What is the strongest predictor of success in the workplace in the 21st century? Emotional Intelligence. According to Talent Smart, 58% of success across all roles was tied back to emotional intelligence. In addition, when studying high performers in companies, 9 out of 10 were gifted in this trait. And, as pandemic fatigue hits new highs, emotional intelligence has never been more important. In this post, we wanted to demystify the concept of emotional intelligence and give you ideas to bolster the emotional intelligence within your organization in 2022.

One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As kids, my sisters and I learned manners like not to throw tantrums or interrupt. While these rules often seem inconvenient to a child, in retrospect, they are some of the basic building blocks for something of great value – emotional intelligence (EI), which is also known as emotional quotient (EQ). For this reason, many in education are focusing on these skills now known as SEL (social-emotional learning).
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions and interactions with others; it consists of four capabilities – self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness and social skill. Employees can be the smartest in their field or the most renowned, but if they don’t possess these soft skills, they can wreak havoc in teams, burn bridges with stakeholders, stall progress and more. While the social sector is generally great at being mindful of others’ feelings, we have all likely witnessed major EI failures from individuals who always have to be on their soapbox or who show obvious disdain for colleagues who don’t agree with them. This also includes what we call the “niceness syndrome,” which sometimes can lead to avoiding saying what we think but sharing our opinions passive-aggressively. The goal of the social sector is to pursue excellence and create momentum on behalf of those we serve. Either extreme – being too nice or having too much ego – gets in the way of our work together. If we can build EI as a competency in the field, our organizations and communities will move farther and faster together.
Here are just a few ideas for using EI in the social sector today:

Hiring and promoting employees 

Companies like Zappos and Google have been utilizing behavior-based interviewing, and even assessments, to screen candidates for EI. Given the cost of employee attrition, the social sector can save dollars and build capacity by selecting the best candidates for the job, including those who demonstrate strong EI.

Helping employees improve with one-on-one coaching & mentoring 

Employees have a range of skillsets, and no single employee will possess every skill you need. When new employees start or are promoted, compare your needs against their competencies and provide coaching on areas of growth. Don’t assume they know where their habits or personality traits may hold them back from connecting with others. Address them directly and get them assistance so that they can become the top-notch employees your organization needs.

Strengthening organizational cultures 

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence seeks to boost students’ EI with the hope of creating supportive school cultures that are positive and free from bullying. Similar techniques can be implemented in the workplace to develop an environment where employees feel safe to share their ideas. Working with staff and even clients on bolstering EI skills can transform the culture of the organization and make it a place where individuals can reach their full potential, both intellectually and personally. To help form your own unique culture, start by developing and staying true to values. If your organization doesn’t have core values, check out our blog post that walks you through an easy DIY way to develop them.

Building resilient organizations 

Cultivating a resilient social sector organization that can readily bounce back from failures depends on developing the emotional intelligence of staff. Knowing where your team needs to build capabilities is paramount, and EI skills are not to be overlooked. The team’s ability to develop and maintain key relationships depends on strong EI skills.

Having emotional intelligence is critically important, not just at work, but in life as well. Knowing how to manage stressful situations in the most tactful way can spare hard feelings and deepen credibility. Tell us how EI has affected your social sector workplace and share your EI wins and losses with us.

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