Does Emotional Intelligence Really Matter?

Within the past few years, emotional intelligence (EI), mindfulness, and related practices have been garnering a lot of attention; in publications, on social media platforms, as workshops and trainings, as well as being put into practice in the workplace. As an organization built on EI, these actions and protocols are built into our foundation at EFBC. So, we’ve been excited to see so many others embracing what we know EI can bring to business owners, businesses and employees. You’re still skeptical? Keep reading.

What is emotional intelligence, really? The Institute for Health and Human Potential defines it as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions, and recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

As a community of business owners, entrepreneurs and key employees, EFBC has always believed that EI is an essential quality for leaders. We often say it is not about being emotional but about being intelligent about your emotions, and the emotions of others. EI skills make an impact in a wide variety of situations but especially in moments where leadership can be most challenging, including:

  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Resolving conflict
  • Motivating others
  • Navigating change
  • Collaborating with your team, not just leading it

Some still consider these “soft skills” as, well, soft and unnecessary in the world of business, but the research on EI shows otherwise. Being able to show empathy, effectively using listening skills, and being self-aware are hard-hitting traits that heighten how others respond to you in the workplace, especially as you recruit and retain younger team members. A 2017 study from the Levo Institute found that 87% of millennials are motivated by the EI of their leaders to help the company succeed. And the even better news is that they mimic those traits, spreading the impact of EI throughout your organization. The same survey from the Levo Institute found that 80% of employees consider their own EI imperative for developing their careers.

Looking for even “harder” metrics around increasing profitability due to EI? Since humans are complex beings, direct correlations of, “Practice EI # times to see profits improve by x%,” will never be available. To determine the ROI of EI, leaders must determine the outcomes of practicing EI within the specifics of their organizations. Here’s a few items to get you started:

  • Numerous studies tell us team members leave because of “bad” bosses or stressful working environments. What does recruiting new team members cost you, especially in today’s fight for talent? What is retaining your top team members worth to your company?
  • American Express tested EI competence training for their Financial Advisors; EI trained advisors increased business 18.1% compared to 16.2% for a control group. What would a 2% gain in your sales team performance mean to you?
  • In a survey conducted for entrepreneurs in 2020, more than 95% stated that EI in leadership is more important than IQ. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur, every one of us is leading our organizations through a time of tremendous change. What does succeeding in those efforts mean to you? For many, it is the difference between sustaining and shuttering.

Emotional intelligence is a foundational pillar of EFBC, leading our members to become better listeners, concise communicators, and experts of empathy through continual practice. Our members use every EFBC interaction, from Forum meetings to Roundtable discussions to casual conversations, as safe practice fields to continually develop their EI skills. They then bring those EI skills back to their offices and their homes, making challenges easier to overcome and creating stronger connections with employees and family members. To learn more about how the EFBC community practices EI, you can download our whitepaper, “Four Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Transform Your Life.”

One more note: As we all navigate towards what is hopefully the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, EI is more important now than ever. Leaders who can manage their own emotional responses to a crisis and show empathy for those around them are incredibly effective. Curious about where your EI skills are currently? See where you fall on the EI scale by taking this quiz from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Then call or email us to discuss how together we can make you an even stronger EI leader!