The ability to perceive, identify and manage emotions in oneself and in others is an invaluable skill that that many employers mistakenly don’t consider when hiring and managing their staff. This skill is overlooked however it can be the difference between achieving your business objectives and not achieving them.
Having a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EI) makes individuals more effective at achieving goals where emotions are a key driver. Emotionally aware individuals have a plethora of positive attributes such as working more effective in team environments, the ability to build stronger interpersonal relationships and, in my experience, genuinely better at being business leaders.
I say this because people with high EI are perceptive and more sensitive to reading emotional signals whether they be in the form of facial expressions, the tone of someone’s voice or their body language. They are much better at managing their emotions, and more importantly, are able to use their commercial acumen well because they can clearly make the correlation between their EI and cognitive thought to be more creative when trying to solve problems, meaning they are able to make better decisions.
So, how is EI important to business success?
Recently our management consulting division used this measure to help restructure a business, replacing 50% of the sales team in a client’s company with individuals that displayed a high degree of EI. The results were outstanding. They outsold the more experienced sales team members by well over 33%, and were able to win business the organisation had been trying to win for years. Their success can be pegged back to the empathy which allowed them to relate to their customer through genuine care and interest making them better consultative sales people.
As these new recruits were very self-aware, they were able to talk about their strengths and weaknesses and the actions they were taken to improve themselves as individuals. They were able to pay attention and showed strong listening capabilities which meant they were able to outwardly demonstrate that they were present during conversations.
We have also used this approach to assist a large organisation in recruiting a new executive team. This organisation was losing a significant amount of accounts, were struggling to retain staff and their culture was shot. Within 6 months of putting in a team of executives with high degree of EI the business was performing to greater levels. The culture in the organisation had done a 180 degree change focusing on empathy and mutual respect and the team achieved in 6 months what the board expected in 12 months.
Yes, skill set is important but if you can’t use EI to drive business opportunities and relationships you won’t, in my opinion, be the best in the business. I firmly believe that EI is directly linked to business success and a very strong predictor for future job success. Your new recruit might look good on paper, but do they have the right EI to be the right addition to your team? A bad hire can cost 25% of the person’s first year salary so hiring right the first time is vital so it doesn’t cost you in the long run.