The Velvet Mind - Article  
    Emotional Intelligence    


The importance of emotional intelligence

    For centuries, emphasis has been placed on academic learning, qualifications and how intelligent a person was, i.e.: their IQ. Anything emotional was encouraged to stay hidden behind the "stiff upper lip" rather than being acknowledged and expressed. Attending "the school of hard knocks" was character forming. When employee training was introduced in the business world, the programmes focused on areas relating to reason and logic - anything to do with interpersonal relationships was wishy-washy and classed as soft skills.

However all this is changing and not before time. The advances in neuroscience and brain imaging techniques have enabled scientists to confirm what we all suspected - that when we are confronted by situations that are life threatening or that we "perceive" are so, reason and logic fly out the window and what emerges is a primitive, ready-to-fight Neanderthal in modern day attire. The section of the brain responsible for this instant bypass is the amygdala, hence the new term "the amygdala hijack".

So for the first time, the importance of emotions has been acknowledged. What we need to ensure is that those emotions are appropriate to the circumstances and to do this we need to develop emotional intelligence, which researchers now consider to be far more important than traditional IQ.

Take for example, a group of senior managers applying for a top position. They might all have MBAs but who will make the most successful leader? The answer: the person with the highest level of EI - the person able to create resonance with others, to display empathy and be an inspiring leader without being a traditional autocrat. Conversely, in research undertaken by Hay/McBer and Goleman, the two main reasons found for key executive failure were:

Rigidity (unable to adapt or take on board feedback and learn). Poor relationships (alienating others) Daniel Goleman, who has pioneered much of the information about Emotional Intelligence, categorises E1 into four main headings: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Relationship Management and Social Awareness. These are then subdivided into a total of 18 competencies, with each competency containing a number of checklist criteria. For example the competencies within Self-Awareness are Emotional self-awarenss, Accurate self assessment and Self-confidence. The checklist criteria under Emotional self-awareness being:

-Are attuned to their inner signals - Recognise how their feelings affect them and their job performance - Are attuned to their guiding values - Can often intuit the best course of action because in a complex situation, they see bigger picture - Tend to be candid and authentic, speaking openly about their emotions or with conviction about their guiding vision.

An effective business leader will display strengths from at least one of each of the sub categories.

So a good starting point is to become more self-aware. This will mean that we can manage our emotions more effectively, learn to communicate more authentically, take ownership of what we think and say, develop empathy and respect difference. The end result is that we feel more empowered and the knock-on effect of that can only be positive.


Andersen Counselling & Advice, Chelmsford, Essex UK.
Andersen Counselling 2005-2011. All rights reserved. Created by CWD

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