In this book, author Daniel Goleman reveals the skills that distinguish star performers in every field, from entry level jobs to middle-level to top executive posts. The book shows that the single most important factor is not IQ, advanced degrees, or technical expertise, but the quality called “Emotional Intelligence.” This book shows that we all possess the potential to improve our emotional intelligence – at any stage in our careers, as individuals or as team members in an organization.
The New Yardstick
The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other. This is increasingly applied in choosing who will be hired and not, who will be let go or retained. In a time with no guarantee of job security, when the very concept of a job is being replaced by “portable skills,” these are prime qualities that make and keep us employable. Talked about loosely for decades under a variety of names, from “character” and “personality” to “soft skills” and “competence,” there is at last a more precise understanding of these human talents: emotional intelligence.
- First, emotional intelligence does not mean merely “being nice,” but rather, for example, bluntly confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they have been avoiding.
- Second, emotional intelligence does not mean giving free rein to feelings. Rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goal.
- Lastly, levels of emotional intelligence are not fixed genetically, nor does it develop in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop through life and learn from our experiences.
What Employers WantA survey of American employers reveals that more than half the people who work for them lack the motivation to keep learning and improving in their job. Four in ten are not able to work cooperatively with fellow employees, and just 19 percent of those applying for entry-level jobs have enough self-discipline in their work habits. More and more employers are complaining about the lack of social skills in new hires.
The Limits of IQ
Given how much emphasis schools and admissions tests put on it, IQ alone explains surprisingly little of achievement at work or in life. When IQ test scores are correlated with how well people perform in their careers, the highest estimate of how much difference IQ accounts for is about 25 percent. This means that IQ alone at best leaves 75 percent of job success unexplained.
In large part, expertise is a combination of common sense plus the specialized knowledge and skill we pick up in the course of doing any job. Expertise comes from in-the-trenches learning. It shows up as an insider’s sense of the tricks of a trade – the real knowledge of how to do a job that only experience brings. Be that as it may, expertise is a “threshold requirement.” The abilities that distinguish the outstanding supervisors in technical fields are not technical, but rather relate to handling people.
Here’s a cautionary tale about two students, Penn and Matt. Penn was a brilliant and creative student, an exemplar of the best Yale had to offer. The trouble with Penn was he knew he was exceptional – and so was, as one professor put it, “unbelievably arrogant.” Even so, he looked spectacular on paper. When he graduated, Penn was highly sought after. He got a lot of invitations for job interviews. But Penn’s arrogance came across all too clearly; he ended up with only one job offer from a second-tier outfit. Matt, on the other hand, wasn’t as academically brilliant. But he was adept interpersonally. Everyone who worked with him liked him. Matt ended up with seven job offers out of eight interviews and went on to success in his field, while Penn was let go after two years at his first job. Penn lacked – and Matt had – emotional intelligence.
Emotional Competence is a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work. Our emotional intelligence determines our potential for learning the practical skills that are based on its five elements: self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships. Our emotional competence, on the other hand, shows how much of that potential we have translated into on-the-job capabilities. For instance, being good at serving customers is an emotional competence based on empathy. Likewise, trustworthiness is a competence based on self-regulation, or handling impulses and emotions well. Both customer service and trustworthiness are competencies that can make people outstanding in their work. Simply being high in emotional intelligence does not guarantee a person will have learned the emotional competencies that matter for work; it means only that they have excellent potential to learn them.
The Leadership Edge
Emotional competence is particularly central to leadership, a role whose essence is getting others to do their jobs more effectively. Interpersonal ineptitude in leaders lowers everyone’s performance: it wastes time, creates acrimony, corrodes motivation and commitment, builds hostility and apathy. A leader’s strengths or weaknesses in emotional competence can be measured in the gain or loss to the organization of the fullest talents of those they manage.
Talents for These Times
Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, in charge of executive searches throughout Latin America from Egon Zehnder International’s Buenos Aires office, compared 227 highly successful executives with 23 who failed in their jobs. He found that the managers who failed were almost always high in expertise and IQ. In every case their fatal weakness was in emotional intelligence – arrogance, over reliance on brainpower, inability to adapt to the occasionally disorienting economic shifts in that region, and disdain for collaboration or teamwork.
The Inner Rudder
A physician was once offered a business proposition: If he would leave his practice to become medical director of a fledgling condominium health resort and invest $100,000 of his own capital in the venture, his projected share of the business would amount to $4 million within three years. Or so the business plan promised. He liked the vision of a resort where people could improve their health as they vacationed; coupled with the lure of a possibly fantastic payoff he couldn’t resist. He sold his medical practice, invested in the resort, and became its medical director. But during the start-up year he found that there was no medical program to direct yet – he ended up spending his days essentially as a salesman, trying to interest people in buying time-share condos at the resort.
The Power of Intuition: The First Thirty Second
Credit managers must sense when a deal might go bad even if the numbers look fine; executives have to decide whether a new product is worth the time and money it takes to develop; people must make an educated guess about who among a field of candidates for a job will have the best chemistry in a working group. All such decisions demand the capacity to fold into the decision-making process our intuitive sense of what is right and wrong. Intuition and gut feeling bespeak the capacity to sense messages from our internal store of emotional memory – our own reservoir of wisdom and judgment. This ability lies at the heart of self-awareness.
Emotional Awareness: Recognizing One’s Emotions and Their Feelings