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What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Do You Need It to Succeed?

What is emotional intelligence and why do you need it – answer this question and you can hone your EQ skills and become a leader who excels in any field.One of the things I love about my community of women leaders is their passion for finding (and sharing) new resources that help them pursue personal excellence. One of the most important resources you’ll ever find is defining and improving your emotional intelligence quotient. What is that?

Firstly, let me ask you…if you had to pick one over the other, which do you think are the more important skills you can have – learning the “how to” technical skills or the “why do they do that” emotional skills?

While, many people think that having a high IQ (intellectual smarts) is the most essential skill set for excelling in business and life, successful business leaders are proving to be those who nurture their EQ – Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence. This applies to the solo entrepreneur and the leaders of huge corporations – emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities.

Why is emotional intelligence so important? Being in business means you’re dealing with thinking, feeling people not inanimate objects. And if you want to motivate a person to do something, you need to make an emotional connection, not necessarily an intellectual connection.

What we’re taught in school about business and leadership is incomplete. They left out the more important skills, which are often termed people skills, soft skills, character building, or personality development. In today’s business world, these skills are now considered the new measuring rod for success. The higher a person’s position is and the more responsibility he or she has, the more emotional intelligence becomes crucial.

But what is emotional intelligence exactly? Happily, it’s a set of skills that anyone can acquire. It’s an essential ingredient for reaching and staying at the top in any field.

“Emotional Intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

This quote is how Daniel Goleman, who coined the term emotional intelligence, defines it. I’ve just finished reading his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence. I highly recommend it to you. He uses real life case studies of star performers to compare the importance of emotional intelligence with intellectual, technical competency. Here are some major takeaways from this book that you can apply immediately to your own life…

Understand how the brain works. Daniel Goleman explains that intellectual intelligence is based on the neocortex, the most recently evolved parts of the brain. This prefrontal area gives you the ability to pay attention to, remember and apply vital information when making good decisions.

Emotional intelligence occurs in the lower or inner brain, the more primitive sub-cortex, specifically the amygdala. Here is where our emotional, preprogrammed “primitive” impulses, “gut feelings” reside. It also stores our accumulated life experiences.

What this means for you: When the mind is calm everything works normally. Your prefrontal lobes introduce your power of reason, judgment and appropriate social behavior and, at the same time, control your emotional impulses. However, when a perceived threat arises, the central, more emotional part of the brain takes over. Worry, panic, frustration, anger, or irritation can kick in.

If you don’t have a high level of self-awareness, these powerful emotions can hijack your rational mind and cause you to explode in ways that you typically wouldn’t. Like when you lose it and yell at your spouse or children. Or you get stage fright so badly you can’t give your presentation. Out-of-control emotions can make the smartest people act crazily.

But the good news is, when you understand how the brain works, you can learn to control your emotions. How?

Researchers are discovering that people who are excelling in leadership roles today have a high level of non-judgmental self-awareness, which leads to controlling their emotions. This is such an important topic I’m starting a series on how to deepen your emotional intelligence. Be sure to visit my website each week so you don’t miss out on any of the articles.

Would you like a head start to honing your EQ skills? I’d love to give you one-on-one support as you fully discover your personal emotional intelligence. Please contact me and we can set up a convenient time for both of us to start working together.

Read related information on Emotional Intelligence:

Women in Leadership Who Excel Have High Emotional Intelligence

Which of These 25 Emotional Intelligence Competencies Will You Master Next?

How to Use Emotional Intelligence Training to Be an Influential Leader

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