’s vision and have greater company loyalty.
Employees who are not-engaged tend not to have passion for what they do. They arrive and leave on time, but they will often accomplish only the bare minimum to have a pay cheque.
Actively disengaged employees are not happy being at work (and in their life in general), they tend to arrive late, leave early, take more sick leave, and, when they are at work, they frequently are disruptive. Employers often wish they had just stayed at home.
Levels of engagement have been studied in various countries. Here are some examples from the Gallup Survey noted in the book; “Follow this Path”:
Country Engaged Not Engaged Actively Disengaged
Canada 24% 60% 16%
France 9% 63% 28%
Great Britain 17% 63% 20%
Italy Not Recorded
Singapore 6% 76% 17%
US 30% 54% 16%
Previous Gallup research indicates that supervisors play a major role in worker well-being and engagement. The findings show that having a positive relationship with a supervisor has an impact on engagement, and suggests that employees who are more engaged have more positive interactions with their co-workers than those who are less engaged.
The Gallup Management Journal’s 2005 survey went one step further as to estimate the cost of lower productivity due to disengagement. The loss to the U.S.economy for only the actively disengaged employees was estimated at $300 billion a year. As seen above, other countries have actively disengaged employees as well, and their respective economies are negatively impacted, too. Organizations would do well to address the disengagement levels within their companies.
How can this be done? It starts with engaging their employees; speaking and dealing with their employees with emotional competence; communicating, delegating and recognizing each employee according to their personality styles. Each personality style has different needs and values to meet. Accommodating the needs and values are very simple adjustments to make.
Any organization competing in the global marketplace and wanting to be a leader in their field, to differentiate themselves as ‘Employer of Choice’ and to improve their productivity and profitability levels, would be prudent to increase their emotional competence. Emotional intelligence is here to stay and is changing the way we do business and deal with employees.
 Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence (New York,New York: Bantam Bell, 2006), inside front cover.
 Jerry Krueger and Emily Kilham, At Work, Feeling Good Matters (Princeton,NJ: The Gallup Organization, 2006), Reprinted by HRPAO, p.1.
 Krueger and Kilham, p.1.
 Krueger and Kilham, p.1.
 Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina, PhD, Follow this Path (Princeton,NJ: TheGallup Organization, 2007)
 Krueger and Kilham, p.1.
 Krueger and Kilham, p.4.
Sandra Corrado, CHRP, FIS, PTS, ZIN, of Next Level Consulting, is a Human Performance Specialist & Health & Wellness Facilitator, and is a Strategic Partner with Personality Resources International. She is an active member of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.