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Why are some people more successful in their careers than others?  

This question has preoccupied designers of business management courses for quite some time; but, despite their best efforts (and to their eternal frustration), the answer has not come by focusing on the acquisition of knowledge, academic qualifications, or degrees from the right schools.

A strong academic background, an advanced understanding of the principles of business, and an impressive skillset can certainly give you a leg up; but the best leaders and entrepreneurs seem to possess an ‘X-Factor’ that takes them to new levels and is elusive to others. In fact, many of the best entrepreneurs have rather modest academic backgrounds.

This ‘X-Factor’ could be seen as emotional intelligence. By understanding and developing your EQ (emotional quotient) you can set the right foundations for greater success in your career. Here’s why…

Why focus on EQ?

Throughout school, university, and beyond, the focus is very much on the measurable indicators of intelligence. IQ is a measure of one’s cognitive reasoning and is one important aspect of intelligence.

But more recently, the concept of emotional intelligence has come to the fore. Perhaps this is because the focus on purely cognitive abilities tipped the balance too far in the direction of IQ in business; other factors that contribute to success in life (whether in the area of personal, family, or social) were largely being ignored in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

By focusing more on this capacity, we start to redress the balance. We begin to consider less-measurable indicators of a person’s intelligence. And through these factors we gain a better understanding of why some people are incredibly successful leaders and entrepreneurs without the string of academic qualifications that many business school graduates can boast.

Almost every aspiring professional must interact with others in order to progress through their careers. So the ‘softer’, interpersonal skills of emotional intelligence are required by almost every successful person.

The reason why this can be problematical for some is that, while IQ is demonstrated rather easily on a CV, EQ is much more difficult to demonstrate. So what are its main recognisable qualities?

The qualities of emotional intelligence 

When we start to consider the types of qualities that emotional intelligence brings to a person, we begin recognising these qualities in successful leaders who we know in our own lives.

Think about the following qualities – and consider how someone in your own circle demonstrates each quality and how it has helped them achieve success in their lives:

Strong self-motivation

Emotionally-intelligent individuals are resilient, self-motivated, and will find a way to achieve what they want to achieve: not purely for monetary gain or kudos, but for some greater purpose that they are working towards. They will not be put off by roadblocks in the way or by ‘failure’ and do not rely on others to fuel their motivation.

High self-awareness and emotional stability

High EQ also leads to a sense of stability and emotional control. These people understand their emotions and will not act rashly upon the ‘triggers’ that often cause others to produce an emotional or stress response. They understand how they react in certain situations and are prepared for it. They also understand their own limitations and do not pretend to be the best at everything.

The ability to empathise

People with emotional intelligence often make good leaders because they are able to listen and empathise with others; because they understand their own emotions, they are able to recognise these emotions in others, and respond accordingly rather than just brushing them aside. They can see things from a variety of perspectives, which makes them more socially aware. Such people also often make good mediators in conflict situations.

Build strong relationships

Because of their strong ‘people skills’, emotionally intelligent people are able to connect and build strong relationships with others. They are open and honest, can build rapport easily, and identify with others in a mutually beneficial way. They avoid talking ill of others and treat other individuals with respect and trust. This not only improves teamwork but makes the workplace a better place to be.

Unlike IQ, which is geared towards personal qualities, emotional intelligence combines interpersonal qualities and is heavily focused on one’s ability to form close relationships, to thrive in social situations, and to make decisions that result in positive outcomes for all. Because of this, it is easy to see why emotional intelligence has become an important focus for developing people in any organisation.

It may just be the X-Factor you are looking for in your people. However, for many business leaders it’s difficult to know where to start…

If you’d like to discuss ways of introducing more emotional intelligence into your workplace then contact me for a quick chat.