Is Emotional Intelligence Really That Important?

our psychological trifecta is summed up by your IQ, personality, and emotional intelligence (EQ). 

Healthcare in particular is full of egos, within a system that can drive the humanity right out of the human.  It is truly a challenge to take care of people, many of whom can’t or won’t take care of themselves.   Naturally in order to survive, we go on pure defense and suppress our emotions, self medicate, or burnout.  Leaders in healthcare see how a struggling EQ negatively impacts staff turnover, absenteeism, error rates, and certainly patient and staff satisfaction levels.  For every experienced nurse that burns out and leaves the hospital there’s no doubt that quality has to be impacted. 

Aware leaders understand that an overall healthy EQ improves a team’s dynamic and collaborative component.  The more emotional awareness we each have and the stronger our ability to manage our emotions, the higher our EQ.   EQ has a direct effect on how we make our decisions, manage our behavior, handle social situations, and influence the behavior of teams. 

Emotional intelligence is broken down into five categories; self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.   We can have varying levels of each of these.

  • Self-awareness.  This is the emotional equivalent to “I think, therefore I am”.  If you think you have emotions, you do, and thus the awareness.  The more evolved your self awareness, the more you realize the impact of your feelings on others, and that you can manage your feelings and their effects.
  • Self-regulation.  Like Nietzsche said, “Being human is a complicated gig”.   While we humans may not be able to control the emotions we feel, we can control when, the intensity, and the duration in which we allow ourselves to feel them.   This is what self regulation is all about, the ability to manage impulses and emotions.  
  • Motivation. We all have bad days, but those with high EQ have the ability to self motivate, turn that frown upside down, and simultaneously chug that half full glass of water like a boss, all before the sun rises once again.
  • Empathy.  The ability not only to feel what others feel but to understand why they feel it.  The better you are at empathizing, the better you can learn to control any situation. 
  • Social skills.  Pure people skills, these interpersonal skills are beyond important in today’s work environment.  Your ability to empathize, understand different cultures, and authentic nature gives you the ability to influence and lead people. 

The individuals and companies I work with, especially in the healthcare industry, understand that to lead and deliver a culture that breeds innovation, collaborative work practices across diverse teams, and manage knowledge workers - often around the globe - requires serious EQ. 

Today EQ is just as important, if not more important, than IQ.  Aiming to create an environment and culture that recognizes the importance of EQ and values it as both a collective and an individual resource is vital to any team.