More often than not, our competitiveness as engineers are commonly measured by our IQ or Intelligence Quotient. After all, it is that number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person, assessing one’s ability to think and reason.
But that is not the only important aspect that engineers should be worried about. There is an equally, or even more important basis of an engineer’s success: emotional intelligence.
EI is defined as our ability to recognize and manage our emotions as well as those of others, and to channel to emotions to problem-solving or decision-making tasks. It is made up 4 core skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, which relate to personal competence and social competence.
Decades of research have shown that emotional intelligence is a crucial factor for success. Findings reveal that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.
This is not really surprising since emotional intelligence predicts performance. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence along with 33 other important workplace skills, and discovered that EI is the strongest predictor of performance.
How so? Because emotional intelligence is the foundation for critical skills, says TalentSmart. That includes time management, decision making, empathy, team work, presentation skills, communication, accountability, and trust, among others. All of these critical skills when in sync with the IQ makes the engineers in their best versions.
The lack of EI has been proven to be a liability, if you ask leadership coach Kenton R. Hill. He has worked with doctors and engineers in the past 25 years, and realized the EI is the lacking ingredient for success in most of them.
The professionals with whom Hill has worked with have had trouble conveying their ideas, working in teams, and getting people to trust them, among other problems. Some have found that their anxieties or their inability to understand others’ emotions have jeopardized their careers.
Can emotional intelligence be fixed? Yes. It can be learned according to engineer turned career coach Rich St. Denis.
“First you should study yourself,” he says. “Understand your emotional triggers, your so-called ‘hot buttons,’ as well as what drives and motivates you.” That, he explains, can help you understand how your emotions and behavior affect other people.
By understanding one’s self better, he or she can begin to understand others better as well.
But St. Denis underscores that improving one’s EI does not generally come instantly or easily. It usually takes time to practice, seek feedback from your and others, and keep at it. It is a commitment.