Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) involves understanding one’s emotions plus those of others, and using these capabilities to ensure best outcomes for all concerned. EI also revolves around knowledge of the source of emotions, what emotions mean, and the kind of information they provide towards being able to work well with others.

The Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), is an assessment tool that measures and tests aspects of EI. This analysis concentrates on knowledge and rarely on the ability to perform the tasks related to the knowledge measured.

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Unlike the past when all a person needed was intelligence in order to be successful, the present day scenario has made EI mandatory for success; way above intelligence quotient (IQ). Both managers and employees should be capable of managing themselves as well as other persons in order to be successful. Emotional intelligence is practical within a working environment if an individual handles the moods, emotions and impulses of other individuals with utmost sensitivity (Eisenberg, 2000).

According to Sutton (1991), emotions, both negative and positive play a vital role in an individual’s life, both in the workplace and at home. Excitement and satisfaction are common when an employee gets an appreciable hike, wins a contract or a promotion from the management.

However, frustration and anger prevails when an individual’s efforts are not appreciated by the right people. Emotions shoot up when an employee is pressured to work within stringent deadlines. Such stressing situations that are common within the context of a home or office, especially while dealing with different individuals, result from the inability to make intelligent assessment of the various possible emotions.

Emotional intelligence in the recent past has received considerable attention as potentially useful aspect in predicting and understanding an employee’s performance and success in the workplace.

According to Rotundo & Sackett, (2002), EI is a complex and multifaceted ability to be efficient and effective in majority of the life’s domains, as well as job success. Further, EI has been defined on the basis of competencies as a learned capability associated with emotional intelligence that translates to phenomenal performance in the place of work.

Cognitive intelligence

On the other hand, Cognitive intelligence is defined as the intellectual capabilities such as writing, reading, logic, analyzing, reason and prioritizing. Tests conducted to measure cognitive ability are used in performance analysis. Such tests are used to measure an individual’s ability to solve problems in various cognitive spheres. The distinction between emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence is evidenced in the psychometric tests of assessing cognitive ability and psychometric tests of intelligence (Sparrowe et al., 2001).

Cognitive intelligence as a latent trait is assessed by psychometric tests. The cognitive ability is also assessed by tests that change over time; varying on the age as well as intelligence.

Strengths of emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence

With reference to job performance, cognitive intelligence has been identified to relate to such job performance dimensions as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and task performance. While OCB involves activities that are vital in achieving the organization’s objectives, though not formally considered as part of a job, task performance concerns the primary substantive duties that are formally considered part of the job (Rotundo & Sackett, 2002).

Theoretically, cognitive intelligence fosters task performance through the knowhow of rules, procedures and facts relevant to the technical core of the job. It further enhances OCB through such aspects as rules, procedures and facts vital for effective cooperating, helping and endorsement for the organization.

Employees considered limited by their cognitive abilities may reconsider focusing on the benefits of high emotional intelligence as they often report low job performance in most jobs. With low job performance, there is a relatively larger room for correction and improvement.

For instance, a salesperson who fails to retain the interest of possible customers is likely to lower the possibility of mistakes in future. As such, failure to attain job performance through cognitive intelligence can be compensated for through complementary mechanisms under emotional intelligence. Some of the strengths of emotional intelligence are as follows:

First, complementary mechanisms include proficiency at identifying and understanding the emotions of other individuals. This is achievable within the working environment whereby organization members interact with coworkers, supervisors, support staff, and with outsiders such as patients, clients and customers. In the process of interacting, emotions are publicly displayed through vocal, facial and bodily signals that relay vital messages about their intentions, attitudes and goals (Sutton, 1991).

For individuals with low cognitive intelligence and high emotional intelligence, such pertinent information may be transformed to high risk performance. On the contrary, an individual with high cognitive intelligence and low emotional intelligence can accurately detect the publicly displayed emotions to facilitate interpersonal functioning and coordination necessary for enhancing task performance.

Additionally, information about other people’s intentions, attitudes and goals may be transformed into frequent OCB by individuals exhibiting low cognitive intelligence and high emotional intelligence. Such individuals can for instance depict the need for assistance for individuals exhibiting anxiety and sadness (Eisenberg, 2000).

Secondly, emotional intelligence can enhance job performance of low-cognitive-intelligence individuals’ through regulating emotional influences to cater for social relationships. If an employee generates and displays genuine emotions, rather than fake ones, he/she is likely to receive favorable reactions. Showing genuine concern for coworkers’ problems enable employees to develop stronger relationships than employees showing less concern.

To develop good social relationships, individuals with high emotional intelligence and low cognitive intelligence may use their abilities to manage emotions. With well established and strong social relationships, there are higher chances of enhancing task performance through advice and social support. Similarly, favourable working relationships will highly prompt employees to participate in OCB more often to the advantage of colleagues (Sparrowe et al., 2001).

Thirdly, job performance individuals with low cognitive intelligence can be enhanced by emotional intelligence through the effects of emotions on the individuals’ thoughts and actions. Individuals with low cognitive intelligence but intelligent emotionally can attain high levels of task performance and OCB in most jobs, by managing their emotions towards strengthening their motivation and quality of their decisions.

For instance understanding that anger leads individuals to undermine the level of risk in situations, prompts managers to suppress anger while in the process of making an important financial decision; thus portraying positive task performance. Similarly, an employee that understands the importance of positive emotions in enhancing motivation will boost positive emotions towards engaging in OCB (Gardner, 1983).

Although open for discussion, it has been proven that emotional intelligence will often relate to the job performance of an individual within the organization with low cognitive intelligence, and in turn compensate for the low cognitive intelligence. However, as cognitive intelligence increases, emotional intelligence should be less positively related with job performance.

Emotional intelligence is associated with certain benefits. Unlike in 1918, the Intelligence quotient (IQ) is now rated 24 points higher; a direct consequence of more schooling, better nutrition and smaller family sizes. However, emotional quotient (EQ) is lower between the two periods.

The low EQ is evidenced by the bahaviours common with kids in the current times; more aggressive, more angry and unruly, more lonely and depressed, nervous and prone to worry. Cases of crime and violence are on the rise, drug abuse is persisting, cases of alienation and despair rising, unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, eating disorders and even bullying (Wood et al., 2010).

In business and psychology, it has become a pass time to predict job performance. When the performance assessment is carried out comprehensively using data from subordinates, peers and superiors, EQ predicts a higher performance thrice as good as IQ. Emotional intelligence contributes up to 90 percent for leadership through the influence, team skills, self-confidence, political awareness and achievement drive. However, unsuccessful leaders we depicted as being angry, lacking empathy, moody, defensive and critical.

In corporate setting and blue collar occupations, emotional intelligence assessments have been employed in predicting success and failure. Furthermore, the assessments have been instrumental in predicting aggression in the workplace, academic dropout, ability to recover from severe mental conditions and ability to cope with extreme medical conditions (Eisenberg, 2000).

Limitations of emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence

Although many writers and scholars of intelligence have denoted the need for emotional intelligence as a necessary condition for effective leadership or productive leader-members relations, an empirical study to scrutinize this link suggests otherwise. Contention and issues of controversy touch on the definition and methods of measurement or predicting emotional intelligence; and what EI is supposed to measure or predict.

Although it allows us to maintain relationships and keep our actions under control, emotional intelligence is variously dismissed as being just another management concept.

More often than not, organizations encourage their employees to embrace emotional intelligence both during the hiring and development stages of their careers at the organisation. Individuals with low emotional intelligence view the move by the HR as an intrusion or hindrance into their personal lives. Consequently, emotional intelligence cannot be learned over night, but requires time and effort to learn and practice it correctly (Sosik & Megerian, 1999)

Unlike cognitive intelligence, that is measurable using psychometric tests, emotional intelligence is people ability and measurement of the social skills among individuals is a daunting task. Numerous analysis and effort is required in order for a successful analysis to be conclusive.

Cognitive ability and emotional intelligence in modern organisations

Organizations instituting leadership development programs depend on the feedback of coworkers to have a clue of how their leaders conduct themselves in the workplace. Variations exist in the results of employees’ self-ratings compared to the ratings by their supervisors, coworkers and subordinates. Management development often focuses on primary skills, abilities and knowledge that are considered fundamental to high-performing individuals or effective leadership behavior.

The important leader behaviours are defined and acknowledged in a way that allows for their assessment and feeding back to the individual. Once an analysis of the key traits is done, the concerned individual is motivated to increase their understanding of areas of strength and weakness, in turn driving the development of improved leadership behaviour (Conway & Huffcutt, 1997).

In an effort to improve the organization as well as the individual’s performance, organizations invest considerable resources into skill development the individuals on the management level and above. As expected, increase in the return on investment points to the progressive employee development strategies.

In addition to the management of skill development during a management-development initiative, it is important to consider the skills an organization terms crucial for improvement. Organizations are guaranteed of better performing leaders championing for higher returns on investment if investment in the right skills is successful (Wood et al., 2010).

In a similar tone, the lines of intelligence testing movement are adhered to by roots of emotional intelligence. Various forms of intelligences such as social intelligence or the ability to act wisely towards other individuals exist. This aspect of intelligence has since its conception been a daunting task to measure, compared to measuring an individual’s cognitive abilities.

Despite the challenges, attempts to measure social intelligence have established that it is composed of three aspects: social knowledge, attitude toward society and degree of social judgment (Gardner, 1983). Further research was instrumental in coining of the concept emotional intelligence, as the presence of cognitive ability.

It was a few years later that emotional intelligence was brought to the mainstream public and was quickly embraced by the leadership development community. Organization value emotional intelligence as it provides a framework for the measuring and designing of emotionally-based soft skills. According to Goleman et al (2002), emotional intelligence is designed for use in organizational theory, research and practice to develop effectiveness of individuals both in leadership positions and workplace.

Emotional intelligence in organizational outcomes has also been correlated with performance; and especially with linkage to leadership performance. Research conducted by Sosik and Megerian (1999) established leaders with high emotional intelligence performed better than their low emotional intelligence colleagues. Performance on job-related cognitive ability tasks have also been linked with emotional intelligence.

A survey conducted in 1997 on benchmark was conducted on various corporations. From the survey, Goleman (1998) discovered 80 percent of companies focused on trying to promote emotional intelligence in their employees through training and development. While it was implemented during the recruiting and evaluation processes, almost 90 percent of desired traits for entry-level workers but were correlated with emotional intelligence.

Following the results of various studies conducted across corporations the world over; it was conclusive that evidence pointed to the importance of emotional intelligence for the entry and success in the workplace today. Similarly, inclusion of emotional intelligence competencies is important as concluded by the agricultural education research.

Goleman (1998) further argues that in order to apply emotional intelligence in the workplace, two set of competencies ought to exist: personal and social. Similarly, a divergent view postulates that eight factors should be considered while implementing emotional intelligence in an organization. These reservations arise because individuals differ in the abilities to handle emotions; while others may manage personal emotions and anxieties well, handling other people’s emotions might prove impossible.

As such, researchers have concluded that individuals’ underlying basis for their levels of ability is neutral. Additionally, the human brain is considered plastic; ready to learn at every given opportunity. Variations in emotional skills can be compensated especially if the concerned parties are willing to take up the task.

References

Conway, J.M. & Huffcutt, A.I. (1997). Psychometric properties of multisource performance ratings: a meta-analysis of subordinate, supervisor, peer and self-ratings. Human Performance. 10, 331-360.

Eisenberg, N. (2000). “Emotion, regulation, and moral development.” Annual Review of Psychology. 51: 665–697.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basis Books.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. London.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Harvard Business School Press: Boston.

Rotundo, M. & Sackett, P. R., (2002). “The relative importance of task, citizenship, and counterproductive performance to global ratings of job performance: A policy-capturing approach.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 87: 66–80.

Sosik, J. J. & Megerian, L. E. (1999). Understanding leader emotional intelligence and performance: the role of self-other agreement on transformational leadership perceptions. Group and Organization Management. 24, 367-390.

Sparrowe, R. T., Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J. & Kraimer, M. L. (2001). “Social networks and the performance of individuals and groups.” Academy of Management Journal. 44: 316–325.

Sutton, R. I. (1991). “Maintaining norms about expressed emotions: The case of bill collectors.” Administrative Science Quarterly. 36: 245–268.

Wood, J., Zeffane, R., Fromholtz, M., Wiesner, R., Creed, A., Schermerhorn, J., et al. (2010). Organisational behaviour: Core concepts and applications (2nd ed.). Brisbane: John Wiley and Sons.