November 2014: recently, Ellwood Atfield, in partnership with Question and Retain (Q&R), hosted a sabre-rattling debate around the value of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the recruitment process and workplace.

Joined by some of the UK industry’s leading lights in the field of communications including Three, GSK and Centrica, the discussion fell onto some broad topics around the types of intelligence we use in the work place. As one panelist observed, it’s not just about EQ alone but also the other ‘intelligences’ we have within us, specifically: social intelligence, intuitive intelligence and of course, IQ itself.

Taking EQ as a separate entity, what did we learn from those in the room?

Perhaps it’s about following in the footsteps of Heineken’s founder, and acknowledging his assertion that his company doesn’t sell beer, it sells feeling. And as another panellist commented, ‘The reality is that many companies today run in a very ‘unemotional’ way. They are rational entities geared to delivering the best financial performance possible in very competitive markets. So it’s hard to find a place for EQ to fit in or quantify its value.”

So where does EQ ‘fit in’?

Perhaps it is at a team level that we see more instances of the value of EQ. Building rare personal bonds between members of that team will have a dizzying effect on how that team performs. The more you like and respect the people you work with and for, the more you will invest in your role. Equally, it was argued that those who know how to manage their emotions in the workplace tended to be more successful. Turning to Daniel Goleman, Psychologist & Author of (among others) the New York Times bestseller ‘Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.’, he summizes:

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

So can you improve your EQ?  

It was tabled that you can improve your EQ but not by reading ‘the right book.’ Time must be invested in coaching, training, real practice and reinforcement – and most importantly, the individual must have an innate willingness to change their approach and how they interact. Daniel Goleman again says that, “People tend to become more emotionally intelligent as they age and mature.” So perhaps EQ is best evaluated at the senior end of the recruitment process.

So how do you take your new and improved EQ into the work place?

A delicate set of skills is required to make this happen. You need to show empathy because it is a fundamental competency in the craft of communications to be able to acknowledge the ‘reactions in the room’. It’s easy to judge outcomes and see these as strategic but it’s being able to pick up on those softer messages that makes all the difference.

The Harvard Business Review called emotional intelligence— which discounts IQ as the sole measure of one’s abilities — “a revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea”. Perhaps now we are beginning to see more companies taking notice of it and not dismiss it as ‘fluffy’ or irrelevant.

Gavin Ellwood, Director, Ellwood Atfield, notes, “Being able to trust your instincts in a senior communications role is fundamental because it gives you an edge on your relationships and command over the outputs of all that you do. We believe EQ will become an increasingly desirable asset in the skills mix and sought after – particularly in the realm of IC.”

And to conclude with Mr Goleman, “The more socially intelligent you are, the happier and more robust and more enjoyable your relationships will be.” So a double whammy for the individual – both professionally and personally.

“EQ in IC. How important is it?”

Ellwood Atfield Gallery, November 11th, 2014

Guest Speakers:

Liam FitzPatrick, Managing Partner, Agenda Strategies
Howard Krais, Director of Communications, GSK
Hannah Elizabeth Greenwood, Managing Director, Cascad
Jane Atkin, Senior Communications advisor
Hugh Davies, Director of Corporate Affairs, Three
Gabe Winn, Corporate Affairs Director, Centrica Energy

Further reading: