It was already in the late 50s when psychologists discovered that IQ was not enough to guarantee a glittering career in life. The research involved children whose intelligence was first measured and then after 20 years the top performers were found to take a closer look at their lives, both professional and private. To researchers’ astonishment, there was no rule that those who scored highest in their intelligence tests succeeded in their lives as well. The question emerged: what does it take to achieve success in all aspects of life? After some years they came up with an answer: Emotional Intelligence.
We keep wondering why some people get promoted at work and some, despite being geniuses in their fields, are suck in dead-end jobs. What distinguishes average employees from the top performers? A few days ago I took part in the workshop about managing people and I learned that apparently, IQ alone is not sufficient to interact with people successfully and achieve success.
It’s easy to ‘sense’ an emotionally intelligent person
I’m sure that in every office you meet coworkers that you feel very comfortable with and the communication goes smoothly. They are great listeners, know what to say even though they don’t solve your problem. After talking with them we feel more optimistic and calm. They always manage their emotions and are soft on people but hard-on problems. They accept criticism well and turn it into better performance. Who are they? This is what they call emotional intelligence, which is considered just as important as technical competencies and expertise in the workplace.
What is emotional intelligence?
We all have different personalities and that’s why EI is so essential it allows us to handle all these people around. Daniel Goleman created a framework of 5 elements that define EI:
1. Self-awareness– people with high EI understand their emotions and don’t let them govern their lives. They know their strengths and weaknesses and by working on them their performance improves.
2. Self-regulation – they are able to control emotions and impulses. They seldom lose temper, make impulsive decisions or act without considering first.
3. Motivation- such people have a lot of internal motivation. They are ready to work hard for even a very remote result or a long-term success. They enjoy challenges and adapt easily to changes.
4. Empathy-they easily identifies with the feelings and needs of other people. People with high EI notice immediately when something wrong is going on with a colleague at the office. They are able to recognize feelings and listen carefully without jumping to conclusions.
5. Social skills– people with high EI are great team players, team success-oriented rather than focused on their individual benefits. They are able to solve disputes easily and they know how to build and maintain relationships.
Nothing in life is black or white
In certain jobs, where you are more task-oriented and work independently, EI is not required at a high level. But most jobs we perform involve interacting with people, working with teams and understanding what others communicate. Also, it’s impossible to do a management job without social skills.
Emotionally intelligent employees realize that we are very different and jumping to conclusions or being judgmental and prejudiced is pointless. They understand that a colleague who is noisy, talks too much about himself at a fast pace is not necessarily an arrogant idiot but maybe just expressive. Such a person says whatever he thinks without prior consideration, they may seem too open and blatantly straightforward. Also, EI people don’t get irritated with a coworker who takes time in going through every detail in the document, checking everything thoroughly and is more orderly than others. Instead of labelling them as “a real pain in the neck type of guy” EI employees realize that some people don’t like working in chaos and prefer acting step by step. Are they guilty of being different from us? Can you handle these differences?
Why is EI important at the workplace?
Nowadays, it’s common practice that recruiters not only verify the core competences of the candidates but also check their emotional intelligence. Why bother? Are emotionally intelligent employees really useful in the organization? In my previous post, I already presented the qualities of a perfect developer from different points of view and it seems that EI plays a huge role.
Undoubtedly, EI affects many aspects of their work life. I guess it’s good to have such people in the company ranks. Isn’t it great to work under a manager who comes up with alternative plans when the initial one is not working out? The manager who adapts to changes easily? A manager who encourages and motivates people who are about to give up? Wouldn’t you like to work with a person who makes good decisions even when in anger? Dear Manager, isn’t it easy to cooperate with teams that can consider problems from multiple perspectives? Who are inventive in creating new original solutions?
In my next post, I will share my experiences in recruiting emotionally intelligent developers who are a rare species in the IT world. I will also discuss how to interview IT people, find the real gems and pick the cherries. Do you think that the stereotype of a developer – a nerd with hardly any social skills – is justified?