Why you need emotional intelligence to succeed

BUSINESS CLASSIC: Psychologist Daniel Goleman showed why self-awareness and social deftness matter more than brainpower.

by Stefan Stern
Last Updated: 30 Aug 2016

Brains are best, right? We want 'the smartest guys in the room' to be in charge, don't we? Such views held sway in business in the past, and probably still do in many places. And yet 20 years ago a psychologist called Daniel Goleman dared to suggest it was not IQ that was decisive in people's success, but their EQ, or emotional intelligence.

EQ is not simply about empathy. It does not mean that the person who cares most wins. Emotional intelligence involves the mastery of our responses, and recognises that self-awareness, 'impulse control', motivation, 'social deftness' and persistence matter as much as sheer computational brainpower.

The book showed how such sensitivity to the situation and to others could make the difference between winning and losing, and even between life and death. Take flight crews on aeroplanes, for example. Macho, hierarchical cultures - such as some Latin American ones - can make a cockpit a dangerous place, as errors or danger may not get flagged up. The safest flight crew? Aussies, of course. They say what they think and don't care if the boss is offended.

Tact is not for softies, and showing compassion does not make you a loser. Develop stronger EQ and put it to work if you want to come out on top.

Emotional Intelligence - Why it Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman, Bantam, 1995

Stefan Stern is visiting professor at Cass Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @StefanStern


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