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Emotional Intelligence – the key to personal and professional success

In a time when automation, AI and robots are replacing humans in many jobs, it is vital to highlight our human abilities and build on those competences that separate us from machines. Thus, emotional intelligence has become more important than ever before!


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Eva Holmberg

Yrkeshögskolan Novia

Published : 13.09.2022

According to the World Economic Forum (2016), emotional intelligence is ranked as one of the top-10 most important workplace skills. It was the American psychologist and author Daniel Goleman who made the emotional intelligence (EQ) famous for the general public in the 1990s, and ever since, it has been seen as a key competence for personal and professional success.

The Cambridge dictionary defines EQ as being aware of, controlling and expressing one’s emotions and handling interpersonal relationships empathetically.

The importance of emotional intelligence

In a time, when automation, AI and robots are replacing humans in many jobs, it is vital to highlight our human abilities and build on those competences that separate us from machines. Thus, EQ has become more important than ever before.

It has also come up in the trainings and seminars of the SUCSESS project as an important employability skill for graduates to have and to stand out in the recruitment process. People with high EQ can easily adapt to new environments and can use their emotions to navigate in complex organizations typical for the jobs of today.

As practically all jobs require collaboration, working with people who are emotionally intelligent is a joy. They are easy to work with as they do not act impulsively or based on their emotional state of the moment.

Emotionally intelligent people can identify, name and understand the emotions they are feeling. They control their behaviour and reflect on their actions. They have good social skills as they are interested in others and understand how other people are feeling. They have compassion, show empathy and offer support to others. People with high EQ get along with others and thus, make good team managers.

Emotionally intelligent individuals are life-long-learners who strive to grow as human beings and develop themselves as professionals. They have a growth mindset, as expressed in the book Mindset – The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck (2016).

How to foster and enhance EQ

There are different strategies to build emotional intelligence. For example, Daniel Goleman suggests in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) that people who want to develop their EQ start working with

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship management

According to Goleman’s model, EQ is enhanced by working on, for instance, becoming aware of and understanding your strengths and weaknesses, practicing empathy and gratitude, and having fun. The continuous development of ones EQ will result in tools to succeed professionally.

The development of EQ often begins on an individual level. However, teachers should work with students’ emotional intelligence in school settings, especially if there are conflicts in a group of students. By discussing emotions and brainstorming different reactions to them, everyone’s EQ can improve.

Coming next: Experiential Intelligence (XQ)

EQ is not the end of it, though. We need to be aware of a new emerging form of intelligence, experiential intelligence (XQ). Whereas emotional intelligence is about emotional understanding and an ability to empathise with others, experiential intelligence is the combination of mindsets, abilities, and know-how gained from life experiences that help us to achieve our goals.

In short, XQ is the ability to invent new ideas and solutions when dealing with new situations by being able to use existing knowledge and skills to deal with new problems.

We all have unique professional and personal backgrounds. We have gained different life experiences as well. If we gain insight into how our experiences influence our performance, we can learn to use these insights to our advantage both in our business and personal relationships.

Teams consisting of people with diverse XQ and a high dose of EQ can increase collaboration, innovation and achieve great things!

An upcoming book on XQ:

  • Kaplan, S. Released in January, 2023. Experiential Intelligence: Harness the Power of Experience for Personal and Business Breakthroughs.