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Emotional Intelligence and Performance

Emotional Intelligence underpins who we are and underlies each decision and action we take. It impacts on every aspect of our lives. Our work life is characterised by the interaction we have with many different individuals with a variety of personalities, skills, strengths, and emotions. It is no surprise that research has shown that our Emotional Intelligence has a direct link to our success and performance at work - much more than the previously thought, cognitive ability (IQ).

As Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase stated during his speech to the MBA graduates at Harvard Business School: "Your IQ's are all high enough for you to be very successful, but where people often fall short is on the EQ." He went on to make comment on another important feature of EQ: "It's something you develop over time. A lot of management skills are EQ, because management is all about how people function."

Unlike personality traits and cognitive ability (IQ) which appear relatively stable over time, Emotional Intelligence can be developed. EI development has been linked to improved decision-making, risk-taking, interpersonal relationships, commitment, prioritising, problem solving and many other behaviours associated with effective performance at work. Both the individual and the organisation benefits when focus is placed on developing EI capability. Leaders with strong EI create more engaging work environments in which performance and potential is maximised through enhanced morale (due to greater empowerment and ongoing development of employees) and employee well-being.

Defining and measuring EI

The term Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or EQ) was initially identified by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer in 1990. The term was popularised and brought into the public arena by the journalist Dan Goleman in his 1996 book entitled "Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ".

Since then the definition of EI and its development have been a source of much debate and research. However, as a common consensus we define EI as the ability to:

  • Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions

  • Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others

In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behaviour and impact people (positively and negatively) and also learning how to manage those emotions - both our own and others - especially when we are under pressure.

In their work to better understand the impact of EI, Professors Victor Dulewicz and Malcom Higgs developed the Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire. This allows individuals to gain insight in a clear framework so that they can harness the power of their EI for the mutual benefit of themselves and the organisations in which they operate. The framework was developed into a self-survey and a 360 degree feedback survey.

Dulewicz and Higgs identify the seven elements of emotional intelligence as:

Emotional Intelligence Model

Self-awareness - The awareness of one's own feelings and the ability to recognise and manage these feelings in a way which one feels that one can control. This factor includes a degree of self-belief in one’s ability to manage one's emotions and to control their impact in a work environment.

Emotional resilience - The ability to perform consistently in a range of situations under pressure and to adapt behaviour appropriately. The ability to balance the needs of the situation and task with the needs and concerns of the individuals involved. The ability to retain focus on a course of action or need for results in the face of personal challenge or criticism.

Motivation - The drive and energy to achieve clear results and make an impact and, also, to balance short- and long-term goals with an ability to pursue demanding goals in the face of rejection or questioning.

Interpersonal sensitivity - The ability to be aware of, and take account of, the needs and perceptions of others in arriving at decisions and proposing solutions to problems and challenges. The ability to build from this awareness and achieve the commitment of others to decisions and action ideas. The willingness to keep open one's thoughts on possible solutions to problems and to actively listen to, and reflect on, the reactions and inputs from others.

Influence - The ability to persuade others to change a viewpoint based on the understanding of their position and the recognition of the need to listen to this perspective and provide a rationale for change.

Intuitiveness - The ability to arrive at clear decisions and drive their implementation when presented with incomplete or ambiguous information using both rational and 'emotional' or intuitive perceptions of key issues and implications.

Conscientiousness - The ability to display clear commitment to a course of action in the face of challenge and to match 'words and deeds' in encouraging others to support the chosen direction. The personal commitment to pursuing an ethical solution to a difficult business issue or problem.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

GFB strongly believe that there is no one size fits all model for a perfect leader. Successful leaders differ greatly in the skills, personalities and behaviours which have set them apart and helped them to excel in their fields. What great leaders do have in common is self-awareness. They understand where they can best use their strengths to drive an organisation forward and develop themselves and those around them to improve performance and workplace well-being.

Everyone can develop their EI capability and build on their self-awareness. Our coaches and facilitators are trained to help individuals develop their EI awareness and support its development. As Goleman identifies "EI includes a broad spectrum of competencies, and no leader is A+ across the board - even the best have room to improve."

Report pages from the EIQ emotional intelligence assessment

Often our coaching discussions are supported by the output from the questionnaire designed by Dulewicz and Higgs, the Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire - Managerial or General EIQ-M or EIQ-G This tool identifies individual's strengths and development areas in line with the 7 areas identified above (along with providing an overall EI score) to allow individuals to explore their self-awareness and development priorities.

The coaching sessions with the individual encourages them to:

  • reflect on, and identify, examples of behaviour which they exhibit in different situations;

  • identify those behaviours which are seen as strengths, and develop plans to strengthen and build on these;

  • identify those behaviours which are seen as development needs, and identify changes which they could make to address these needs;

  • consciously practise reinforcing and changing behaviours, and reflect on their responses to them;

  • continuously seek feedback from colleagues on the behaviour they have attempted to change.


EI impacts each and every decision and action we take as individuals both within the workplace and across our wider lives. In an organisational setting it's there in the basic instruction to teams just as much as it's present in mass organisational change. EI enables individuals to build and drive successful teams, and to be agile and responsive as needed. Awareness of EI and its development is therefore of benefit to both the individual and the organisations in which they operate. It matters so much more than IQ; and because it can be developed let's get on with it!

References & Recommended reads

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