Ideal Outcomes

Why Emotional Smarts are Your Best Asset

by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.

Some people might say you either have it, or you don’t have it. I’m talking about emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the ability to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

It’s a vitally important interpersonal skill that’s more valued in the workplace now than ever. Interest is high. In fact, according to data from Google Trends the question “What is emotional intelligence?” was recently Googled three times more than a decade ago.

An earlier CareerBuilder Survey of over 2,600 hiring managers and HR professionals found that 71% valued emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ and 75% said they were more likely to promote an employee with a high EQ over one with a high IQ. And a TalentSmartEQ study of 34 important workplace skills found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, accounting for 58% of success in all types of jobs.

The importance of emotional intelligence in business leadership was popularized by renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman in his original  bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and numerous subsequent books and academic articles.

I love the way Goleman explained it in a Harvard Business Review interview, “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.”

Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence: 2.0, and more recently, Emotional Intelligence Habits, points out key benefits: “Understanding the powerful role of emotions in the workplace sets the best leaders apart from the rest—not just in tangibles like increased productivity but also in the all-important intangibles, such as higher morale, motivation, and commitment.”

So do you have it or don’t you have it? If you don’t—don’t worry. Emotional intelligence can be learned and developed over time. It’s not an innate trait that one either possesses in full or lacks entirely; rather, it’s a set of skills and abilities that can be cultivated with practice and effort. In my experience, here’s how you can go about enhancing  emotional intelligence.


Start by recognizing your own emotions and their impact on your work and colleagues. Keep a journal to record different situations and your reactions to them to better understand your emotional triggers.


Learn to manage your emotions, especially in stressful situations. Techniques such as deep breathing, taking a short walk, or a moment of mindfulness can help maintain your composure and make more rational decisions.


Practice empathy by actively listening to others and trying to see situations from their perspectives. This involves paying attention to non-verbal cues and being genuinely interested in others’ feelings and thoughts.

Social Skills

Work on your communication skills, such as clear speaking, attentive listening, and non-verbal communication like eye contact and body language. These are vital for building and maintaining positive relationships at work.


Encourage a culture of giving and receiving honest and constructive feedback. Be especially open to feedback about your work and behavior. Use this feedback constructively to improve your performance and emotional interactions with colleagues.

Conflict Resolution

Develop skills to handle conflicts more effectively. Approach disagreements with a calm, rational manner, and strive for solutions that satisfy all parties involved.


Cultivate a positive attitude by practicing gratitude and looking for the good in situations and people. This can improve your work environment and the morale of your team.


Adapt to changing circumstances and be willing to update your approach as needed. Flexibility is key to dealing with workplace challenges and changes.

Relationship Management

Invest time in building and nurturing professional relationships. Regular check-ins, collaborative projects, and social outings can strengthen your connections with colleagues. Don’t run away from conflict—it’s important to address problems when they arise.


Various types of training programs can also help individuals develop higher emotional intelligence. These programs typically focus on exercises and knowledge that build a better understanding of emotions and how they influence interactions and decisions.

Your Emotional Intelligence Journey

The journey to enhance emotional intelligence is ongoing and evolves as one gains more experience in personal and professional life. While you might be a top performer from knowledge and technical standpoints, you won’t effectively communicate and collaborate with coworkers if you haven’t enhanced your emotional intelligence.