Emotional intelligence is
People have always had emotional intelligence. It has always been essential in business. Only, nowadays, it is being identified and described as an aspect of people’s minds. This is useful because it helps people get better at it.
People buy from people. People work with people. Being good at relating to people has always been essential in business. People who ignore this aspect of work have difficulties and, worse, understand neither why they are in difficulty, nor how to overcome the problem. So, EI helps people understand why what they do works, and therefore enables them to consciously improve.
There are plenty of tools on the market purporting to “measure” EI. Whether they provide anything useful, indeed whether it is possible to measure EI at all, is very much open to question.
Wanting to measure emotional intelligence is not an emotionally intelligent position.
Because emotions (and beliefs) drive our behaviour. If a manager wants someone to change their behaviour, they will be most successful if they engage with that person’s emotions and beliefs. If a businessperson wants someone to buy their products and services, they’ll be most successful if they know how to engage with people at an emotional level (people make decisions when they’re in their emotions).
As far as business is concerned: If, by sentimentality, you mean mawkishness, no, I don’t think so. If you mean sentimentality as in ‘concerned with sentiment’, ie emotion (without its pejorative connotations), then I see an increase in awareness of EI which is all to the good. Whether, in our highly rational and logic-based culture, emotions will dominate over logic, I doubt.
Everything is manipulation at one level. Paying inflated salaries is manipulation. Writing these answers in blue (as opposed to red, say) is manipulation.
The important thing is the intent behind any behaviour. EI is one of many things people might use to manipulate other people, but it isn’t the manipulation itself.
Increased self awareness leading to greater effectiveness.
Greater empathy with, and understanding of, other people.
Higher ability to work successfully with others.
EI is a precursor and requirement of leadership.
Practise and develop self awareness.
Lose judgement of others.
Let go of the need to be right.
Formal written exams are isolated work (or they were in my day), so the scope is restricted to personal awareness: for example, state management, which is the ability to handle stress, to keep calm/motivated/positive/etc—whichever state the person seeks to be in. EI also talks about communication, so what you write can be influenced by improving communication skills.
Accountancy is a discipline from which emotions can almost completely be excluded. But accountants are people who need to work for other people, and with other people. Recognise that a successful accountant is one who works successfully with others—being good at accountancy will be assumed as a given—so develop your emotional intelligence.
This page has been adapted from an article that originally appeared in Student Accountant magazine