Dr. Travis Bradberry, the award-winning coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, believes that there is a major oversight happening on the part of many recruiters. The cofounder of TalentSmart,® which provides emotional intelligence tests and training, thinks that considering a candidate’s emotional intelligence, or EQ, in the hiring process is fundamental—and something that hiring leaders and employers should be making more of a concerted effort to integrate into the screening process.
Emotional intelligence, according to Bradberry, is the single greatest indicator of professional success. More than IQ, or personality, he believes, recruiters should be measuring and considering a candidate’s EQ to make solid hires.
MightyRecruiter talked to Bradberry,, the award-winning coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, LinkedIn Influencer, and regular contributor to publications like Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, The World Economic Forum, and The Huffington Post, to get his insights on why EQ is most closely linked to high performance, the four core skills that make up emotional intelligence, and how candidates who possess these qualities can be a huge asset to your organization.
How do you define emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the hard-to-identify “something” in each of us that that affects how we make personal decisions, navigate complex social situations, and manage our behavior to achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence – or EQ – is made up of two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence. Within those two competencies are four core skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
- Self-Awareness: is a person’s ability to identify their emotions accurately.
- Self-Management: is a person’s ability to use that awareness to remain flexible and positively direct their own behavior.
- Social Awareness: is a person’s ability to accurately read other people’s emotions and understand what is going on beneath the surface.
- Relationship Management: is a person’s ability to rely on their awareness of their feelings and the emotions of others to successfully manage social interactions.
After testing more than a million people, we’ve concluded that EQ skills are critical to being a great leader. In fact, it’s these skills that set leaders apart from others and can take a leader at any level to places others cannot go.
Why is EQ an important measurement for employers to consider in the hiring process?
Emotional intelligence is important for employers to consider in the hiring process because it’s the foundation for a host of critical leadership skills. EQ impacts almost everything a person says and does each day. It’s so critical to success, in fact, that we’ve found that EQ accounts for up to 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs, making it the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence is also the strongest driver of personal excellence and leadership. For employers, the great news is that while some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, a high EQ can be developed, even in people who aren’t born with it.
That’s because there’s a neuronal pathway between the rational and emotional centers of your brain. When you work on your EQ, you build new neurons, you grow new pathways, or you advance the pathway, which increases the flow of information. So emotional intelligence is a flexible skill and is something that you can build; whereas, IQ and personality are both fixed.
Your research that EQ is the indicator that most effectively predicts high performance conflicts with long-proven research that names the ‘Big Five’—whether someone is an extrovert, agreeable, conscientious, emotionally stable, and open to experience— as the most important indicators of high performance. How do you respond to critics of your theory?
Both EQ and the ‘Big Five’ are predictive of performance in different ways. The ‘Big Five’ predicts performance based on personality, while EQ predicts performance based on skills. Personality, like IQ, remains stable over time. Personality is the “style” that defines each of us. It’s the result of hard-wired preferences, such as the inclination toward introversion or extroversion. Personality, IQ, and EQ each occupy distinct grounds that together explain what makes a person succeed.
Also, our research also shows that individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence make more money— an average of $29,000 more per year than those with lower EQ. The link between EQ and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary, across industries. In fact, we haven’t yet found a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to EQ.
Can emotional intelligence be fostered? Are there tools that employers can offer their workers to help them develop these core competencies?
While there is no guarantee that a person with a high level of emotional intelligence will be successful, there is a considerable correlation between EQ and professional performance. In my research, I’ve found that of the top performers in leadership positions, 90 percent score high in emotional intelligence, whereas only 20 percent of those with a high EQ are bottom performers.
It’s worth noting that leaders routinely overestimate their EQ skills, whereas they are typically better at measuring their other qualities, say, their own intelligence. The fact that many leaders have a hard time measuring their own EQ skills shows how tough these skills are to identify and master. The good news for both leaders and employees is that they can improve their EQ and take their game to the next level.
To improve your EQ, we first recommend taking an assessment that shows you the areas you need to work on. Once those have been identified, it’s just a matter of practice. We include a passcode inside Emotional Intelligence 2.0 so that each reader can go in and test his or her EQ.
For leaders, it’s critical that they provide employees with the opportunity to grow and build new skills. TalentSmart offers coaches, consultants, and trainers who work directly with organizations to develop the emotional intelligence of leaders, managers, and employees.
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