I’m often asked about how emotional intelligence is being used in the workplace today. Why does it matter? Many organizations from Fortune 500 companies through to small not-for-profits are leveraging the benefits of EI by using assessment to determine any number of elements from organizational “fit” to leadership promotion or as part of a robust catalogue of professional development options. It is important to recognize that when using assessment as part of an organization’s decision-making platform they are likely using more then one type of assessment coupled with other data gathering methods (like questionnaires, interviews, prior work performance, etc.). More and more you will find EI is in the mix.
This points to emotional intelligence’s value in the workplace. To illustrate this in more of a day-to-day context think of someone you know who enjoys a high degree of professional success. Someone who seems to effortlessly find herself/himself on the right projects or teams, who clearly loves their work, who seemingly has little professional stress and handles herself/himself really well in meetings, navigating office politics effectively and who is well thought of by the majority of their colleagues. I know a handful of people like that – there are not very many. It is the “ideal” to be sure and while we seem to only see these individuals on their “best days” these professionals have the same hurdles and grief occurring in their work and careers as we do. So what is the difference?
Much of it has to do not only with how well they handle themselves, and being very self aware, but how effectively they handle the myriad types of information that are coming to them from other people. They can take in mood, context, pressing concerns, non-verbal body communication, verbal communication and many other bits and pieces of data and synthesize them in a time frame that works for others as well as themselves. That is the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace; being able to be present for ourselves, and for others, consistently creating an environment where everyone feels valued. Sound utopian? It is a bit and that is why most of us can only point to a few individuals who have completely mastered the complicated and nuanced environment that is the workplace today (and truthfully it doesn’t happen overnight, not even for the handful we know of). But the science is catching up with today’s workplace reality making assessment and coaching approachable and accessible to individuals and organizations alike. Is it going to fix every problem? Nope. Is it going to better equip us to face stress, change, tedium, duty and accomplishment in our careers with a positive outlook and professional energy? It offers that potential to everyone who invests in it.