The Insight: According to author and psychologist Daniel Goldman “emotional intelligence (EQ) accounts for 80 percent of career success.” Do you know without a shadow of a doubt that your interpersonal communications are effective, or does your EQ often times fail you? Are you effective in your communications, do you have an accurate self-assessment, and do you also manage interpersonal conflict well? Life, business, family and friendships are a juggling act of varied emotions. One’s emotional intelligence is the lifeline keeping it all together.

Why is emotional intelligence misunderstood, and what is it?

Recent research by The Economist Executive Education Navigator of more than 4,000 professionals showed that most executives don’t see themselves like their employees see them. Ironically, these executives are constantly seeking self-improvement, but they are focusing on all of the wrong areas: Executives most frequently cited that technology and finance are two themes they wanted to improve, while employees ranked leadership, emotional intelligence, and other softer skills as a priority that constantly needs development.

“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” according to Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Gardner’s work has uncovered five streams of emotional intelligence skills that allow you to thrive and engage others effectively. The five themes include:

  1. Self-Awareness: Everyone must understand how they affect others to be successful. We all want to feel confident when working with a leader, and when they are sending mixed signals, or they are disengaging, confidence lacks.
  2. Self-Regulation: Leaders must practice self-control, and must have strong impulse control. You can’t say anything you want, to anyone, any time you want. People want predictability, not chaos from leadership.
  3. Motivation: Organizations need trustworthiness, clear standards, honesty and integrity to thrive. Leaders who bring authentic inspiration create an atmosphere for growth and creativity. They motivate because they don’t create fear within their team.
  4. Empathy: Being conscientious of emotions and political challenges while developing others and stretching them to new heights is a pillar of strong EQ. It is a trait that trumps IQ every time.
  5. Social Skills: In a high performing, heavy stress environment, it matters how well you listen, develop peer friendship, solve problems, build trusting bonds, and team-up with others. Good “people skills” are the glue that holds teams and cultures together. It is why people stay together.

Psychologists generally agree that IQ accounts for between 10% and 25% of a person’s success, while everything else, including EQ, depends on how accurately they perceive themselves and impact others.

Every time we don’t demonstrate self-control we set ourselves up to be misjudged. All of us utilize mental shortcuts and judge behavior based on actions under pressure. High EQ is the understanding of that truth and building the proper relationships day in, day out.

The more you pay attention to your own emotions, the more you increase your overall effectiveness and influence.

Does your emotional intelligence fail you?