Committed to Career Success? Assess, Commit, and Act to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

There’s a lot of content online to help people understand how to improve their career prospects – the challenge is to turn familiarity and understanding of the concept of emotional intelligence into the knowledge demonstrated by performance that produces real results.

But first a digression on some fundamental distinctions I find relevant to any discussion about building a successful career – the distinction between familiarity, understanding, and knowledge.

People are familiar with something when they are aware of it but cannot speak much about it.  (I am familiar with research that correlated teeth flossing with lower cardiac illness).  People understand something when they have the words to speak it coherently.  (I understand how to floss my teeth.)  People know something when they have the embodied practices to perform it.  (I only demonstrate real knowledge of the importance of flossing my teeth only when I do so.)

Now back to emotional intelligence.

Coming from an industrial era which paid people with high intelligence very well (e.g., doctors, lawyers, engineers), it is important to understand that in the age of instant global communications, being smart doesn’t pay as well as it used to.  What matters even more is the ability to do something that is harder to outsource to India:  coordinate in real time effectively with other people.

One way of measuring effectiveness at working with others is called “emotional intelligence”, which research has noted is even more predictive of career success than their IQ, or intelligence quotient.  

Many people are familiar with or understand the concept of emotional intelligence. The challenge is to turn that into knowledge by taking actions to improve and/or exploit their sources of emotional intelligence.

To move from mere familiarity and understanding to actual embodied knowledge, applying the importance of emotional intelligence to your specific situation, try the following:

1.       Read the article below and score yourself as “weak”, “strong” or “in between” for each of the 18 criteria listed.  Try to resist the natural inclination to overrate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
2.       Think of one way to apply one of your strengths to address an issue or opportunity at work, and one way to improve a weakness that you assess will increase the likelihood and scope of your career success.

Turning familiarity and understanding into knowledge about some dimension of your career situation, then committing to a specific set of actions, is not something that has to be a big deal.  But by choosing to do so on a regular basis, alongside paying bills or cleaning your house, you will likely find yourself moving with more velocity toward your career objectives than you would otherwise.