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Emotional Intelligence Part II: 7 Signs of Strong EQ

Emotional Intelligence Part II: 7 Signs of Strong EQ

In the tenth anniversary edition of his bestseller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (2005), author Daniel Goleman quotes a search firm executive who says, “CEO’s are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence.”

Many of us grew up believing that high IQ was a surefire predictor of success. However, studies have found that while “smarts” can help you land the job, strong “Emotional Intelligence” is, oftentimes, what helps you keep it.

Often referred to as “EQ” or “EI,” the term “Emotional Intelligence” has become a part of the lexicon thanks to Goleman’s groundbreaking book – first published in 1995 – which forever changed the paradigm of how success is predicted. A plethora of books and articles on EQ, by Goleman and other authors, have followed – each bringing to light how the management of our emotions impacts our careers and determines overall success in our lives.

In my previous post on EQ, I provided an overview – listing the breakdown of Goleman’s 5 Competencies of Emotional Intelligence from his book Working With Emotional Intelligence. In this post, I’m taking a closer look at Goleman’s competencies – focusing on the following 7 signs of strong EQ:

1. Getting Along Well/Interest In Others

High EQ individuals have the ability to be active listeners and truly curious about others. They’re often as comfortable talking with strangers as they are with friends, and are adept at reading people, i.e.: taking cues from body language, facial expressions, etc.

2. Self-Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses

Goleman explains that “star” performers at work are successful because they know where they excel and, as a result, have strong self-confidence. At the same time, they aren’t afraid of negative evaluation. Since they’re in a continuous process of self-improvement, they actually seek out feedback regarding their blind spots/weaknesses.

3. Operating With Integrity

The key words here are trustworthiness and conscientiousness. A person with strong EQ in this area is highly ethical in business and relationships and takes responsibility for her actions.

4. Self-Awareness of Feelings

Emotionally intelligent people have self-control when it comes to their feelings, especially anger or frustration. They’re able to observe their emotions in a detached manner, and pinpoint the reason why they’re upset.

5. Present-Focused

Rather than whine or complain about what’s already happened or what’s to come, an individual with strong EQ is solution-focused – looking for what they can do, in the moment, to problem solve.

6. Self-Motivated

According to Goleman, top performers in the workplace demonstrate motivational competencies that include: a strong drive to achieve; a commitment to reaching goals that benefit the group/organization; and initiative/optimism – which inspires individuals to seize opportunities as well as take setbacks or obstacles in stride.

7. Well-Placed Boundaries

Individuals with high EQ are skilled at assessing what is realistic in terms of the time and energy required for a task or project. They’re aware of their limits and they know when to say “No.”

You may feel you’re strong in many EQ competencies, but notice weaknesses as well. The good news is that your EQ score improves as you address those weaknesses. Goleman says it starts with noticing a low EQ habit; having a desire to change it; then figuring a way to counter the habit and put that new behavior into practice.

In Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (2009), authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves call EQ “the single biggest predictor of success in the workplace.” They note that EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs, and that people with high EQ make an average of $29,000 more a year than those with lower scores.

I encourage you to take an EQ assessment. You’ll come away with a heightened awareness of your social and emotional skills that can help fine-tune the way you interact and get along in your relationships. This, in turn, can help pave the way for greater success at work and in your life, in general.


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Huffington Post, AOL Jobs, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts and produces an online show called: Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life- on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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Community Discussion
Abby Vick
Abby Vick

This is so poignant and it's absolutely true that successful leaders need to have all of these things. Could be one of the reasons people write articles about women being better leaders than men? ;) Not a hard, fast rule, but women can tend to have empathy, caring for others, seeing the big picture-qualities that might evade a man unless he works toward it. Now that I'm a leader in my company, I'm becoming so much more aware of the areas that I need to improve in my leadership, including being emotionally intelligent as well. Some things that I originally thought would come more naturally, I'm having to be more intentional to do. Thanks for the article.

Thursday, Sep 12 11:24 AM EDT