The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ was coined by scholars in the early 1990’s and has since come to rank sixth in the World Economic Forum’s list of the top 10 skills employees need to thrive in the workplace. The modern work environment has evolved drastically since the inception of digital technology and has become strongly characterised by open communication and teamwork. Characteristics and skills that encapsulate what it means to be ‘Emotional Intelligent’.

What is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the capacity to understand and manage your emotions as well as to perceive the emotions of others. EQ has been defined by 5 important elements:

  1. Self-awareness: understanding yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, values and your impact on other people. This would come across as self-confidence and a drive for constructive criticism.
  2. Self-management: your ability to control impulses and moods and not letting emotions cripple rational thought.
  3. Motivation: emotionally intelligent people can motivate themselves irrespective of the gain (such as money or title). They enjoy achievement for its own sake and have a passion and optimism for the work they do.
  4. Empathy: the ability to understand other people’s emotional state and consider their feelings.
  5. Social Skills: the ability to build and manage relationships with workers and influence them in the desired direction.

Everyone possesses varying levels of Emotional Intelligence, which is why companies have placed more emphasis on first assessing these elements before hiring.

A survey found that 71% of hiring managers said they valued an employee’s emotional intelligence over their IQ and 75% said they were more likely to promote an employee with a high Emotional Intelligence.

The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace include:

  1. Stronger leadership skills
  2. Improved Negotiation skills
  3. Developing a greater self-awareness
  4. Increased levels of inner resilience
  5. Achieving a greater work-life balance

An emotionally intelligent leader has the capacity to effectively communicate and listen to their employees, manage difficult situations while remaining optimistic and calm, be empathetic and inspire the best out of their work team.

The result of a high emotional intelligence therefore also plays an important role on employee performance.

Employees are more likely to admit and learn from their mistakes, improve on their conflict resolution skills, take criticism well, remain calm under pressure and make better thought-out business decisions. All these factors play a role in improving the job performance of your workforce.

How to develop Emotional Intelligence?

We have discussed the elements and importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, but how does one go about improving your skills? It is vital to take more time to self-assess and work on your emotions.

  • Learn to listen: focus when your client or colleague is telling you something. This builds trust and better relationships
  • Establish Boundaries: This relates to knowing when to filter out negative emotions/influences coming from colleagues or clients.
  • Work on your own Happiness: Try to establish a healthy life-work balance by investing in the things that feed your soul. This would be hobbies you enjoy and that fill your bucket of positivity.
  • Keep track of your Emotions: Be aware of your emotions during the day and how they impact your response to others.

While a job for many older generations was simply a means to earn an income, workers today are seeking more fulfillment and purpose from their roles at the office. This affects the accompanying emotional requirements for success and productivity and instills the need to seriously consider Emotional Intelligence when creating a workforce that is engaged, committed and thriving.

Join us at the ALA for a workshop on understanding, measuring and improving your EQ. Visit to see upcoming dates.