Columbia University

Emotional Intelligence Steering the Business World

I have no doubt whatever that most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small proportion of their possible consciousness … much like a man who, out of his whole bodyily organism, should get into the habit of using and moving only his little finger … We all have reservoirs of life to draw upon, of which we do not dream! – William James

People often wonder, what emotions has got to do with intelligence? If one is intelligent, he / she is intelligent, why would someone like to get into emotional nitty gritties and complicate life? Are not emotions for the weak minded? Well, am sure many of us do feel like that. Someone once told me, if you meet people in high school reunions, you would realize that the ones you considered the smartest might not be doing that great in life and the ones, who were popular, got along with people and were positive about life in general irrespective of their grades, are doing amazingly well in life. So what is it that sets these people apart?

The most distant roots of this puzzle can be traced back to Darwin's early work on the importance of emotional expression for survival and adaptation. In 1920 EL Thorndike at Columbia University, used the term social intelligence to describe the skill of understanding and managing other people which he believed is reason for performance and success.

The term emotional intelligence was coined by Salovey and Mayer in 1990 but it earned popularity after Daniel Goleman published his famous book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ" in 1995. Since then the term has been used more commonly than ever.

Previously it was assumed that emotional intelligence, which can not be measured since it revolves around emotions which themselves can never be quantified or be ever measured in any tangible form. By definition, "Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), describing an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups". It is a relatively new area of ​​psychological research. The definition of EI is constantly changing.

Context of EI in workplaces is again a new area which is gaining popularity. Managers often think that they should be impassive and unemotional, and encourage their employees to be the same. But emotions drive performance, and bosses who do not acknowledge their own and others' temperaments can not inspire the best work from their staffs – or even motivate themselves. This view was recently corroborated by Wall street journal under the article 'Business is Personal', and indeed it is, because whether we like it or not, face it or not, we do not leave behind our emotions in a suitcase, we carry them all the time. Its now, slowly companies are realizing the power of emotions in steering an organization towards its goal of sustainable business growth.

As Zuboff says, People have to stop thinking of their feelings as irrelevant and messy and realize that they are in fact highly differentiated nuance patterns of reaction and noble sources of information. We will only know what to do by realizing what feels right to us; attention is our most precious resource. Feelings are the body's version of their situation; Everything that we want to know about our situation is disclosed. The switch for business people comes when they realize what they thought was soft is hard and what they thought was hard is often arbitrary! In this sense feelings are guides to the big issues like where am I going?

The field of Emotional Intelligence was always under the skeptical's radar since there were no tools to measure it. However last two decades have seen explosive work in this field and there are now very comprehensive tools being developed to measure the same. However one must remember., At the end of day, its not magic, its emotions- it would require slow and steady approach, but once you do improve in various EI competencies, the benefits would be fundamental and ground breaking, unlike any other improvement programs ..

"Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy" – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

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