Thursday, March 22, 2007

Getting Emotional

After speaking at a recent event, one of the attendees was explaining how, in his view, despite the high intelligence and career achievements of many of the people present the majority of them had a low EQ, making it difficult for them to network effectively.

I had been acquainted with the idea of EQ instead of IQ, the power of emotional intelligence compared to what we traditionally classify as 'intellect', before. What I hadn't looked at before was its link to networking but surely there is a clear parallel.

When you look at the Wikepedia definition of EQ, as 'an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups', the link becomes clearer. After all, doesn't one's ability to network depend on your interpersonal skills?

In her 'Brazen Careerist' blog, Penelope Trunk describes Emotional Intelligence as 'the one skill you need for three key areas of career growth'. Describing Emotional Intelligence as the way you differentiate yourself at work in the new millenium, Trunk refers to Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female president of Harvard. According to Trunk, Faust's key qualification for the job is her ability to communicate well with a wide range of people, a notable shift from qualification-focused appointees in the past.

Last night I attended a Women's Social Leadership Awards event run by Ogunte Tribal Network and hosted by BT's Women's Executive Network. One of the speakers, Sofia Bustamante, talked about the power of networking for her and how traditional hierachy was being erased. Sofia shared with the audience her dislike of CVs for people applying for jobs and how they didn't really address the individual's skills and abilities. For Sofia, emotional intelligence, the ability to connect with others, is far more importance than work references.

While I am sure we won't see a sudden shift to all appointments being made purely on the basis of interpersonal skills or CVs being thrown out of the window; what is becoming clear is that the ability to make connections, develop rapport with individuals and with groups and to build a network is becoming more vital for people who either want to develop careers or build their own business.

Formal qualifications and functional ability remain important and will continue to be a key factor in career development. Accelerating personal achievement, however, will depend increasingly on the ability to connect with others, which is helped by strong emotional intelligence.

Penelope Trunk reference's Dan Pink's work 'A Whole New Mind' in her blog. In his book, Pink predicts the workplace of the new millennium will be about how people make connections.

“Key abilities will not be high tech but high touch.”


  1. Penny Haywood5:46 pm

    I had a recent direct experience of the power of EQ. I decided to appoint a new book-keeper on the basis of a great meeting that had us belly-laughing within the first 5 mins. After that meeting I realised she was about to handle our bank details, credit card statements etc and I hadn't asked for her address, references or rates. She supplied the lot within an hour of emailing her, and the referees came back quickly with glowing reports. It was clear she had carried plenty of responsibility, but they all focused on how nice she was to work with. Such is the power of being a thoroughly good egg and the trust it generates, that I am already talking about doing business with one of her referees.

  2. Hi, Andy. Thank you for linking to Brazen Careerist. You make a great point that neworking is essential not only for getting a job, but also for starting one's own business. Even entrepreneurs need to focus on networking.


  3. Hi Penelope

    In the UK, most people view 'networking' as solely for entrepreneurs. The idea of networking for career development is not widely accepted, at least not with that label attached!

    I think that it is recognised that the better connected you are, the more likely you are to get the best jobs but my impression is that the vast majority of people look at that ability in others, rather than taking the steps to improve their own networking and connections.