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PERSONALITY: The Link Between Emotional Awareness and Professional Growth

Deborah-Mackin-2013-NewDirectionsBased on the research done by Daniel Goleman, Robert Cooper and others* on Emotional Intelligence, it now can be asserted that certain competencies are found repeatedly in high performing employees.  These “intangibles” explain why some people excel while others with the same intellectual power fall behind.  Researchers now contend that it is Emotional Intelligence that enables us to recognize opportunity, deal with problems and challenges effectively, and work collaboratively.   Emotional intelligence explains why people with the highest IQs outperform those with average IQs just 20% of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time (Bradberry and Greaves, Emotional Intelligence 2.0).

What is Emotional Intelligence?  EQ is the dimension of intelligence responsible for our ability to manage ourselves and our relationships with others.  Four competencies emerge in someone with a high EQ:  ability to identify one’s own emotions and express them effectively to others and, on a broader plane, the ability to empathize with how others are feeling and manage the complexity of those relationships.  So we are made up of three elements:  our IQ (cognitive intelligence), our EQ (emotional intelligence) and our personality.  IQ and personality are stable and don’t change over time; EQ is the only component that can be developed and changed.

Let’s explore what EQ is and how it can be developed:

Self-Awareness: An individual with self-awareness is very aware of his/her own values and core beliefs and knows what the emotional reaction will be if those fundamentals are compromised. Self-awareness extends even to the point of being able to anticipate and predict one’s own emotional reactions.  Interestingly, however, in a recent study only 36% of people were able to accurately identify their emotions as they happened.  That means that two-thirds of us are controlled by emotions we cannot spot.

Self-Control: An individual with self-control has mastery over his/her emotions, both positive and/or negative.  Emotions can be expressed in ways that are open, honest and direct with an ability to tolerate uncertainty and put momentary needs on hold.  Likewise self-control means that we are able to predict emotional “hot spots” and plan accordingly, rather than flying off the handle or sulking for days.

Understanding Others: Empathy – or the ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them – requires us to have an awareness of how others might perceive a situation.  These perceptions are based on their own set of values and beliefs that may very well be different from our own.  To achieve this level of emotional intelligence, the individual must be able to consider both the reason and logic for another’s point of view, while at the same time, identifying with the emotions associated with the event.  Listening and observing are the most important skills of social awareness.  To achieve an understanding of others, we must stop talking, stop the chatter in our own heads, stop anticipating what someone is going to say, and stop thinking ahead to what we want to say in reply.

Relationship Management: The fourth level of Emotional Intelligence involves our ability to build relationships and bonds with others that are based on the assumption of human equality.  To do this, we must use all of the prior elements of emotional intelligence PLUS see the benefits of connecting with people, even those we don’t necessarily like.  The focus is on building, rather than destroying or controlling, relationships.  Here the individual must be able to read situations for readiness, appropriateness and spoken and unspoken interactions.

If emotional intelligence is so vital to our success, what are some easy steps we can take to begin working on each of these competencies?

1. We must accept that emotions are an integral part of our work experience and that as leaders we have enormous impact on how people feel about their work.  Using a familiar expression of “leave your emotions are the door,” is in direct opposition to the concept of emotional intelligence.  EQ embraces the idea that we are complex beings that cannot separate the cognitive and emotional centers of our brains.  In fact, success comes from our ability to increase the communication between these two centers in the brain.

2. It is important for us to see a direct link between emotions and productivity and quality. How we feel about ourselves affects the quality of our work.  Low self-esteem does not make a high performer.  Therefore, as managers, when we criticize someone in front of others or belittle someone’s work, we lower their self-esteem which in turn lowers their quality and productivity.  It’s such a simple concept that it makes us wonder why some managers continue to be so critical and demeaning in the workplace.  Obviously, they have not mastered the first step of emotional intelligence:  controlling their own emotions.

3. We must explore how to create a positive environment that allows for, and even promotes, differences. Last week I was in a meeting with the head of operations who entered the room like a storm cloud and could barely engage in the conversation the group was having.  He made no effort to control his bad mood and paid little attention to how it was affecting the discussion.  While today’s focus is often on getting the work out the door, are we owning our role, as leaders, in building the environment that will make the work flow smoothly, or is our behavior, actually more of a roadblock?

So we are faced with a dilemma.  All the research suggests that our success will be directly linked to our level of emotional intelligence.  In fact, Bradberry and Greaves report that EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58% of performance in all job types and that every point increase in EQ adds $1,300 to an annual salary.  Recognizing that information travels along the rational and emotional areas of the brain similar to cars on a busy street, we must practice increasing the traffic flow in order to strengthen the connections that will make us successful.  There probably isn’t one of us who couldn’t benefit from taking this on as our next area of professional growth.

What’s Your EQ? Take The Test by Queendom



  • Daniel Goleman, “Working with Emotional Intelligence”
  • Robert Cooper and Ayman Sawaf, “Executive EQ, Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations”
  • Robert E. Kelley, “How to Be a Star at Work”
  • Adele B. Lynn, “In Search of Honor -Lessons from Workers on How to Build Trust”
  • Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0″
  • Adele B. Lynn, “The Emotional Intelligence Activity Book”



If you liked this, you may want to read these:

•           The Battle for Personal Efficiency: 6 Tips to Regain Control of the Workload

•           8 Steps To Becoming Value-Added In Your Organization

•           FREE ARTICLE: Emotional Intelligence

  • it”s very useful for understanding the impact of emotional intelligence on quality and productivity of performance…

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