Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand and use emotions in a positive and constructive way to manage your emotions and the emotions of others. It is gaining traction as a crucial tool in corporate and government offices around the globe, and as a required workplace skill for government leaders, supervisors and managers.

This movement is supported by numerous studies by workplace and efficiency experts who note an important value of EQ: though intellect is static, EQ can be learned and developed, accelerating productivity and advancing career paths for those who master this valuable skill.

EQ is comprised of intrapersonal skills – understanding yourself, how you react and respond in different situations emotionally; and interpersonal skills – understanding others, and how they react and respond in different situations emotionally. Around these two key elements, there are five components to EQ; the first three are intrapersonal and the remaining two are interpersonal:

  1. Self-awareness: key to this component is being aware of your emotional triggers, so you can prepare for these triggers, and respond rather than react. Understand your moods, emotions, and drives so you can adjust when needed. This requires a realistic assessment of yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, self-confidence, and emotional triggers.
  2. Self-regulation: the goal here is to use our understanding of the different layers of our emotions to regulate our emotional responses. The better we understand ourselves, the more successful we’ll be at choosing the type of emotional interaction we want – so that we are responding to others rather than reacting. Think through what type of interaction you want, and choose to respond a certain way, rather than being emotionally hijacked and reactive. A key tool that can help us with this goal is the STC Principle: Stop – Tune in – Choose. In essence, increase the time gap between the emotional stimulus and your response, so that you can make the right choice of how to respond based on the outcome you want. Organizations need consistency and good judgment from their leaders; self-regulation helps you deliver that.
  3. Self-motivation: an emotionally intelligent person will stay in the moment, and focus their energy on the task – or person – at hand. Leaders engage others, persevere to overcome obstacles and setbacks, and stay focused on their goals and objectives. Emotionally intelligent leaders are also optimists, remaining optimistic in tough times. This helps you keep your team upbeat and engaged, and enables you to focus on finding a solution and solving the problem.
  4. Social Awareness (empathy): Emotionally intelligent leaders acknowledge when they see employees having a bad day, or not doing well – if people don’t believe you care about them, they won’t trust you or engage with you. They need to feel you have their best interest at heart. Developing empathy and observation skills is crucial to being aware and alert to the emotional state of those around you. And by being in touch with others’ emotional status, you can think through what’s the best response to a certain situation to help you achieve the outcome you desire, that’s best for the team member and the team. Understanding your team members’ emotional triggers so you can ‘break the circuit’ when they start to react is immensely effective in improving the emotional balance of the office.
  5. Social Skills (effective relationships and influence): a key element people look for in a leader is a good listener, and it’s amazing how many people were never really taught the skills of listening. Emotionally intelligent leaders spend a lot of time developing this skill. This is especially important to millennials, who will ask up front: how are you going to help me develop? And it’s true across the board: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Connect with your team, demonstrate you are truly listening to them, and communicate clearly, concisely, and honestly, and you’ll consistently secure great results.

Bottom line: successful emotionally intelligent people connect with others – intellect alone does not connect. And the more effectively you connect and engage, the more positive and productive your organization will be.

Harry White is an American Management Association (AMA) Leadership Development Course Leader who has more than 25 years of experience as a leadership development facilitator and speaker. His areas of specialization for American Management Association (AMA) Enterprise Government Solutions include emotional intelligence, developing effective executive leadership, dealing with conflict productively, and improving leadership and management effectiveness.