Are you emotionally intelligent enough for a promotion?

Emotional intelligence levels vary from one person to another, it’s not an innate trait - we can cultivate it. [Courtesy]

He considered himself a high achiever in the workplace, scoring his performance at 8 out of 10. And his co-workers agreed - he was very competent at his job and routinely finished his projects on time. But when it came to promotions, Peter found himself struggling to understand why he had been passed over twice for positions that he thought he would have been perfect for.

When he finally plucked the courage to speak to his current and previous boss about why he was not getting the promotions he had so been eagerly pursuing, the results were surprising. Without realising it, he discovered that he had been sabotaging his career because of certain behaviour that, on the flipside, were also responsible for his success.

Emotional Intelligence

According to a 2017 report titled ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’ that surveyed more than 600 HR managers and 800 office workers, Emotional intelligence (EQ) was cited as a predicator for success, especially for professionals who work in close quarters with others, whether it is for innovation, project or collaboration roles and for those who are in customer facing roles. In the survey, 30 per cent of HR managers in the study said employers do not put enough weight on EQ when considering candidates for roles.

But what is EQ and why does it matter? EQ is summed up in five dimensions - empathy, adaptability, emotional self-awareness, positive outlook and emotional self-control. Daniel Goleman, who is a forefront researcher and author around EQ says that while technical skills and IQ are important in the modern day roles, EQ is the entry level requirements for leadership positions.


In Peter’s case, the fact that he was so competent at his job meant that he never let any of his workmates forget that either. His boss reminded him of an incident where a certain decision that had been pending for long while the options were researched was put to a vote. When the vote was taken, it called for a different choice than the one Peter had presented. Six months later, the project ran into problems and when his colleagues asked for his help, he was very vocal that his route had been the right one - this attitude alienated his colleagues and did not go unnoticed by his superiors.

When he applied for a promotion in the same organisation, the fact that he lorded ‘being right’ over his colleagues was seen as immature and as inability to put the needs of the team above his own.

Self-control and regulation also affect how you respond to situations in the workplace - are you prone to outbursts of anger, how do you handle impatience and are you able to correct or teach members of your team without putting them down, are you able to allow your team mates to save face? It is recommended that if you find yourself in a situation where you are likely to lose your cool, take some time to calm down - getting into shouting matches with colleagues will only reflect negatively on you.


It is often said that there is only one constant in the world - change. According to a behavioural survey that was conducted in the workplace, leaders said they would rather have someone on their team who is adaptable - is willing to learn and embrace new strategies and ways of doing things while staying positive, than a superstar employee who is resistant to change.

But how do these behaviours manifest themselves in individuals? Say a new initiative is introduced in the workplace. Are you the one who uses terms like ‘but we have always done things this way’ or who sabotages the new projects because you are too uncomfortable with change? Or are you the one who seeks to chat with your boss about how to support and be effective within the new guidelines, and then follows up to ensure that your actions are matching your verbal commitment?


Other ways that you can sabotage your success in the workplace include being passive or aggressive when interacting with your colleagues (e.g. verbally committing your support to a project then sabotaging it by withholding the resources needed to make it a success or being cordial then spreading malicious rumours about them), playing the blame game and refusing to accept responsibility for errors and always portraying yourself as the victim.

And while emotional intelligence levels vary from one person to another, it’s not an innate trait - we can cultivate a higher level of self-awareness by committing to learning more about ourselves and others.