Emotional Intelligence: What it Means & Why it Matters

Posted in News, Insights, Motivational

Are you wondering why emotional intelligence has been such a hot topic lately? We discuss exactly what it means and why it's so important to develop for success.


Emotional Intelligence: What it Means & Why it Matters, Marshall ConnectsEmotional intelligence is catching on like wildfire! It's relevance to personal and professional success is unparalleled, so it's no wonder it's such a hot topic. It's also why I thought it would be beneficial to outline what it is and why it matters.

Peter Salovey and John Mayer developed emotional intelligence as a psychological theory in the 1990s. They define it as "the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth."

Lately, I've noticed that emotional intelligence (or EI) is gaining more popularity and interest than ever before. I'm frequently asked by companies to provide training and workshops on how one can increase their emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence: the other kind of smart.

Emotional intelligence is often called "the other kind of smart."

It's also the number one predictor of success both personally and professionally. We all know someone who is academically brilliant, otherwise known as "book smart." Yet those same people are (often) socially unskilled.

On the subject of social skills, take a look at this post where I share the unlimited benefits of having social awareness at work.

Emotional intelligence is an individual's ability to recognize, understand, and manage their feelings and those of others. After all, learning how to communicate one's emotions effectively, while interpreting and responding to others is key to success.

Without a doubt, learning to manage your emotions will make you more successful.

I wrote an entire post on that particular notion, and you can find it right here.

A quick assessment

As you're reading about EI, you might also be questioning your own. I recommend taking a look at my in-depth emotional intelligence assessments and coaching

But in the meantime, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I realistic about how I perceive myself?
  • Should I express myself more?
  • Are there better ways to connect at a personal level?
  • How can I make better decisions?
  • What ways can I manage stress better?

Your answers to those questions can give a lot away about your emotional quotient, or EQ.

Intellectual Intelligence isn't enough on its own to be successful.

We are all born with a unique personality and a set IQ. Enhancing IQ is possible, but there is a limit. In contrast, developing emotional intelligence is entirely within everyone's reach.

Once known as Social Intelligence, researchers now understand that those with high EI can outperform those that rely on their IQ alone. In fact, employees and leaders who exercise EI have a natural and healthy work-life balance, better self-control, and stronger, more meaningful relationships. 

Interesting statistics about emotional intelligence:

  • 90% of top performers have high EI.
  • EI matters twice as much as technical knowledge. 
  • 70% of individuals do not handle conflict or stress effectively.
  • Only 36% of individuals understand emotions as they occur.
  • Just 15% of individuals feel respected and valued by their employers.

The exciting news is we can develop our emotional intelligence. Our brain is like plastic. It's highly malleable and allows us to retrain ourselves. Brain plasticity is a common term used by neuroscientists. It refers to the brain's ability to change at any age. And unlike IQ, EI isn't fixed at birth.

  • Ever heard the saying, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks?' IT'S NOT TRUE, you can, due to neuroplasticity!
    - Linda Marshall

Emotionally effective leaders

Emotionally intelligent leaders use specific emotional and social skills to impact how they perceive and express themselves. They also use emotional intelligence to develop and maintain relationships and cope with everyday challenges. These skills help them get better results, faster, and with less stress and drama.

As I mentioned, these skills can be developed. Your EI isn't set in stone. In this one-day intensive workshop, you're provided with new insights and an action plan for elevating your effectiveness as a leader using critical elements of EI.

We offer customized EI training, both in-person and online. If you're interested in our Emotional Intelligence Assessments and Coaching, contact us today!


This article was originally published on June 24, 2017, and has been updated (August 2020).

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