Learning Lab

Emotional Intelligence; why all the fuss?

Popularised by Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence is continuing to take centre stage in many organisations. Goleman believes, based on much research, that EI is often the difference between a good leader and a great leader. Many organisations have, over the years, been curious about the claims made by EI and the logical approach it takes. Johnson & Johnson are one such company.

J&J research

They undertook a big research program to see if their high performing leaders were in fact more emotionally intelligent. They found that the leaders who were their highest performers (they scored performance ratings of 4.1 or greater on a 5-point scale) were indeed rated significantly higher in all four of the emotional intelligence dimensions. These include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills.

In a study concluded by McClelland where leaders from 30 different organisations it was found that the most powerful leadership differentiators were self-confidence, achievement drive, developing others, adaptability, influence and leadership. The Johnson & Johnson study found similar competencies to distinguish their high performers in self-confidence, achievement orientation, initiative, leadership, influence & change catalyst.

To many it comes as no surprise that there were some gender differences noted, but perhaps that these differences were not huge overall or across the board did surprise some. According to BarOn analysis of over 77,000 people who took the Emotion Quotient Inventory there wasn’t an overall difference on total EI between men and women. However women scored higher on empathy, interpersonal relationships and social responsibility and men higher on self-actualisation, assertiveness, stress tolerance, impulse control and adaptability.

So what does this mean?

This study, combined with many, many others lead us to seeing that there is a strong business case for understanding and utilising emotional intelligence. A company will improve their bottom line if they improve their employee’s emotional intelligence. This is a bold statement but it is backed up many studies.

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