The science of people skills: Measuring emotional intelligence

If we want to measure the effectiveness of organizations, we need to be able to measure people skills.

A group of people talking in front of a brain with speech bubbles.

Organizational effectiveness depends on the people in them. Leadership, teamwork, human resources, customer service, psychological safety, and sales require human interactions. Since humans are social and emotional beings, effective human interactions require emotional skills. This explains why the performance of organizations can be traced to how individuals within the organization communicate, approach and handle differences, connect to the mission of the organization, and build respectful working relationships with each other. 

If we want to measure the effectiveness of organizations, we need to be able to measure people skills. We each have our own informal ways of measuring people skills. For example, we might form an assessment of someone as a ‘ natural leader’, a ‘trusted friend’ or a ‘difficult employee’. But beyond this informal process, is it possible to scientifically measure people skills? Yes. Enter the EQ-i, the world’s first scientifically validated measure of emotional intelligence.

This science of measuring emotional skills began in the early 80’s

In the early 80’s, Dr. Reuven Bar-On observed that some people with high IQ scores seem to struggle with life while others with average IQ scores thrive. To understand this difference, Dr. Bar-On conducted extensive research to understand the role of emotions in work and life. His research clearly demonstrated that there is a set of emotional competencies that explain many aspects of human behaviour.

This research led to the creation of an assessment of emotional and social functioning, which is not measured by IQ tests. Bar-On called the assessment the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i – now the EQ-i 2.0).

Dr. John Mayer and Dr. Peter Salovey used the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ for the first time in an academic journal article nine years after the initial work on the EQ-i. Dr. Daniel Goleman was inspired by the work of Bar-On, Mayer and Salovey and others to publish Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1995) which contributed to emotional intelligence being recognized world-wide.

Emotions are critical 

While it is more widely accepted now, we didn’t always view the application of cognitive processes as influenced by emotions. Even if emotions seem to be in the background, neuroscience research demonstrates that our brains are processing emotional data as significant information. They play a critical and central role in managing and expressing ourselves, optimizing our relationships and communication, effectively handling stress and making sound decisions, handling change and demonstrating empathy. As an example, consider the range of emotions that might be involved in decision making, e.g. excitement, worry, passion, fear, etc. In other words, emotions are present in all human behaviour and interactions. It is actually impossible to operate without emotions. 

The EQ-i model of emotional intelligence offers a way to understand and develop how to be more intelligent about emotions and how to be more effective and happier as a result.

The EQ-i is designed as an instrument to bring the significance of emotions to the foreground, and provide a systematic way for individuals to take stock of how they are using emotions in a broad range of relationships and circumstances. Results demonstrate areas of emotional competency and areas that require individuals to build more capacity in that EQ skill. 

The EQ-i 2.0 is a model of 15 competencies and skills

In the EQ-i model, Bar-On identified 15 emotional competencies in five categories that highly correlate with human effectiveness and wellbeing, and applies to all aspects of work and life. The five categories or composite scales are 1) Self-Perception; 2) Self-Expression; 3) Interpersonal; 4) Decision-Making; and 5) Stress Management

These EQ-i competencies are robust skills that offer insight and a concrete path to improving human performance and wellbeing. The more adeptly we recognize and incorporate emotional information, the more effective and satisfied we will be across all aspects of our lives.

EQ-i in action

While the research is compelling, those of us who conduct training and coaching in organizations are interested in its application. 

Early adopters such as New Zealand Telecom identified that the EQ-i could help them identify high performing leaders and assist them to develop leaders for the future. They categorized 70 senior leaders into high and low performance groups based on established leadership performance indicators. High performers had significantly higher EQ-i scores than the lower performers. The EQ-i study resulted in significant bottom line findings that New Zealand Telecom now integrates into their training and coaching initiatives. 

Several other organizations including American Express, CIBC, the US Air Force, and the Center for Creative Leadership, were early leaders in implementing emotional intelligence programming and realizing the positive impact on their leadership. 

Today, the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0) has 40 years of research and data collection to support its contribution to leadership and organizational effectiveness, as well as to the science of human development. The World Economic Forum has added emotional intelligence to its list of top employment skills. Nike, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have all incorporated the EQ-i 2.0 into their leadership development programming. Leading business schools in the world, including INSEAD, Harvard, and Stanford, have a course on Emotional Intelligence as it relates to leadership. 

We believe in the power of the EQ-i 2.0

The EQ-i 2.0 is a powerful tool that can measure people skills using a scientifically validated model of emotional intelligence skills. Relying on the science of people skills has become part of the foundation upon which many successful organizations depend. 

Because the EQ-i 2.0 works so well to help clients get to the heart of what matters, it is an ideal tool for leadership training and coaching. And it is the reason that The Emotional Intelligence Training Company (EITC) has been using the EQ-i 2.0 and the EQ 360 for almost 25 years with leaders and organizations around the globe. 

EITC specializes in emotional intelligence development. We also certify others to be able to use the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 in their practice. We can be reached at .

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