If you’ve done any professional networking at all, you’ve probably heard this line: “People like to do business with those they like and trust.” I believe this is true, and I also feel that those who succeed in the business world typically have qualities that transcend competence or intelligence.
This doesn’t mean being inept or not very smart will get you far, but it does demonstrate the importance of emotional intelligence as a precursor of success. What is emotional intelligence? It’s the ability to effectively use self-awareness and appropriate social skills to build consensus, manage people toward a common goal and in essence, be “liked”; it’s the X factor that can make an intangible difference for entrepreneurs or those seeking to climb the corporate ladder.
You’re probably familiar with intelligence quotient (IQ), a measure of brainpower that changes very little after your teens. What you may not be aware of is your emotional quotient (EQ), which ranks higher than IQ—in first place—as a determinant of outstanding job performance.
How can you benefit from knowing this? It’s important to assess yourself based on the five dimensions that make up your EQ profile:
- Self-perception—Self-regard, self-respect, confidence, actualization and emotional self-awareness
- Expression—Communications skills such as assertiveness, showing your feelings and constructive criticism as well as how independent you are
- Interpersonal—Participating in mutually satisfying relationships, showing empathy, understanding how others’ feel, demonstrating social responsibility and seeing the broader picture
- Decision-making—Problem-solving, controlling your impulses, delaying gratification and being objective
- Stress management—Flexibility, tolerance, optimism, adaptability and ability to cope…a key predictor of successful people
What areas are strengths for you, and which are weaknesses? By knowing yourself, and focusing on the things you do well, you can better understand the effect your behavior has on those around you—and why you’re succeeding (or not) in your chosen career or endeavor. You also have the opportunity to address your weaker areas; it’s possible to change your EQ, since emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned.
Here’s a 10-step plan for developing your EQ that was created by Dana C. Ackley, Ph.D. and presented at his EQ Leadership Program:
- Select the skill you want to improve.
- Test your selection to ensure sustainable motivation.
- Carefully define the behaviors to change, describing your current behavior and writing a measurable goal to create a vision of how you’ll behave once you’ve improved in this area.
- Create a plan to get to your goal.
- Identify factors that will support and/or hinder your change.
- Develop self-monitoring systems to assess your progress.
- Identify potential sources of additional training, experience and information.
- Develop feedback systems.
- Develop self-reward systems.
- Develop timelines.
Think about individuals you know in “people-oriented” professionals such as financial planning. Do those who are most successful have the most talent—or are they best at being able to relate to other people? You, too, can be a star performer by enhancing your EQ and making the power of emotional intelligence work for you.