You can see the compelling data and its power of sustainable use as emotions are in play in both professional and personal life as there are human beings in both worlds. It is simply impossible to remove the human (emotional) component in every decision made. We do not make a decision just on facts and data. This isn’t just impractical, it is impossible. Before we even have an intellectual response to a situation, we first have an emotional response. We either feel positive and attracted to the situation or we feel negative and want to avoid it. This feeling has a deep subconscious effect on our ultimate decision about the situation. We may disregard facts or data that support a certain decision if we first had a negative emotional reaction to that situation.
*On the other hand, we may decide that we are being overly emotional in our decision making, and work to better control or regulate our emotional responses to a situation. This is why we say that EQ, unlike many of our behaviors or motivators, can be improved or enhanced with better understanding.
Before we look at improving our EQ, let’s take a look at how ingrained EQ is in our decision-making process. We will define the below graphic from right to left to best uncover EQ’s role in the process:
EQ (Emotional Quotient) influences Cognition which influences Behaviors which influence Competency which determines Performance
Our ultimate goal is superior Performance. Performance could also be replaced with higher sales goals or better productivity. This is the end goal of your organization’s workforce. Working in reverse, to reach that goal we must first look at competencies. Does the employee have the competence or capabilities to reach the end goal? If we vote ‘yes’ and stop there, we are short-changing the employee. Just because someone has the acumen doesn’t mean that they have the emotional wherewithal to apply it.
Next, in line are behaviors. We have all known or interacted with someone who has an amazing skill set, but whose actions or behaviors are so off-putting, that they overshadow their ability. The flipside would be someone who shows amazing effort and willingness to participate, but may not have the ability. The ideal scenario would be someone who both behaves appropriately with respect to the business culture and has the level of acumen to properly support the end goal.
Still, we have not reached the starting point of our goal. Next is cognition. This acts as your internal database of experience and knowledge that tells you which behavior and subsequent competence to pull from in order to reach the goal. To oversimplify, you wouldn’t pull from your extensive knowledge of classical music to set the path of reaching a financial goal. You would pull from your knowledge obtained in business school and/or your experience from last year’s financial strategy and use that to travel down the most efficient path.
Here, is where we finally look at EQ. Although this is our last point, it has actually been involved in every step of the way. Having the most appropriate emotional reaction will set all of those other physiological reactions off on the right foot. For example, the employee may be emotionally determined and excited to set next year’s financial goals. Therefore, he pulls up that business school knowledge applies the lessons learned from last year’s strategy meeting, conveys confidence in the session, applies his skills as a good negotiator and the ultimate decision is made.
Conversely, let’s say that same employee just ended an important personal relationship the night before the meeting. His thoughts are occupied by what went wrong in his relationship, and he doesn’t have the energy to invoke his financial knowledge. He is reserved in the meeting and as others look to him for answers, he struggles to contribute. Ultimately mistakes are repeated that could have been avoided if the person was more engaged in the process.
Unlike all the other concepts, emotions – and EQ by extension – are the core of the human makeup. Physiologically, our DNA is the core of our being and identities. Our basic physiological needs start with food and water. Similarly, in the behavioral and skills context, that basic core is composed of our emotions. Emotion ultimately drives our behavior, the deployment of our skills and knowledge and the maintenance of social interactions.
We are a product of a combination of two things: our genetics and the accumulation of our daily experiences. This combination is so unique that no two people are the same. Even genetically identical twins will demonstrate different behavior as a result of different experiences. Though we cannot change our DNA or our genetics, and we cannot change what happens, we can change the impact of our experiences. And we can leverage our talents and abilities to compensate for our weaknesses.
Similarly, in any workplace, our success is determined by a combination of emotional intelligence skills, technical skills and cognitive abilities (IQ). You cannot enhance your cognitive abilities. Technical skills will only get you so far. The best work is done collaboratively, by groups of people. An individual with the highest IQ cannot outperform a team with mediocre IQ but high EQ -because they can get more done and collaborate more effectively.
Studies show that an average negative experience can exert physiological effects on one’s body for approximately 4 hours. (4 hours is how long the endorphins remain in your system). This means that if an employee has even the slightest negative experience, the employee’s optimal performance may be compromised for up to four hours!
Let’s say that the average worker has 2 negative experiences a day. Perhaps someone cut them off twice in traffic on their way to work, for example. Essentially, that employee may be underperforming for the rest of the 8-hour workday. There could not be a more impressive business case for Emotional Intelligence than this. If human beings do not appre- ciate the power of their own emotions and the impact they have, both positively and negatively, then a great deal of time and money is wasted each day in disengagement and underperformance.
The converse is equally true. What if a manager or leader orchestrates a positive experience for his/her staff? Could the positive endorphins also stay in the human body for a period of time; diluting the negative experiences already in existence or enhancing the overall body? Of course! It is this ability to recognize and apply emotional acumen that defines emotional intelligence. That’s just one metric for demonstrating the value of EQ. What are some other ways of measuring the impact of emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is arguably the singular competency that can help both employees and employers get out of a funk faster. The ability to recognize and regulate emotions and harness them for high performance will be paramount. EQ has never been more relevant in the workplace than it is now and will continue to be in the next few years. Those of us brave enough to espouse this to our executives and make this a formal part of their strategic plans are going to have a significant advantage over those that do not.
While we can expect our understanding of EQ to continue to evolve as it is studied, EQ is here to stay. It continues to gain significant prominence in both academia and the corporate world. There is a reason to believe that, unlike so many other concepts in the human capital space that have come and gone EQ is growing in acceptance and practice.