The 15 Competencies that Underpin Emotional Intelligence

Written by Lynn Bennett on .

“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.” – Dr. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author

Our accomplishments in school and our scores on IQ tests contribute to our attractiveness as job candidates, but IQ alone is not an accurate predictor of job performance. It accounts for 25 (and, according to some researchers, as little as 4) percent of the variance in professional success. Emotional intelligence is as much as four times more important when predicting one’s success. And that’s good. We can move our IQ perhaps by a few points; we can expand our EQ much more significantly. When we are aware of the competencies that underpin EQ, we can work to develop and strengthen our capacity for emotional intelligence.

Dr. Reuven Bar-On, a pioneer in the field of emotional intelligence, developed the EQ-I Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory. It measures 5 categories with 15 total competencies:

  • Intrapersonal: Assertiveness. Self-regard. Self-actualization. Independence. Emotional self-awareness.
  • Interpersonal: Interpersonal relationships. Social Responsibility. Empathy.
  • Adaptability: Problem-solving. Reality testing. Flexibility.
  • Stress Management: Impulse Control. Stress Tolerance.
  • General Mood:Happiness. Optimism.

Focusing on these competencies is important for leaders because it corrals the enormous concept of emotional intelligence and begins to tame it for us. When we engage with others we can quickly get into a place of judgment. “You don’t care what I or anyone else has to say – you never listen.” That statement is very obviously a judgment, and is likely not to be received well! It is also virtually useless. What does it even mean?

We might say instead, “You are a blurter. Your inability to control your impulse to talk is quite disruptive. It takes away from others being able to contribute and engage in the conversation. And, more importantly for you it takes away from any powerful message that you want or need to deliver at some point. You need to be aware of how you show up all the time so when you really need to show up well, you do.”

This, while it may sting initially, is much more useful to the person who wants to improve his/her emotional intelligence and performance in the workplace. A specific area of low self-awareness is identified – being unable to resist the urge to blurt out statements at meetings – and it can be addressed. It is not amorphous; instead, it is actionable.

By understanding the competencies of emotional intelligence, we have the opportunity to increase our EQs. We can create new habits and change the way we approach situations. This will only improve our level of success in our work, and in our lives.

Lynn Bennett

Lynn Bennett

Lynn Bennett is a certified management and executive coach and founder of Leadership Intelligence and its Community. She brings both expertise and an engaging approach to strategic planning, organizational development and change management. lynn@leadershipintelligence.com

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