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Emotional Intelligence: Pros and Cons

You wouldn’t want a symphony comprised exclusively of flutists. A football team with nothing but offensive linemen is not likely to win many games. By the same token, it takes all types of people to run a company. When a business seeks to employ only workers who “fit” its corporate culture, it could end up missing out on some key characteristics for success.

Researchers have delved into the impact of different kinds of temperaments. They often refer to a person’s disposition as his or her emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ), which sums up interpersonal skills such as sociability, sensitivity, adjustability and prudence.

These characteristics can play an important role in the work environment. For example, a person with a high EQ is generally perceived as proficient at following rules and procedures and getting along with others. These employees tend to score high in leadership roles, job performance, job satisfaction, and physical and emotional well-being. On the surface, it may be easy to understand why a company might look to hire only people with a high EQ.

However, there are some downsides to having a work environment filled with people with high EQs. For example, people with a higher EQ tend to exhibit lower levels of creativity and innovation. Creative types frequently are stereotyped as moody, nonconformist, excitable and even hostile. But the fact is, their impulse to challenge the status quo is one of the features of out-of-the-box thinking that many companies need to stay competitive.

High EQ people may also have issues giving or receiving negative feedback, which can impede their ability to lead and manage others. Researchers say they are so steady and well-adjusted that they may not give much credence to negative feedback they receive.

People who tend to get along well with others also may be so focused on maintaining good relationships that they do not excel at being change agents, driving results or making unpopular decisions for the good of the company. In other words, a high EQ person is more likely to “play it safe” and miss out on higher-risk but higher-reward opportunities.

This is why it often takes a wide variety of personalities to drive a successful company. One solution is to match the disposition of workers to the role they will fulfill. A person with a high EQ may excel in positions such as salesperson, customer support and account liaison. An employee with a lower EQ may be better suited for responsibilities related to creativity, innovation, leading change or taking risks.

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