Emotional intelligence (commonly referred to as EI or EQ) as a buzz word is on the rise. We see talk of EI popping up in articles and social posts everywhere from revered sources of advice including Simon Sinek, the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the list goes on…

Despite the talk of emotional intelligence surrounding us, many struggle to define the term, which means we also don’t do a good job of integrating emotionally intelligent behavior into our business practices as essential competencies or must have skills. We struggle to recognize it, label it, and assess it at work when interacting with others, creating development and/or performance plans for leaders, and hiring new employees within our organizations.

So let’s get clear on what it is. Emotional intelligence as defined by Genos International, a leading provider of EI assessments and development programs, “Emotional Intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is a set of skills that help us better perceive, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and in others. Collectively they help us make intelligent responses to, and use of, emotions. These skills are as important as your intellect (IQ) in determining success in work and in life. Everyone, no matter what job function, has interactions with other people. Your capacity to understand your emotions, to be aware of them and how they impact the way you behave and relate to others, will improve your ‘people‘ skills and help you ultimately be more satisfied and successful.”

Reading that definition and accepting that we all have emotions that impact our behavior, how could anyone refute the importance of emotional awareness and management in the workplace in order to foster healthy relationships and dynamics and to improve employee satisfaction? Many of us are unfortunately all too familiar with the opposite; how detrimental toxic Managers or employees can be. Therefore, the importance of EI seems to be almost common sense, hence why there is an emergence of data and research exploding onto the scene proving this exact point.

Circling back to the World Economic Forum’s publication for a moment, here is their list of the top 10 skills you need to thrive in 2020:

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility

What’s really interesting about this list beyond the obvious (EI at #6) emotional intelligence actually underpins all of the others on the list. For instance, your people management and negotiation skills and your ability to coordinate with others, really depend largely in part on your emotional awareness, management, and reasoning abilities. That being said, I would argue that emotional intelligence is the MOST important skill to have and develop within the workplace of both now and of the future.

So what does all of this mean for you as an organization? If you aren’t strategically assessing EI in your recruitment efforts, developing the EI of your leaders, and using the language of EI internally as part of your culture, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to build a thriving organization and enhance the lives of your employees. Here’s the good news (drumroll please…) it’s never to late to do something about it! What’s really amazing about EI is the extensive body of research showing that it isn’t a fixed quotient like IQ. Just like fitness, the beauty of EI is that it can be improved upon! With the right coaching and effort, emotionally intelligent behavior can be learned.

The takeaway, if you want to be a best place to work, if you want to enhance the lives of your employees, if you want to recruit, attract and retain top performers, if you want a thriving culture in your organization, consider strategically investing in emotional intelligence initiatives as we move into 2020. Want to know how? Contact me [email protected].