The Highlands Company Blog

Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

managing your career map

managing your career mapAn article in Fortune described many of the issues individuals need to think about when managing their own careers. According to the article, there is a great deal of anxiety in the workplace. Of more than 100,000 managers polled by International Survey Research:

  • 37% said they were “frequently concerned about being laid off” – the highest anxiety level in decades.
  • 40% of managers said they could not count on keeping their jobs even if they performed well.
  • Almost 50% of those surveyed were seriously worried about their employers’ future.

There is also a lot of indecision and confusion about direction. The article cited a Gallup Organization survey of employed, college educated adults found that 33% of those surveyed said they would, if given the chance to start all over again, opt for a different line of work.

The Emotional Intelligence Factor

A large part of another Fortune piece focused on EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – which is the title of the best-selling book by Daniel Goleman. The thesis of this book is that there is much more to success than a high IQ. In fact, having a high EQ may be more critical benchmark of how well one does in the workplace. In a sentence, EQ is the power not only to understand and make use of one’s own emotions but also to understand and respond to them in others.

Gary Klein, a Ph.D. who does research in applied cognitive psychology for the military, describes how intuitive decision making works: “People with years of experience quickly recognize a pattern of information that might mean nothing to a novice. The novice would attack the problem by considering, analytically, many possible solutions. The experienced person, by contrast, sees a possible solution immediately – not the best solution, maybe, but one that works.”

Shoshana Zuboff, a Harvard Business School professor, says that organizations that don’t trust intuition are making a mistake. “So many people go awry because they use sterile analytic tools.” 

The Gut Is the Practical Site of Decision Making. How Do You Make It Smarter? 

Dr. Klein responds: “There is not presently a strategy that teaches people how to be better decision-makers because what distinguishes the better ones is their body of experience.”

Smartness, then, lies in gaining more experience – as much relevant experience as you can get your hands on.

And, finally, Ellen Hart of Gemini Consulting thinks one of the smartest things an employee can do is to assume full management of his or her own career. Keeping a job, any job, is not after all the test of smartness. Smartness lies in making sure your intellectual and emotional abilities are matched to a job that promotes their growth. If EQ and IQ are telling you your job no longer fits, it may be time to ask yourself: Is your job smart enough to keep you?