Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Career Development
By Sharon Graham.
In your practice, you may have encountered clients who consistently have difficulty acquiring and securing good opportunities. Despite having all the required qualifications, they can’t seem to get ahead in their careers. Yet, other people with little education or experience land jobs and promotions more easily. There’s something about their “personal presence” that makes it easier for them to develop and manage their careers. It just might be that competencies related to Emotional Intelligence make the biggest difference in their career progression and performance.
Employers value emotional intelligence because it enhances workplace outcomes. Many well-reputed employers in all sectors invest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) training and Emotional Quotient (EQ) testing as part of their recruitment and retention initiatives. Companies like Microsoft, Pepsi, Dow Chemical, Verizon, Xerox, and Starbucks know that by instituting EI within their corporate culture they will improve overall performance.
It’s no wonder that researchers have found Emotional Intelligence to be a good predictor of career success. It seems that workers who just do their jobs are satisfactory, but the ones who have personal and social awareness do much better. It makes sense that an employee who has robust integrity, insight, teamwork, and leadership skills will be more effective than one who does not.
While it may not be possible to change a client’s personality, you can enable him to improve his EQ over time. Your goal is to help your clients become more aware of their own emotions and those of others. By becoming more self-aware, your client can learn to manage his response and behaviour in stressful situations. By becoming more cognizant and intuitive about the emotions of others, your clients can form stronger social and business relationships.
EI is the foundation for personal competencies, or “soft skills.” By putting the spotlight on these competencies, you can help your clients to think differently, build self-confidence, become more motivated, and change their behaviours. Here are some specific soft skills on which every client can build:
- Personal Accountability
- Ethics and Integrity
- Decision Making
- Conflict Resolution
- Flexibility and Adaptability
Here are some “best practices” to consider when applying EI to your client support:
- If a client seems intelligent, don’t automatically assume that he has a high EQ. Conversely, if a client lacks education or experience don’t guess that his EQ is low. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is not the same as Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Treat each client as an individual and perform an objective assessment to determine that person’s individual strengths and specific competencies that may require attention.
- Some occupations, such as employment counsellors, life coaches, social workers, or nurses, need a higher degree of EI than others. Moreover, having a high degree of EI can sometimes negatively affect job performance. For example, if a job is heavily focused on repetitive tasks with little interaction with others, someone with a high EQ might become unfocused and unproductive. Always consider your client’s target market and its “soft skill” requirements.
- It is quite difficult for most clients to leverage EI when they are going through stressful situations such as a job search. However, if they apply themselves, they will have a much better chance of making a successful career transition. Through consistent coaching, training, and positive reinforcement, you can help your client to move forward effectively.
- There are many free quizzes available on the Internet which can give clients some insight. Although they can be entertaining, they should not be taken completely at “face” value. Online quizzes can easily be manipulated; rather than answering honestly about yourself, it is just as easy to select the response that you know is “right.” EI testing requires a deep understanding of the field. If you feel that your client needs to be tested, refer him to an experienced, certified, and qualified practitioner.
Raising EQ does not happen overnight, but it can be increased with practice and support. Improvement takes time, focus, consistency, and commitment.
I would like to hear from you. What tools and techniques do you use to enhance your client’s Emotional Intelligence? Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in Career Professionals of Canada’s Certification Study Guides. Learn much more about how you can enhance these soft skills and many others through CPC’s self-study certification programs.