"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Emotional Intelligence in Business

In 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer, two North American psychologists, named and formed a concept that is nowadays essential in families, relationships, education, health and, of course, business. This concept is nothing less than emotional intelligence, one of the many types of intelligence, and perhaps one of the most important to develop. It is essential that companies help their employees enhance their emotional intelligence, since work is a critical element of people’s lives and many individuals spend a large part of their time at the workplace.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the human capacity to feel, understand, control and modify our own and other people’s emotional states. It’s commonly said that an “emotionally intelligent person” possesses five different abilities.

1. Self-conscience: self-confidence, poise and belief in their activities
2. Auto-regulation: self-control, reliability, responsibility, adaptation and innovation.
3. Motivation: achievement, compromise, initiative and optimism.
4. Empathy: the understanding of others, the development of others, orientation towards service, taking advantage of diversity and social comprehension.
5. Social abilities: influence, communication, leadership, stimulation of change, conflict resolution, establishing connections, collaboration, cooperation and teamwork abilities.

These abilities acquire a transcendental role in companies, since they allow employees to perform their functions efficiently and effectively, both internally and externally. Thus, emotions determine the level of performance we are capable of executing, in addition to determining the type of relationships we will maintain with our subordinates, superiors and equals. This implies that emotions mold the nature of leaders (or followers) that we will become, as well as our level of adaptability and capability for teamwork. Emotions determine how we respond, communicate, behave and function at work and in life.

Emotional intelligence describes complementary, but different, attitudes of academic and cognitive intelligence. This means that a person with excellent academic preparation, with vast technical and conceptual knowledge, might be leaded by an individual with less skill and preparation, but with a higher emotional intelligence coefficient. Moreover, our emotions can provide valuable information about ourselves and about other people. Furthermore, they reflect the situations to which we are exposed.

Human resource managers and direct supervisors should make sure that employees are motivated and pleased with their jobs. Consequently, these will serve the client well and perform their functions effectively. This way, the client is satisfied, the company accomplishes its objective and the employees are content. In order to attain this ideal business environment, managers are required to inculcate values to the personnel and orient them towards the company’s goals, in addition to introducing communication, teamwork and empathy into the company’s culture. In order for this to become a reality, managers should lead by example and be emotionally stable, so they can help the employees develop their own emotional intelligence through programs designed for this purpose. The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University offers excellent information and proven successful programs on enhancing emotional intelligence in organizations and businesses.

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