Emotional Intelligence. This term keeps popping up everywhere at the moment, it was even mentioned on the Ryan Tubridy breakfast show this morning in relation to Big Brother! What is so important about Emotional Intelligence or E.I., and what relevance has it to you as a person, in your life, work and in your training and development?
What determines Success?
Alfred Binet carried out the first cognitive intelligence test in France in 1905. This later became known as the Stanford-Binet test, after it was standardised at Stanford University for the American population. Since that time, many have argued that this test only measured one of our intelligences (others include emotional, spatial, musical, and artistic). However, it has taken over 50 years for Emotional Intelligence to be taken seriously. Emotional Intelligence is how we relate to ourselves, others and our environment in general. It is defined by Dr. Reuven Bar-on, as ‘an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures; and it is a factor in determining one’s ability to succeed in life.’
We all want to be successful in our lives and, until now, success equalled straight As. The average student often looked at the high achievers at school as being more successful than they were. Yet, evidence does not prove this to be the case. Studies have been carried out following children from primary school, through second and on into third level education. They then returned at various stages to these same individuals to check how they were faring in the race called life, taking in all aspects including work, home and family. What they found was that academic success does not always equal ‘being a success’. The average student was often the most successful, when all aspects of their life were taken into consideration, often having the better job and happier home life. Clearly, Cognitive Intelligence or IQ is not the only factor in determining success, there is another intelligence at play, and that is Emotional Intelligence.
Have you ever worked in an environment in which the atmosphere was tense, due to the unpredictable behaviour of one member? Do you remember (or are you experiencing) the stress that such an atmosphere causes? Have you ever noticed the domino effect this has on everyone in the workplace? How can you function properly in an environment like this if you are waiting for a sudden outburst of uncontrolled anger, verbal abuse, blame or criticism, sudden highs or lows in mood? This is not a healthy way to work, and it is also not a productive way to work. It is particularly stressful if that person is a supervisor or manager.
People function better, and are much more effective and productive if they are in a happy and relaxed environment. They will want to go to work and will work more effectively; they will also be willing to put in that extra effort. So how do you improve behaviour, work atmosphere, and all the connected areas? The answer is the use of Emotional Intelligence.
The Use of Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman in his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1995), defines E.I. as ‘the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.’ The unpredictable member of the workforce described above did not have this capacity, hence his colleagues suffered as a result. The ability to manage emotions was not present, and the skills needed to cope with the pressures of everyday life and work (as defined by Dr. Bar-on) were not developed. His colleagues suffered due to the lack of emotional intelligence present in this individual. Emotional intelligence can also be lacking in teams and companies in general. The good news is, that when areas of weakness are identified, in the individual, team or company, they can be worked upon and improved.
There are many people associated with the growing awareness of E.I., among them Peter Salovey and John Meyer, who in 1990 defined E.I. as ‘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.’ This definition is very relevant to behaviour within the work environment and, if a workforce could behave in this manner, this would create an emotionally intelligent environment in which the unpredictable behaviour mentioned above would not occur, or could be dealt with effectively if it did occur.
The fact is that no amount of training and development, education or team building will have true impact, if the E.I. of the individual or group is under-developed. The introduction and application of E.I. to corporate environments can reinforce the success of the workforce in general, whatever the activity or size of a company. E.I. is necessary at all levels and, if senior levels embrace and apply E.I. in their daily dealings with all peers and employees, this will filter down through a company.
The BarOn EQ-I®
In the 1980′s, psychologist Reuven Bar-on, was researching ways to measure emotional intelligence and developed the term Emotional Quotient or EQ., which in turn lead to the EQ-I® or emotional-quotient inventory®. The BarOn EQ-I® psychometric assessment is the most validated measure of E.I. available. It measures E.I. based on five scales that are then further divided into fifteen subscales. The results of the inventory are a good indicator of how effectively we will perform, as individuals and as teams. The EQ-I® scales are:
o Intrapersonal – measures our ability to know and manage our own emotions.
o Interpersonal – measures our ability to relate to and get along with others.
o Adaptability – measures how flexible we are & our ability to solve problems.
o Stress Management – measures how well we tolerate stress and control our impulses.
o General Mood – measures our happiness and optimism
The areas that are measured in the BarOn EQ-I® are as applicable to a team as they are to an individual. For a team to work effectively, and maximise its’ performance, it needs to be aware of its’ E.I.; ‘the result will be greater collaboration, creativity, and productivity’ (Vanessa Urch Druskat & Steven B. Wolff). A team’s E.I. is not measured by the EI of individual members but is the measure of the E.I. of the whole group as it is a synergistic relationship.
Emotional Intelligence can be introduced into a company in various ways. It begins from the moment a new employee enters a company. It deals with how workers relate to each other, how managers manage, how responsive the organisation is to the needs of its people, and many other areas.
E.I. based Training and Development can concentrate on the skills that are relevant, including Interpersonal Relationships, Stress Tolerance, Problem Solving and Leadership Skills. If the areas of weakness are assessed through the use of the BarOn EQ-I® test beforehand – test options include a Leadership Report, a Group/Team Report and an Individual Report – the results of EI-based training will be reinforced
As Steven J. Stein says in Make your Workplace Great, ‘The benefits of working in an Emotionally Intelligent environment are enormous, and the impact on all involved is beyond measure.’
Eileen Woodford outlines how it pays to ride the wave of the recent resurgence of Emotional Intelligence