Personal Development

7 Reasons Emotional Intelligence is Key to Career Advancement

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At one time, the person with the greatest technical knowledge was given top consideration when it came to promotions. There is an inherent problem with that thinking.

Once someone is promoted, technical skills become less necessary as the hands on work will be done by those who are expected to have that skill set. On the other hand, the ability to work effectively with others becomes increasingly important.

In the information age, this becomes increasingly paramount. As Steve Jobs stated, "We don't hire smart people to tell them what to do, we hire them to tell us what to do."

Increasingly employers are becoming aware of the importance of emotional intelligence in staff they promote up the ladder. According to a 2011 Career Builder Survey were 75 percent more likely to promote staff with high EI over those with high IQ.

Here are 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is key to career advancement:

Ability to Manage Emotions under Pressure

As responsibilities increase, the pressure and demands upon people increase. The ability to stay calm, control emotions and not react to every crisis, or perceived crisis is very important. The expectation from those above is that situations will be handled smoothly and calmly. Those reporting to them expect reassurance and support, especially during times of high stress, pressure and crisis. Even in highly emotionally charged situations, they have the ability to manage their emotions and come up with thoughtful discussion.

Ability to Listen and Make Others Feel Heard and Understood

Many of the problems in the workplace come about as a result of people feeling that they are not heard, seen or understood. Even if the staff's ideas or advice is not acted upon, it is crucial to their feeling of importance and motivation to do their best to feel those they are reporting to, hear them and take the time and effort to try to understand.

Show Empathy and Sensitivity to Those They Work With

Everyone at work has situations and challenges and situations that come up outside of work that effect their performance. Family members pass away, become ill, relationships end and a myriad of other events happen that will effect someone's workplace performance. Reacting with sensitivity and empathy in these situations can make all the difference between helping staff through their situation and leaving them angry, resentful, unmotivated and looking for a new job.

Take Responsibility for Their Actions and Learn From Mistakes

Emotionally intelligent people are better able to take mistakes in stride as they focus on the lesson learned rather than beating themselves up for making the mistake. They are less likely to see the mistake as a personal failure on their part and take away the lesson learned from it. This attitude is passed on to those reporting to them. Instead of fearing criticism and condemnation, staff will have less fear of taking initiative and trying something new. This results in more buy in from staff, increased satisfaction and in the end more productivity. Employees' discretionary efforts will be offered.

Non Defensive and Openness to Feedback

Emotionally intelligent people have their egos in check and are always open to learning and improvement. This allows them to take feedback (that is not positive) as information on how they can improve. They are more likely to see the person giving the feedback as having good intentions in that they are trying to help them improve, as opposed to wanting to intentionally belittle and tear them down.

Ability to Manage and Work Through Conflict

Promotion means having to deal with the inevitable conflict that will come from those reporting to them as well as work around the power struggles and disagreements from those above them. This requires someone who has the ability to not become emotionally involved, rather look for common ground, mediate, listen and be able to see the bigger picture.

Earn Respect From Others and Set a Positive Example

People who are able to keep their emotions under control, listen to others and treat them fairly and authentically earn the respect of those they work with. Those reporting to them look up to them and see them as a positive role model. They are approachable and see their roles as helping others to succeed. When staff see those qualities in their leaders, they feel a greater attachment to their workplace and put in greater effort. They also feel more loyalty to the organization.

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About the author

Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy