Soft Skills for CIOs and Aspiring CIOs: Four Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

We are emotional beings first and intellectual ones second, say researchers. That's why developing your emotional intelligence is so important.

By Diann Daniel
Mon, June 25, 2007

CIO — Emotional intelligence and "soft" skills are musts for today's CIOs and other IT workers. From entry-level coders to those in the C-suite, few people have the luxury of a lone wolf mentality. Research shows it's your soft skills and emotional intelligence (EI) that determines everything from whether you get promoted to how happy you are at work. Luckily, with knowledge, awareness and practice, you can boost your EI.

Emotions at Work
Although we may think we don't or shouldn't bring our emotional selves to work, the truth is a bit different. For one thing, people want to hire, promote and simply be around people they like, those who are confident, even-keeled, optimistic, committed, trustworthy. Think of a boss you loved and one you hated and think why. Chances are in neither case was technical ability the determining factor of how you felt, says Daniel Goleman, co-chairman of The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. "One had EI and the other didn't."

Scientists continue looking into the nuances of emotional intelligence in the workplace, but by the late 1990s research had established its baseline importance. For example, one-third of the difference between average and top performers was due to technical skill and cognitive ability while two-thirds was due to emotional competence, according to a study by Goleman of 200 companies worldwide. In top leadership positions, that difference was four-fifths. In another study of a global food and beverage company, divisions led by emotionally intelligent senior managers (as measured by Goleman's research tools) outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20 percent. "If you look at specific abilities, competencies that set star performers apart from average ones, technical skill is not even in the top three," says Goleman.

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