You’ve always been the “mature” one in your circle of friends; maybe you were recognized and praised by a coach or teacher for being considerate, understanding, patient with your peers and calm under pressure.  Or, maybe no one really noticed.  Fortunately for those of us showing signs of EQ at an early age, growing research has shown a lifelong benefit from these previously dismissed traits.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is now acknowledged as an aptitude that can be measured similar to IQ.  And what researchers have learned as EQ is tracked and studied over time– is its importance to success, achievement and happiness over a lifetime.

What exactly IS the nefarious emotional intelligence, exactly?  Psychology Today defines EQ as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others including these 3 skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and cheer up or calm down another person.

Unfortunately, EQ has been the stepchild of IQ in our society.  For the most part, it hasn’t been specifically valued, identified or developed in childhood, schooling or early career training – leaving just IQ as the standard to measure potential success.  But now due to new research that is beginning to change.  Forbes Magazine reported that while a high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business, it is not adequate alone to predict executive competence and corporate success.

More studies reveal EQ as the missing link to success at work, and a consistent attribute of successful leaders.    Research from the Carnegie Institute of Technology reports that 85 percent of financial success is due to the EQ skills defined as “human engineering,” personality and the ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead – while only 15 percent of success is due to technical knowledge or skills alone.

But to fully understand EQ, its import to know what it is not.   As Dr. John D Mayer, Ph.D. explains, emotional intelligence is not just agreeableness or other personality traits like happiness, calmness, or motivation.  These qualities are still important and valuable in the workplace and in life, but aren’t the defining factor in emotional intelligence.   More specifically, EQ is divided into two main areas – personal intelligence and interpersonal intelligence, which break down into these characteristics:

  • self-regard and regard for others
  • self-awareness and awareness of others
  • emotional resilience, flexibility and trust
  • personal power – the belief that you are responsible for your outcomes in life, rather than being the victim of circumstances or other people

Studies have also shown that EQ tends to improve with age – which may be part of the reason people tend to predictably climb the corporate ladder in an age-related timeline.  Age helps us naturally mature to develop a more balanced outlook.

What’s helpful for us all to understand, whether you’re a student, new graduate entering the workforce, or even a mid-career professional – is that these traits are not only a positive predictor of your future success, but they are increasingly valued by organizations, screened for in the hiring process and can be continually developed and improved over time.