What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) An assortment of non-cognitive skills, capabilities and competencies that influences a person’s ability to cope with environmental demands and pressures.

People who understand their own emotions and are good at reading others’ emotions may be effective in their jobs. That, in essence is the theme of the underlying research on emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an assortment of non-cognitive skills, capabilities and competencies that influences a person’s ability to cope with the environmental demands and pressures. It’s composed of five dimensions.

1) Self awareness: Being aware of what you’re feeling.
2) Self management: The ability to manage your own emotions and impulses
3) Self motivation: The ability to persist in the face of setbacks and failures.
4) Empathy: The ability to sense how others are feeling.
5) Social skills: The ability to handle the emotions of others.

Several studies suggest EI may play an important role in job performance. For instance one study looked at the characteristics of the Bell Lab engineers who were rated as stars by their peers. The scientists concluded that these stars were better at relating to others, That is, it was, EI, not academic IQ that that characterized high performers. A second study of Air Force recruiters generated similar findings: Top performing recruiters exhibited high levels of EI. Using these findings, the Air Force revamped its selection criteria. A follow up investigation found that futures hires who had EI scores were 2.6 times more successful those with low scores. Organizations such as American Express have been found that implementing emotional intelligence programs has helped increase its effectiveness; with other organizations finding similar results that emotional intelligence contributes to team effectiveness. For instance at Cooperative Printing in Minneapolis a study of its 45 employees concluded that EI skills were twice as important in contributing to excellence as intellect and expertise alone. A poll of human resources managers asked this question: How important is it for you workers to demonstrate EI to move up the corporate ladder? Forty per cent of the managers replied very important. Another 16 per cent said moderately important. Other studies also indicated that emotional intelligence and be beneficial to quality improvements in contemporary organizations.

The implications from the initial EI evidence is that employers should consider emotional intelligence as a criterion in their selection process — especially for those jobs that demand of a high degree of a social interaction. The Tata Group, for instance identifies future leaders based on a combination of experience and emotional intelligence – self awareness, self management, self motivation, empathy and social skills.

Can personality traits predict work related behaviors?

Five specific traits have proven most powerful in explaining individual behavior in organizations. These are locus of control, Machiavellianism, self-esteem, self monitoring and risk propensity.

Locus of control: A personality attribute that measures the degree to which people believe that they are masters of their own fate.

Who has control over an individual’s behavior? Some people believe that they control their own fate. Others see themselves as pawns of fate, believing that what happens to them in their lives is due to luck or chance. The locus of control in the first case is internal. In the second case, it is external; these people believe that their lives are controlled by outside forces. A manager might also expect to find that externals blame a poor performance evaluation on their boss’s prejudice, their coworkers or other events outside their control whereas internals explain the same evaluation in terms of their own actions.

The second characteristic is called Machiavellianism (Mach) after Niccolo Machiavelli who provided instruction in the sixteenth century on how to gain and manipulate power. An individual who is high in Machiavellianism is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance believes that needs can justify means, and is found to have beliefs that are less ethical. The philosophy if it works use it is consistent with a high Mach perspective. Do high Machs make good employees? That answers depends on the type of job and whether you consider ethical implications in evaluating performance. In jobs that require bargaining skills (a labor negotiator) or that have substantial rewards for winning (a commissioned salesperson), high Machs are productive. In jobs in which ends do not justify the means or that lack absolute standards of performance it is difficult to predict the performance of high Machs.