Emotional Intelligence: Some Have It, Others Can Learn

By Smigla, John E.; Pastoria, Gail | The CPA Journal, June 2000 | Go to article overview

Emotional Intelligence: Some Have It, Others Can Learn


Smigla, John E., Pastoria, Gail, The CPA Journal


Why are some accounting professionals-with only average or inferior technical skills-more successful than others? How are some accountants able to advance quickly, motivate subordinates, or gain entrance to the boardroom with little effort? In recent years such ability has been labeled "emotional intelligence." Two books by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence, apply psychology to business. Many of the concepts are not revolutionary; how ever, the codification of these psychological principles has useful implications for professional accountants.

Emotional intelligence, as defined in the second book, consists of five competencies: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. The first three competencies determine how well we manage ourselves. Self awareness means recognizing one's emotions, strengths and weaknesses, self worth, and capabilities. Self regulation deals with managing emotions and impulses, maintaining integrity, being flexible, and taking responsibility for one's performance. Motivation focuses on meeting organizational goals, taking the initiative, and maintaining excellence and optimism. The last two competencies determine how well we handle relationships. Empathy requires reading the feelings of others and includes developing others, leveraging diversity, and understanding the needs of others. Social skills deal with handling others' feelings artfully, thereby inducing desirable responses. This requires listening, conflict management, leadership, and collaboration. Teamwork, which has been identified as a necessary skill for organizational success, also falls in this area. Specific jobs require certain combinations of the competencies.

An Essential Skill

Emotional intelligence is essential to a productive workplace. It is not only being nice to others, but also confronting them in the most constructive way when a problem exists. …

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