In an article at Forbes, Travis Bradberry, author of the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” and co-founder of TalentSmart, notes that emotional intelligence sets top performers apart from the rest of the pack.

According to Bradberry, “Emotional intelligence is the something in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

In his research at TalentSmart, Bradberry found that emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is  the biggest predictor of workplace performance and the strongest driver of leadership excellence.

“People with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money — an average of $29,000 more per year — than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to annual salary,” adds Bradberry.

In this post, we’ll explore how emotional intelligence helps employees succeed as leaders, how to use EQ to make personnel decisions, and the value of integrating EQ measures into your HR strategy.

Today’s high-EQ employees, tomorrow’s leaders

In a report titled “The Future of Jobs,” The World Economic Forum listed emotional intelligence as the sixth most important skill (out of ten) that employees need to possess to thrive in the workplace of the future.

Other skills that ranked high on the list were complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and people management.

In a white paper titled “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence,” Joshua Freedman, Chief Executive Officer of Six Seconds, wrote, “The growing base of research consistently finds a powerful relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness.”

Daniel Goleman, author of the book “Emotional Intelligence”, shares a similar finding. In a LinkedIn Pulse article titled “Teach Emotional Intelligence in Schools“, Goleman notes that “the workplace competencies that independent studies have identified as distinguishing outstanding performers and leaders from the average are largely based on emotional intelligence — and as you go higher up the organizational ladder, they have greater and greater value.”

In short, research demonstrates a strong correlation between high EQ and leadership potential.

In a SHRM article titled “What Is Emotional Intelligence?“, Roxi Hewertson, president and CEO of Highland Consulting Group, detailed how she relied on her emotional intelligence to make an improvement in her leadership skills.

Previously, Hewertson used to share her vision at the beginning of staff meetings, not realizing that her passion for her own ideas quieted others. Hewertson changed her process, waiting to share her own strategy until she heard from others.

“When I stopped doing that, everything was so much better. When you’re so wrapped up in your own stuff, you’re not going to get the best out of people,” says Hewertson.

Consider evaluating EQ during the recruiting and hiring process

If high EQ is a strong indicator of leadership potential, shouldn’t you consider it during the interviewing and hiring process?

Dean Bender, principal at Bender/Helper Impact, says that he looks beyond technical and practical skills during the interviewing process.

In a SHRM article titled “Spotting the Emotionally Intelligent Candidate,” Bender says, “We’re about far more than just technical skills. I can teach or improve the many skills required for our profession, but there are intangibles that can’t be taught, and we try to learn at an early stage just how emotionally intelligent our new employees are.”

In addition to predicting your future leaders, high EQ measures are also connected to high-performing employees. The same SHRM article references a study from the University of California at Berkeley that found that EQ in doctoral degree holders was four times more likely than IQ (intelligence quotient) to predict success in their field of work.

EQ can be a challenge to assess, however, since people with different goals and personalities will express and exhibit emotional intelligence in different ways. Fortunately, organizations have created tools that can be given to job candidates to objectively assess their EQ.

Two such tests are:

  1. The Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, or MSCEIT, which measures and provides scores on four emotional abilities
  2. The TalentSmart test, which measures EQ and pinpoints measures that can allow you to increase it

Recommended action for HR leaders: review these EQ tests and consider whether to administer them for interviews of certain jobs or job categories.

The impact of integrating EQ into your HR strategy

Companies that integrate EQ measures and considerations into their HR strategy have demonstrated quantifiable business improvements.

Amadori, an Italian food company, worked with consulting firm Six Degrees on an emotional intelligence program to help managers develop stronger people skills.

According to a case study of the engagement, “We found that 47% of the variation in performance is predicted by variation in EQ. Plants with more emotionally intelligent managers had higher organizational engagement. Plants with higher organizational engagement reached better performance.”

Joshua Freedman’s white paper, “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence“, features additional success stories. At a Motorola manufacturing plant, 93% of employees became more productive after the facility adopted stress-reduction and emotional-intelligence programs.

At PepsiCo, a pilot program on emotional intelligence delivered a 10% increase in productivity, an 87% decrease in executive turnover, $3.75 million in added economic value, and over 1,000+% in ROI.

The report notes a study of 358 leaders within Johnson & Johnson. The conclusion from that study notes, “Emotional competence differentiates successful leaders.“

Considering the research findings and success stories outlined in this post, what are your plans for incorporating emotional intelligence into your HR strategy?