Emotional Intelligence Contribution to Career Success

Discussions about emotional intelligence (EQ) and its impact on the success of a career first surfaced in the 1990s.  Daniel Golemanconcluded while conducting research for his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence that 67% of all abilities associated with strong job performance were related to emotional intelligence.

Since Goleman’s provocative findings there has been mounting evidence of the impact of emotional intelligence on the success of a career, and the favorable financial performance of organizations.  The results of different research studies vary slightly, but the overwhelming conclusion is that EQ is the most important factor in determining career success.

Based on a number of recent studies, experts believe a successful career is determined by:

  • 25% general intelligence (IQ)
  • 10% – 20% technical competency
  • 55% – 65% emotional intelligence (EQ)

Organizations of all types need to consider these research findings and the fact that the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report has recognized emotional intelligence as a job skill.  The report also indicates EQ will become one of the top 10 job skills by 2020.

The financial benefits of an emotionally intelligent culture are vast.  All key performance indicators are favorably impacted when employees have strong EQ.  Here is an example.

A powerful study by Benjamin Palmer and Sue Jennings demonstrates that the skills of emotional intelligence are worth over $2 million per month.At Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical company, a group of salespeople was randomly split into a control and development group. The development group received emotional intelligence training and increased their EQ by 18% (on average), after which they out-sold the control group by an average of 12%, or $55,200 each x 40 reps = 2,208,000.00 per month better. The company calculated that they made $6 for every dollar they invested in the training.

So, what is emotional intelligence?  EQ is the ability to be aware of, control and express emotions and handle relationships empathetically.  With high EQ we can recognize and control our own emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence helps us identify our preferences in decision-making, successfully purse goals and persuade others for or against an idea.

The elements of EQ include self-awareness, self-management, social skills and relationship management.  Individuals with high EQ often seek feedback from others on these elements.  They then self-evaluate to determine their strengths and opportunities for improvement.  With this deeper self-knowledge, high EQ individuals experience:

  • Greater confidence
  • Heightened creativity
  • Sounder decision-making
  • Stronger relationships
  • Effective communication

Like technical expertise, we must deeply study to develop strong emotional intelligence.  The learning starts with a commitment to self-reflection in order to honestly view our current behaviors, our impact on others and the need to make changes.

How would you assess your EQ?

  • Self-Awareness: How do you show up for work?  Would your colleagues agree with your self-assessment?
  • Self-Management: Do you factually debate an opinion without getting emotionally charged?
  • Social Skills: How well do you relate to your co-workers?
  • Relationship Management: Are you investing adequate time to build collaborative and productive work relationships?

After a first read, the answers to these questions may seem simple, with a high probability of positive responses.  But with deeper thought, many individuals often uncover behaviors or language used that can be interpreted differently than intended by others.  By strengthening our emotional intelligence, we are able to avoid creating unknown barriers to career success.

1Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half, with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries.

2Jennings, S. and Palmer, B (2007), Enhancing Sales Performance Through Emotional Intelligence Development, Organisations & People, May 2007, Vol 14. No 2, and personal correspondence with Dr. Palmer. The salespeople in the study were selected because all were in the in the same revenue band starting at $460k/mo in sales.