Emotional Intelligence. It’s sort of the buzzword in the industry right now, isn’t it? Everyone is talking about it, but do we really know what it means? I know that I didn’t! I recently had the great pleasure of becoming certified in the Emotional and Social Competency Index and was blown away with all that I learned about EQ and how it is relevant in our firms. In the words of Daniel Goleman, the EQ guru, Emotional Intelligence is: ‘the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.’

But what does that really mean? Well, it’s sort of the opposite of your IQ. In this industry we have relied heavily on our intellect, our skills, our technical knowledge and intellectual ability. These are all qualities that are directly related to our IQ. And they are skills that have generally served us well. We’re smart! We have designations! We have credentials! While those are important, and they are, with the trends affecting our industry, they are not the skills that will carry us from compliance to advisory services.

In a world of blockchain, artificial intelligence, technology, remote workforce, etc., our Emotional Quotient (EQ) and the skills related to EQ are even more important in this changing environment. These skills are things like adaptability, persuasiveness and empathy. In fact, some studies show that EQ is twice as important as IQ in determining career success. And yet, we still struggle to train our people on these “soft skills” and still spend most of our dollars and time developing and growing our IQs.

Think about it for a minute. We’ve all seen high-potential people crash and burn. That partner who lost it in a meeting, or the manager who just went blank during the middle of a big pitch, or that person who dragged the culture down in the firm. How about the technical expert who completely missed what the client was trying to say, or the staff person who finds it completely appropriate to use iMessage as the only means of communication. These kinds of emotions, the ones that are almost out of control, can have a detrimental impact on how your peers, colleagues and clients perceive you. But the real question is how much does this bad behavior actually cost your firm? And what might focusing on EQ do for your business? That’s the “why,” folks. That is precisely why all of us should be investing in Emotional Intelligence training and development for our people. Understanding yourself and how others see you is the key to improving your chances for success.

Emotional Intelligence is broken down into the following four areas:

  • Self-Awareness: Knowing your emotions and their effects.
  • Self-Management: Knowing how to manage your emotions, how to keep disruptive impulses in check. Being flexible and comfortable with new ideas.
  • Social Awareness: An ability to listen, to truly “hone in” and to understand relationships.
  • Relationship Management: An ability to influence others, handle conflict, develop, lead and work with others.

And guess what? These four areas truly can be taught. I know it feels like some people just “have it.” And that might be the case to some extent, but the fact is that there’s a lot you can do to improve your Emotional Intelligence. It’s not easy and it certainly takes some time and commitment to develop new habits, but it can be done.

Next Steps

If you are interested in assessing and increasing the Emotional Intelligence at your firm, Rainmaker offers an interactive program built around the Goleman model for Emotional and Social Competence. Contact Us to learn more.


About the Author

As an Executive Vice President of The Rainmaker Companies, Adelaide is a speaker, trainer, coach and consultant to accounting firms around the world.  Adelaide’s strengths are in marketing, branding, communications, leadership and business development.  For over twelve years she has been working with accounting firms to help them build stronger cultures and stronger brands by encouraging excellence and consistency at all levels in a firm.  She does this through curriculum development that addresses each firm’s unique challenges and strengths and through energetic and impactful training that keeps firms excited about growth. Adelaide teams up with Julie McPherson, Vice President, in the training of The Rainmaker Academy, the premier leadership and business development program to the industry.  More recently, Adelaide has spearheaded and oversees the development of Video Module training and records these to supplement growth efforts inside of firms.