Cultivating Emotional Intelligence for the Future of the Profession

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Once upon a time, in a newsroom in the Southwestern part of the country, a crime reporter would frequently come into the newsroom in a rage—kicking his filing cabinet or throwing his reporter’s notebook.

Granted, constantly reporting on negative things isn’t good for a person’s mental health. But this particular reporter perhaps had problems with his emotional intelligence.

We’ve heard the notion before: emotional intelligence, or EQ, is likely more important than IQ when it comes to business success.

Emotional intelligence, a concept stemming from the 1995 Daniel Goleman book Emotional Intelligence, is a person’s ability to manage their emotions and relationships successfully.

According to Goleman in his 2004 Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes a Great Leader,” emotional intelligence has five elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

Emotional intelligence in both leaders and in new hires is key in keeping the financial planning profession one of high-quality client-first service, especially in an age where technology will only become more prevalent.

Forbes recently reported in the article, “You Value Emotional Intelligence, So Why Don’t You Hire for It?” that 25 percent of businesses say emotional intelligence is still undervalued in the hiring process, despite extensive research that having it among leaders and team members increases morale and motivation, improves culture, and
sparks better collaboration.

Examine yourself as a leader and see where you may lag and could improve, because unlike IQ, EQ can be learned if you’re motivated to do so. And, look for the traits of emotional intelligence in your new hires.

Self-awareness. Harvard Business Review reported that this is a person’s ability to realistically identify and understand their own emotions and how they affect their job and the people around them. Candidates will display this through self-confidence, self-assessment, and a good concept of their own weaknesses and strengths.

Self-regulation. The reporter in the anecdote didn’t have this ability—to think before you act on impulses and control how you exhibit your bad mood. Candidates will display this by showing that they are trustworthy, have integrity, and are open to change.

Motivation. This is a person’s passion for doing things for the sake of accomplishing
something. This is beyond doing their job simply for the money. Candidates will display a high energy, persistence, intrinsic desire to achieve, optimism and resilience, and a commitment to your firm.

Empathy. This is a person’s ability to understand others’ feelings and perspectives. Candidates will display this through service to clients, sensitivity to diverse thoughts and feelings, and expertise in building relationships.

Social skill. This refers to a person’s ability to successfully build and manage
relationships. Candidates will display this through making you feel comfortable, genuineness, and persuasiveness.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

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