You might think that for your business to be truly successful you need smarter people, a better product, or a more strategic plan. But chances are what your team really needs is greater emotional intelligence (EQ).

Countless studies show that it’s skills like empathy, self-awareness, and communication that set people up for success and make organizations more profitable. Too often EQ is undervalued as “soft skills,” but it goes beyond how much people “like” you. EQ influences not only your professional success but your company’s bottom line. It’s why 71% of hiring managers said emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ.

At UNA we know that to be true, which is why we brought in John Chisholm of Ember Learning for an in-depth EQ training. John is a brilliant management consultant who has helped over 400 businesses build better teams, resolve conflicts, and invest in organizational development.

His workshop on how groups can improve their EQ is a training every business should have; which is why today I’m sharing my takeaways from our session. Including why EQ is crucial for your organization’s success, and how both you and your team can improve your EQ.


What is EQ? 

We’re all familiar with IQ. It’s your necessary intelligence; it’s what helps you process information and survive life. But as more and more information and basic tasks are provided by machines, it’s EQ that ultimately sets you apart.

The saying is “hire those with IQ, promote those with EQ.” Why? Because high emotional intelligence helps equip people to be great innovators and leaders. Here’s how John breaks down the critical components of EQ:

John Chisholm - What Is EQ Slide

*Image courtesy of John Chisholm & Ember Learning

Someone who encompasses that list of skills is someone who is:

  • Humble - they admit their strengths and weaknesses
  • Self-motivated - they take responsibility for their actions
  • An effective communicator - they’re a good listener and work well with others
  • Someone you want to engage with - you like seeing them on Monday morning

Sound like someone you want as your boss or employee? Agreed.


What is EQ? 

EQ Einstein Quote

Still not convinced that EQ is all that important for business? Here are just a few of the impressive stats:

  • A study of over 40 Fortune 500 companies revealed that sales people with high Emotional Intelligence outperformed those with medium to low EI by 50%.
  • Technical programmers who were measured in the top 10% of the Emotional Intelligence competencies were creating new software three times faster than those with lower measurements.
  • Companies who do a better job of communicating with their employees outperform those who do not, financially. On average a company with an exceptional communications program delivered a 47% greater return to shareholders than the least communicative firms.
  • According to JCA Global, an 18% improvement in productivity for senior managers, resulting from emotional intelligence training, would lead to 150% increase in pre-tax profits.
  • A series of studies found that approximately 30% of occupational performance is based on EI.

Another study conducted by The Carnegie Institute of Technology showed that “85% of financial success was due to skills in ‘human engineering,’ personality, and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. They found that only 15% was due to technical ability.”

Simply put, the data shows that people with higher EQs perform better, and help increase profitability; which is excellent news if you and your team have high EQs. But what about those of us who know there’s room for improvement? If your organization is struggling to communicate, dealing with petty politics, or in constant in conflict -- don’t worry, there’s hope.


How your business can increase its EQ

You can’t change your IQ, but you can increase your EQ. And your team can improve its collective EQ. This is great news because while our culture tends to paint us as victims of our environment, childhood, or DNA, the truth is we hold the real power.

Increasing EQ both collectively and individually, begins with the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions. What others do may affect you, but you have to own how you respond. No one “makes” you do anything.

Your belief in your ability to succeed (self-efficacy) and your goals are strongly tied together. When you believe you can affect positive change, you stop waiting and reacting, and you start making things happen.  

EQ is flexible. It’s something you and your business can improve or neglect. It’s a skill set you can choose to develop. Start by committing to:

  • Creating a more self-aware and humble culture - starting with yourself
  • Being more empathetic - seeing the world through someone’s eyes
  • Really listening before you respond -- making sure you fully understand
  • Initiating hard conversations
  • Asking for honest feedback
  • Taking responsibility for your actions - your past doesn’t define you
  • Acting like you can affect positive change


Below are a few of John’s specific assignments for how you can walk this out, both individually and with your team.

John Chisholm - assignments - slide

*Image courtesy of John Chisholm & Ember Learning

Additional resources for improving EQ

Bottom line, if you want to increase your business’s success, investing in improving its EQ is a great place to start.


Big thank you to John Chisholm; you continue to help UNA continue to get better!

If you have any questions for John, you can send him an email at or learn more on his website Ember Learning.



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