Skip to main content

Emotional Intelligence

As we move forward with becoming Alaska’s first certified Sanctuary Program, we begin to explore each of its seven commitments or principles. We start first with emotional intelligence, one of these commitments.

So what does being emotionally intelligent mean? The easiest definition that I have come up with is knowing and managing our feelings so we don’t hurt ourselves or others. Put another way, knowing and managing our feelings so we can be successful in anything that we do. Given that most of us have average IQ’s and average talents and skills, the one factor that can make or break our success in whatever pursuit is emotional intelligence.

You don’t find emotional intelligence in job descriptions very often. Although you might guess that it would show up in organizations like ours, more than say, a manufacturing plant or other types of businesses. Then again, until Sanctuary came around I didn’t hear it much in our field either. That seems to be changing in the business world. Starting with the New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence, a little over 12 years ago, the business world seems to have woken up. Patrick Lencioni, another business author, clearly believes that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is even more valuable in an employee than IQ. When talking about the many employees of companies he and his consulting group deal with, he writes: “We observe supposedly brilliant and well-educated people struggle, while others with fewer obvious skill or attributes flourish. And we ask ourselves why? The answer almost always has to do with this concept called emotional intelligence.”

Not education. Not experience. Not knowledge or intellectual horse power but emotional intelligence in study after study comes up as the difference maker in the business of business. The latest book on the subject currently on the New York Times best seller list, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, seems to raise the value of emotional intelligence over both IQ and personality as the major driver between high performers and low performers in any field. In their study of 500,000 people, they found that 90% of high achievers at work also had high EQ’s, while on the flipside, when looking at low achievers at work, only 20% had high EQ’s. Leaving only one conclusion to be drawn, having high emotional intelligence is critical to being successful in almost anything we do.

We have to be good at identifying our own emotions – a task that Bradberry and Greaves found in only 36% of their test sample of 500,000 people. In their words, we have to develop the personal competence of self awareness and self management and the social competence of social awareness and relationship awareness. I believe that, for the most part, we are pretty good at this, but like everything, we need to practice, practice, and practice. Emotional Intelligence unlike IQ and personality, can be learned and the best way to learn about your EQ is practice.