Coined in 1990, emotional intelligence is a term that describes several related attributes. Included are skills like perceiving emotions (both of oneself and of others), understanding the signals emotions send about relationships, and managing emotions in a healthy way. According to author Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is crucial to good leadership. “Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind… but he still won’t make a great leader.”

Emotionally intelligent leaders are 7x as likely to have high performance outcomes. For supervisors and executives, performance outcomes are strong determinants of tenure, compensation, and career satisfaction. The benefits don’t only arise for leaders; 90% of high performing employees exhibit high emotional intelligence. In a 2021 study of Spanish workers, high emotional intelligence was a stronger predictor of salary than age or gender.

How is emotional intelligence practiced? There are 5 key traits that fall under the umbrella: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and motivation. While some people are naturally more social or empathetic than others, all of these traits can be nurtured or developed intentionally. With the right focus and intentions, anyone can learn to control their words and actions despite negative feelings or communicate clearly with different kinds of people. It is in every person’s career interest to develop these “soft skills,” as a single point increase in emotional intelligence is linked to $1,300 in additional annual income.

What can a person do to grow their emotional intelligence? There are 2 steps. First, understand your feelings. Practice identifying emotions in times of stress and consider how your emotions impact your actions. Second, monitor your reactions. Pay close attention to how you act in stressful situations and practice patience before responding. To make this journey easier, find a mentor or keep a journal.

Learn more in the infographic below:

emotional intelligence

Infographic source: GradSchoolCenter