Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Sara Knapp

Post by Sara Knapp, Executive Coach

For many years, I thought that showing everyone that I was smart and right was the name of the game. As my career progressed, I started to clue into the fact that managing myself and others mattered, too. But I saw it as a zero-sum game: either getting results or being great with people. 

I told myself I wasn't there to make friends; I was there to get things done. And I did. But the hard way, and at a cost that I wasn't fully aware of at the time. I can recall emotional intelligence being mentioned just once in my education and professional training -- never mind learning about the tools and strategies that underpin it. 

The lack of attention it received just convinced me even more that being right, being smart, and using facts, logic, and great PowerPoint to influence and persuade people was a path to being an effective and successful leader. Had I been honest with myself and paid attention to what was going on around me, I would have realized the flaw in my logic. 

The people at the top -- the leaders I admired, the managers I aspired to be like -- were rarely the ones with the most impressive intellects. No. They were the ones who made me want to follow them. They were the ones with the charisma; the ones who made me feel heard and valued; the ones who made me feel they were invested in my growth and “had my back”; the ones that made leadership look easy. 

I know now that they were the ones who had highly developed emotional intelligence, and knew how to use it. If you are now where I was then, and think that your intellect is enough, think again. It’s never too late to learn a better way to interact with people, to engage them and win them over. And the way that’s most worthwhile -- and effective -- is with the development and skillful application of good emotional intelligence.