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Just a few basics!

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the proficiency to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence requires at least five skills.  The most critical are the ability to identify emotions both in yourself and in others, the ability to focus emotions and apply them to tasks, and the ability to regulate your and others’ emotions.    

Emotional Intelligence can be described as a confluence of five competencies:

  1.      Awareness and Self-awareness. The ability to identify, recognize and understand your emotions and the reactions and those of others.
  2.      Application. The ability to harness, manage, control and adapt your emotions and reactions so they can be applied to tasks like thinking and problems solving.
  3.      Motivation. The ability to use emotions to motivate ourselves and others to take action.
  4.      Empathy. The ability to be aware of and understand the feelings and emotions of others and use that understanding to relate to others effectively.
  5.      Relationships. The ability to construct relationships with others to lead, and facilitate work as an integral part of a team or teams.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important in IT Organizations?

In IT, value is driven by the confluence of people, process, and technology.  Over the years, much of the improvement industry focus has been on processes and technology, but the focus has now turned to people. Today’s IT environment is people and team focused.   The Fast Company article, Why Emotionally Intelligent People Are More Successful, quoted the Carnegie Institute of Technology research.

“The Carnegie Institute of Technology carried out research that showed that 85% of our financial success was due to skills in “human engineering”, personality, and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead.”

Given the importance of people in the “people, process and technology deliver value” equation, we need the best people possible in order to improve. Holding other capabilities equal, people with the attributes that define emotional intelligence have more tools than people without those attributes. Emotionally intelligent personnel tend to have better mental well-being based on better emotional self-awareness.  This is often reflected as a more positive attitude, which motivates others to work with them and increases team cohesiveness. The ability to read, understand and empathize with the emotions of others improves conflict resolution and negotiation skills which are useful in any scenario where two or more people work together.  

In addition to greater attitude, empathy and conflict resolution, people with higher levels of emotional intelligence are often claimed to be better leaders. The relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership is built on leveraging the ability to understand emotions and use those emotions as a tool to recognize the needs others and then to use those emotions to motivate the team.  The popular literature is replete with articles extolling the virtues of emotional intelligence and leadership.  We will circle back to what the academic literature suggests later in the theme.

Emotional intelligence makes people more “likable.”  The Fast Company article referenced Daniel Kahneman’s research that  ”found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if that person is offering a better product at a lower price.” Emotional intelligence helps people connect, which is powerful in its own right.