The concept of emotional intelligence and its impact on a firm's efficiency has fast gained recognition. Caroline Horn offers a guide to converting emotion into action
Personal qualities and people skills such as empathy and self-knowledge - otherwise known as emotional intelligence - are increasingly being seen as good for business. Colin Selby, director of business psychology consultancy Selby MillSmith, des-cribes emotional intelligence as "the capacity for self-awareness and the capability to sympathise, which is linked to how a person manages their behaviour and skills they use at work." Since US psychologist Daniel Goleman applied the term to the workplace in 1996 (Emotional Intelligence - why it can matter more than IQ), interest in the concept has grown with a number of studies into its positive effect on areas such as leadership skills, managing change and staff retention.
Tim Sparrow, course director at the Centre for Applied Emotional Intelligence, says, "There has been a distinct change in the approach to emotional intelligence over the past 18 months. To begin with, after people found it was measurable, they were interested in simply developing it and it was seen as the answer to everyone's prayers. Now, people are more interested in what you can do, how you can use emotional intelligence and how you can intervene to do something about it. At senior levels, it is correlated with effective performance and, because it is recognised it is can be developed, that you can get a long-term effect."
He adds, "People are also now more aware that emotional intelligence is not one thing - it is made up of lots of related things. Early tests tended to give you a figure of your "EQ" which was unhelpful have different strengths in different areas and what is important is that shape, rather than "you are good at this or that.'"
Goleman believes that emotional intelligence covers a number of aspects of personality, including self-awareness, emotional management, self-motivation, empathy, relationship management, communication skills and personal style.
A number of studies are also under way to show how such skills can affect an organisation's growth and how companies can d