Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

‘Emotional Intelligence’ has become a bit of a buzz word in recent years as many researchers and HR experts have started stressing the importance of harnessing and building Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. The World Economic Forum even included Emotional Intelligence in its top 10 skills that we will need to possess to thrive in the workplace of 2020 - it didn’t even feature in the top 10 in 2015! So, what exactly is Emotional Intelligence and how can it play a role in your business?

What is it?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as a concept was first detailed in an article in 1990 by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, but Daniel Goleman is recognised as the subject guru publishing a book titled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ in 1995. While there are several EQ models and theories, EQ primarily involves recognising, understanding and managing our own and others emotions and how we can influence these. The main strands are therefore: self-awareness and self-management, motivation, empathy and social skills, such as being able to manage relationships and build networks.

Personal competence is about your self-awareness and self-management skills whereas social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills. While some may be people naturally more emotionally intelligent, anyone can acquire these skills and develop high levels of emotional intelligence.

In the workplace, EQ is about how people and relationships function within the bushiness and with customers, suppliers, stakeholders, potential employees, competitors, networking contacts – basically everyone a business comes into contact with.

Organisational Success

EQ is applicable to every human interaction in business, and it stands to reason that a business in which the staff are emotionally intelligent is one where they work well together. This improves effectiveness and performance when everyone is pulling in the same direction. When we drive emotions positively as leaders we bring out the best in everyone and this effect is called resonance. The growing body of research proves that better collaboration and a more fulfilling and supportive workplace increases an organisation’s success, whatever measurements you have in place.


While you can’t predict EQ based on how intelligent someone is, it has proven to be a good predictor of performance and a strong driver of leadership in the workplace. Leaders skilled at understanding and managing emotions can help foster and build good working relationships. These leaders also enable us to create and cultivate environments where teams feel valued and strive to do their best. As such, it is good to take the time to reflect on our own emotions, and the way we react when things go well and not so well, and what we say and do.

Resolving Conflict

Every day of our working lives we all must make decisions to get the job done or the best outcome. When conflict arises, those with high emotional intelligence may be better able to control their own emotional responses, look at the situation from all perspectives, and seek more equitable solutions.

As business owners and managers, your people respond to your leadership style and to look to you as their role models so it’s worth reminding ourselves of that so that we can all play to your strengths. Daniel Goleman references Harvard Business School research demonstrating that EQ counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined when determining success. So, it’s worth finding out more about the different leadership styles that you can cultivate as part of this.

Should you have further questions or would like more information around integrating HR best practice with your organisation’s strategic objectives, please contact your ESV on 9283 1666.