Determining a job candidate’s potential for success is a difficult task. In the past, hiring managers looked to people’s intelligence quotient (IQ) to gauge whether they would bring value to their organizations. Now, however, emotional intelligence (EQ) is seen as an increasingly relevant predictor for success.
Research shows that 95 percent of human resources managers believe that that EQ is critically important because it enables people to regulate their own emotions. Workers who are adept at coping with their feelings are more inclined to show empathy and understanding to their colleagues, and better at conflict resolution. Instead of needing constant oversight and mediation, they know how to tactfully address problems and how to encourage their coworkers’ best attributes.
Why emotional intelligence matters to culture
The definition of emotional intelligence is “the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions” and those of others. Emotionally intelligent people are essential to a great corporate culture. You cannot build a dynamic, forward-thinking company if your entire team is constantly anxious, in conflict, or subtly (and not-so-subtly) sabotaging one another.
When you hire people based not only on skill and job experience but EQ as well, you nurture a self-sustaining culture of greatness. These people want to excel, and they’re self-aware enough to know where they need to improve. They’re confident in their abilities and committed to the company’s collective success, not just their own.
Therefore, they’re keen to connect with their peers and their clients, recognizing that they are more effective when they build real relationships. Then, when problems arise, they approach them rationally and compassionately, instead of pointing fingers and wasting the company’s time and resources.
How EQ manifests in the workplace
Here are the ways EQ shows up in strong teams:
Recognition of strengths and weaknesses: Great soccer coaches don’t just say, “This guy is a midfielder and this one is a goalie.” They understand why each person is in that position and can articulate exactly what skills they bring to it. They have a holistic view of how each individual works as part of the broader team.
Similarly, a good manager knows their departments inside and out. They know who works well together and why, who excels under pressure, and who needs a little extra lead time but will always knock it out of the park.
Any manager’s job is made easier by having employees that are emotionally intelligent. When the team leader provides feedback, they don’t take it as personal affronts. They know their strengths and weaknesses and are eager to improve. This dynamic makes for really growth-oriented, high-performing companies because everyone speaks the same language and focuses on the same goals.
Self-selecting A players: When you curate a team of A players — highly motivated individuals who have a high IQ — you build a culture that tolerates nothing less than everyone giving their best. If someone lands a new position and quickly starts slacking off, their peers will let them know. They ask if there’s anything they can do to help and try to bring them up to speed. If that person continues to slack, the culture will force them out.
A team of high-functioning professionals won’t allow anyone to ride their coattails or slow their company’s progress. You see this at big companies, like Netflix and Google, that have cross-functioning teams. Whether in marketing, operations, or design, you need to work with people across departments who keep up with a high-level work pace. There’s no room for people who are unwilling to work as hard as everyone else.
Self-awareness: Emotionally intelligent people ask, “What do I need to do to be the best me that I can be today? And who can help me do that?” Then they look for opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and leaders who will help them get better. When that is part of the culture, progress happens very rapidly. Everyone witnesses their peers leveling up day after day, which motivates them to improve, too.
People-centered service: My company emphasizes emotional intelligence among all of our people, and it shows in our services. Our financial advisors don’t just work with clients based on their numbers. They get to know their goals, ambitions, and insecurities.
In other words, they see the world through the client’s eyes and empathize with their positions. Then they recommend investments and tax strategies based on what’s right for that client. Never once have we prioritized products or numbers over client profiles. Every member of our team knows that they must understand the client before they can advise them.
Emotional intelligence reverberates throughout an organization. By prioritizing EQ in your hires, you build a motivated, dynamic team that supports one another and ultimately drives the company’s success.