Significance of Emotional Intelligence: Why is EQ Important?

  • By Kirti Yadav
  • 24 May 2021
Learn the significance of emotional intelligence | Sunstone

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The World Economic Forum ranks emotional quotient (also known as "emotional intelligence," or EI) as sixth in the top ten qualities that workers would need to succeed in their workplace. Daily course of action of employers, such as promotions, recruiting, and firing staff, are influenced by the emotional quotient (EQ).

Despite the importance that EQ holds in our personal and professional lives, very few actually pay attention to it, or worse, very few actually know about it.

So what exactly is EQ? What effect would it have on your career advancement and ability to engage with teams and friends, as well as your physical and mental health? Let’s take a deep dive into the subject.

What is ‘Emotional quotient’?

‘Emotion’ encompasses a diverse variety of actions, expressing emotions, and mental and physical changes. Our feelings, emotions, and preferences add a certain meaning to our lives and determine our happiness and satisfaction levels.

Emotional Quotient or EQ, is the capacity to comprehend and efficiently manage one’s own feelings and emotions, and also of the ones you interact with. People with a sound emotional quotient are usually aware of how they feel, what the significance of their emotions is and how their feelings can affect others.

With the publication of Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Should Matter More Than IQ in 1995, interest in emotion psychology and the philosophy of emotional quotient/intelligence exploded.

According to Daniel Goleman there are five key elements to Emotional Quotient:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Emotional Intelligence | The Neurosurgical Atlas, by Aaron Cohen-Gadol, M.D.

Goleman stressed that emotional intelligence was crucial for forecasting life achievement. The idea drew the interest of the general public, including human resource managers and corporate executives quite rapidly. 

Why is Emotional Quotient (EQ) important?

“Emotions are a critical source of information for learning.”

-Joseph LeDoux

Emotional intelligence is generally acknowledged as a critical ability that aids in the improvement of conversation, management, problem-solving, and interpersonal relationships in the workplace. 

Imagine yourself as the leader of an organization. You have all the required technical skills, however, you are not compassionate towards your employees. Do you think the lack of sound emotional intelligence would make the working environment conducive for growth and success?

More than anything else, having a sound emotional quotient is of utmost importance for leaders to achieve success in any field. Though conventional intelligence has been linked to a person’s performance as a leader, it has never been sufficient on its own. People who succeed at work are not only associated with intelligence but are also likely to have a high EQ.

Having a sound emotional quotient isn't solely for CEOs and senior executives though, it's a skill that's valued at almost all levels of a person's career, from young students applying for internships to experienced employers aspiring to advance to a management position. Emotional intelligence is the key to progress in the workplace and to climb up the career ladder.

Emotional Intelligence in Sales is the New High-Performance Differentiator

It’s common sense that a person who loses their cool and yells at their colleagues when they are under pressure is less likely to succeed and be respected than someone who is able to keep their emotions under control, thus analysing a situation through the lens of rationality.

Therefore it is not a surprise that in a survey by Career Builder, almost three-quarters (71%) of recruiting managers preferred an employee's EQ to their IQ. A further three-quarter (75%) said that they would most likely promote someone with a high level of emotional intelligence. More than half of the respondents (59%) admitted that they would not recruit anyone with a high IQ but a low EQ.


Why is EQ Important for Managers

If a manager lacks EQ, most employees won't like working with him/her. This may lead to a demotivated team which will result in a loss of productivity.

Managers should always back up their team members and help them out in difficult circumstances. This leads to building mutual trust between the manager and the team.

Why EQ is Important for Employees

People with high EQ are considered future leaders for companies. In fact, it is one of the most important factors for managers to decide who to promote.

Recruiters' assessment of High EQ

The following qualities are the differentiating factors between people with high EQ and people with low EQ, which understandably make people with higher EQ more desirable, especially in the work sphere.

EQ in the times of COVID

The testing times amid the coronavirus pandemic have brought up the importance of a leader's emotional quotient (EQ). Future instability, working from home, depression, anxiety, homeschooling, and adjusting to the modern means of connectivity are all putting us to test.

The pandemic has come up with an unforeseen challenge for the leaders: to steer teams through taxing periods of hopelessness and no definite end in sight. During such a time, managing emotions effectively, and having a positive influence on life as well as a professional career has gained prime
importance. As a result of this, one may be more responsive to how people are feeling. Consequently, you will be in a better position to deal with other individuals calmly, confidently, and compassionately.

Four primary challenges have been identified where EQ plays a big role in the times we are living in.

  1. Dealing with anxiety and apprehension

Leaders today must consider and resolve their own worries and anxieties, as well as the needs of others in the company. This is where one’s empathy comes into play.

Leaders must demonstrate that they appreciate and empathize with the difficult situations that employees face. Leaders need to be more constructive about dealing with their subordinates' fear. It's possible that people may not express their worries openly, which might pose a challenge to leaders trying to ease their colleagues.

  1. Making well-informed and decisive choices

Self-regulation is critical to one’s being, as it allows you to rise to the major obstacles and opportunities that life offers, and have faith in your ability to exercise power. Having faith in your own decision and being able to act upon it, is a critical component.

Working from home makes some feel isolated and alone. Thus, by demonstrating self-regulation and self-motivation, leaders can inspire their peers to do the same. It is important to be able to get things done while still making difficult decisions.

It is not easy to exclude emotion from decision-making nor it is condoned. Taking a decision necessitates both feelings and logic. The trick to making confident decisions is to reconcile your emotional and analytical reactions.

High-EQ leaders strike a balance by embracing uncertainty and reaching a decision amidst such uncertainty.

  1. Communicating negative news 

There will always be some information that leaders may find problematic to share with their teams, peers, and managers. Yet again, empathy comes in handy here. Furthermore, leaders may take unusual steps to ensure this is done successfully and with care.

Always plan out what you have to say, and try to give context to what you are trying to communicate. Emotionally charged responses from your peers should always be handled with utmost care and understanding. Last but not the least, always offer to help with what can be done next in light of negative news.

  1. Inspiring and motivating people

Happiness is one of the most important traits that have a significant impact on our lives. It should not imply that one has to be happy all the time, instead, it refers to being able to find opportunities even in difficult times.

As Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light."

Leaders can foster optimism within their team members by:

a) Stressing on the positives despite discovering difficulties faced by their team members. Inspiring and motivating people in such times is very important.

b) Discussing attributes and strengths. Highlight an individual's, or a team's talents that can help overcome challenges and lead to success.

c) Inspiring others to envision success. Strive to explain things in a manner that will invoke their imagination and l give a good vision of what they're striving for.

9 Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence
Source: Very Well

How do you develop emotional intelligence?

While the IQ of an individual remains almost the same over a lifetime, EQ does not. You can improve your EQ with some effort. Besides having a positive impact on your work life, it will also boost your general happiness and wellbeing. Following are the key elements of EQ as identified by Daniel Goleman, which can help leaders improve their EQ:

  1. Self-awareness

“It is important for young entrepreneurs to be adequately self-aware to know what they do not know.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

When you are in a state of self-awareness, you'll always be conscious of how you're feeling and the impact your emotions and actions can have on people around you. When you're in a leadership role, being self-aware often means getting a good understanding of your abilities and shortcomings, as well as acting with utmost humility.

So, how can you increase your self-awareness?

a) Start maintaining a journal – Keeping a journal will help you become more self-aware. Spending just a few minutes per day, writing down your feelings will help you get a better understanding of yourself.

b) Try slowing down – Whether you're experiencing rage or other intense feelings, take a moment and think about why you're feeling that way. Remember, that no matter what the situation is, it is you who still has the power to decide how you respond.

  1. Self-regulation

“The main factor behind success is self-control.”

-Rig Veda

Leaders who are able to efficiently control their emotions are less likely to physically threaten others, make rash or irrational choices, be stereotypical, or betray their beliefs. It's all about maintaining balance when it comes to self-regulation.

This aspect of emotional intelligence often includes a leader's ability to embrace change and dedication to personal responsibility and accountability.

So, what would you do to strengthen your power to self-regulate?

a) Try decoding your values - Do you have a firm grasp of the areas that you cannot compromise? Do you know what qualities you value the most? Devote some time to examining your "ethical code". When you know what matters to you the most, you won't have to second-guess yourself when faced with a moral or ethical dilemma, and more often than not, you will make the correct choice.

b) Try to take responsibility - If you have a habit of blaming people when things go wrong, stop yourself immediately. Make a vow to accept your faults along with the repercussions that accompany them. You'll not only be at peace with yourself but also gain the confidence of those around you easily.

c) Try to remain cool - The next time you're confronted by a difficult situation, pay close attention to how you respond. Do you vent your frustrations by yelling at other people? Deep breathing exercises will help you relax and regain composure. Try writing down all of the negative words and emotions you wish to express, and just rip them up and discard them. It's always better to write down your feelings than to say them out loud in front of your colleagues and juniors, and then regret them later.

Emotional Intelligence HD Stock Images | Shutterstock

Credits: Shutterstock

  1. Motivation

“I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”

-Estee Lauder

Leaders who are self-motivated, strive consistently for their objectives and hold themselves to incredibly high expectations for the consistency of their work.

What would you do to boost your motivation?

a) Try to examine why you're working - It's easy to lose sight of what you truly like about your job. So, think about why you chose this job in the first place. Starting from the beginning will make you see the condition in a different light. Besides that, make sure the goal statements are up-to-date and motivating.

b) Try to determine where you stand – Always be brutally honest with yourself and appraise your situation with facts. 

c) Be optimistic and see something positive - No matter what challenges they encounter, motivated leaders are usually upbeat. It may take some time to develop this mentality, but it is worth the time and effort.

d) Try to find at least one positive aspect in every problem you face, whether it's a challenge or a loss. It may be something as minor as a new contact, or something more crucial such as a significant lesson learned. But if you look for it, you'll almost always find something good.

  1. Empathy 

“Empathy is one of the greatest tools of business that is most underused.”

-Daniel Lubetzky

Empathy is important for leaders to have and manage a strong and successful team or organisation. Empathetic leaders have the skill to put themselves in some else’s shoes. They assist in the development of their team members, challenge unfair behaviour, provide positive input and
lend a ready ear to those in need.

If you wish to win your team's respect and allegiance, prove to them that you care by being empathetic.

What would you do to increase your empathy?

a) Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone else - While easy to defend your own viewpoint, take the opportunity to consider the circumstances from the viewpoints of others.

b) Try to pay attention to your body language - Do you cross your arms, shift your feet back and forth, or bite your lower lip while you're listening to someone? This body language communicates to others how you really feel, and it's not a positive message! In a leadership position, being able to read body language can be very useful because it allows you to determine how someone really feels. This enables you to react accordingly.

c) Try to respond to feelings - You request your colleague to work till late once more. He agrees, but you can hear his annoyance in his voice. So, answer by addressing his emotions. Tell him you admire his willingness to work long hours and that you're just as annoyed with staying late for work as he is.
If at all feasible, work out a way to make potential late nights less of an issue (for example, give him a weekday morning off).

  1. Social Skills

“Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.”

-Daniel Goleman

Being an excellent communicator is a primary quality of a leader who excels at the social skills component of emotional intelligence. This includes the skill to recognize jokes, sarcasm, hold onto friendships and relationships as well as share a common ground with others. Good communicators are ones who are just as willing to receive negative news as they are willing to receive good news, and they're masters at rallying their troops behind them and making them excited about a new project, task, or idea.

Leaders with strong social skills are also adept at handling transition and diplomatically settling crisis. 

So, how can you improve your social skills?

a) Try to learn how to settle disputes – Leaders must be able to resolve conflicts amongst their colleagues, employees, customers/clients, or vendors. If you want to be effective, you must learn how to resolve conflicts.

b) Try to improve your listening skills – A good leader is not only a good speaker who can put his thoughts across but is one who also gives enough space and time to people to express themselves in front of him. They are always willing to listen to suggestions and complaints and acting on them.

c) Try to learn to compliment people – As a leader, you have an opportunity to reinforce your team's loyalty by praising them when they deserve it. It takes practice to master the art of praising others, but it is well worth the effort!


No matter what field you are in, having an emotional compass is a necessity. Like our homes, workplaces too are a part of our social environment. Various personality types, emotions and talent, are intertwined with each other to achieve a common goal for the organization. 

You would be more efficient and able to create more productive relationships around yourself if you improve your EQ. Emotional Intelligence is vital because it is inherent to who we are, and it affects
every aspect of our lives, most importantly the workplace.

As a famous quote goes, “IQ may get you hired, but EQ will get you promoted.” So, while you hone your technical skills, do not forget to let go of your emotional faculties.

emotional intelligence: What makes Emotional Quotient important for career  growth - The Economic Times

As a result, EQ is intricate to any workplace’s decision and operation. It's present in the team's simple instructions almost as much as it is in large-scale organizational reform. As a result, people with higher EQ usually manage the workplace more efficiently. Individuals with high EQ will create
and lead strong teams and be flexible when required. As a result, they successfully establish themselves as unalienable assets for the organization.

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