Why emotional intelligence is beneficial in the workplace
If you have been working for the last 3 or 4 years, you will already have discovered that most of your colleagues are as smart and hardworking as you are. You probably have already discovered that your distinguished technical skills — whether it’s in banking, sales, law, consulting or accounting — are common among your colleagues. You probably are in the process of learning that the key to being successful must be something else.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned that the critical distinguishing factor for advancing in the any career is emotional intelligence (EQ). Without EQ, it’s likely that you will be your firm’s “best-kept secret” — not recognized, not appreciated, not promoted and, often, not properly compensated. EQ is one of the biggest predictors of performance in the workplace and a strong driver of leadership and personal excellence. As Daniel Goleman wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Without EQ, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.” It is therefore pertinent for any young executives who would like to accelerate their careers to develop their EQ.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to monitor your own and other people’s emotions, to distinguish between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use this information to guide your thinking and behavior. EQ is exhibited in adaptability and empathy, it is practiced through listening, remaining calm and resilient in the face of problems, it is seen in valuing and helping colleagues, and connecting and empathizing with clients. I’ve found that, in the workplace, it is about your relationships:
- Your relationship with yourself (self-awareness)
- Your relationships with your colleagues (collaboration)
- Your relationships with your clients (empathy)
As part of the Lapid Leaders Young Executives, we will explore each one of these and assess how you can develop your EQ.
Using EQ to Advance Your Career
When I started my career, I knew that I was a talented individual. I had all the right technical qualifications for my job and a head that could think on its feet. However, one of my supervisors constantly told me that talent is overrated and even shared the book here. At the time, this sounded scandalous and even offensive to my talent. I was convinced that my supervisor was the problem.
However, over time I realized that the process of excelling early in your career involves realizing that while brains and hard work got you in the door, you now have to focus on learning from others and being so self-aware that you are able to adapt to new environments easily, very collaborative so that you are able to engage with those who will propel your career forward but perhaps most important, a keen listener who heard what was said and even what was not said. While at the start of my career I was all about my performance and was even offended by any system that incalculated different perspectives, over time I learned the value of a high level of EQ and the corresponding value of networking.
While networking can be beneficial at any point in one’s career, it can especially help young executives find mentors who can change their career trajectories. Networking is key to identifying new opportunities and advancing your career. It can help transform you from being relatively unknown in your firm to being a well-known contributor with a diversified career portfolio, multiple advocates, and a range of opportunities.
Most of the best tips I received throughout my career came from acquaintances in my network rather than from people with whom I was close. So don’t wait until you need something to build your network. Take a long-term view. You want to cultivate networking relationships over time, so that they will be there when you need them.
Networking is just one example. EQ as a core skill matters now more than ever, because work has changed in ways that favor emotional competence and soft skills. We will talk about these and other skills at the LYEP. At the end of the program, you’ll be able to set yourself apart from your peers and build a life and career that is successful and satisfying. You can sign up here.