Why is EQ Important for Teamwork


Daniel Goleman (1998), author of the bestseller, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ, defined emotional intelligence, commonly called EQ (Emotional Quotient), as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” According to Salovey and Mayer (1990), “emotional intelligence is a set of skills that are thought to contribute to the appraisal of emotions in oneself and others. It can also help contribute to the effective regulation of emotions as well as feelings”. 

How Components of EQ Aid Teamwork?

Teamwork is a collaborative and collective effort of a particular group towards achieving a common goal or completing some task in an effective manner. It has some important aspects such as cooperation, coordination, communication and interdependence. All these aspects are influenced by an underlying dimension or factor – emotional intelligence of the team members. Emotional intelligence has important components which aid teamwork and therefore highlight the importance of EQ for teamwork. 


An important component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability of an individual to understand his or her emotions, goals, beliefs and capacities through reflection and introspection. It is the awareness an individual develops of his or her personality and various dimensions and traits of it, objectively and clearly. Being aware of oneself and one’s capacities, helps an individual develop a good understanding of others capacities and emotions and deal effectively with others. 
If all the members of a team are having a good awareness of themselves, they are in a better position to set smart goals for the team, pursue them effectively, and take good and calculated decisions together which are important not only for the team but also the organization as a whole. According to Sutton, Williams, and Allinson (2015), self-awareness enables an individual to perform better and communicate better at the workplace, enhances self-confidence and job-related well-being. 

Relationship Management 

Relationship management is the ability of an individual to induce desirable responses in the people around. Any individual who has a high EQ has a good capacity for managing relationships both in his personal and professional life. When individuals of a team have good relationship management, they are able to develop each other while working together, and resolve conflicts efficiently. 
Emotionally intelligent individuals also are good at teamwork and collaboration, the competencies which are a part of relationship management. Thus, relationship management, an important component of emotional intelligence, is important for developing healthy relationships between team members which in turn enhances the productivity of the team and results in better outputs. 

Social Awareness 

An individual who has high EQ has a good awareness of his social domain. An important aspect of social awareness is empathy. Empathy is “understanding a person from his or her frame of reference rather than one’s own, or vicariously experiencing that person’s feelings, perceptions, and thoughts” (American Psychological Association).  

Highly empathetic individuals are efficient in identifying and understanding the feelings and emotions of their team members and are able to understand the reasons behind the way the others feel or act. Empathetic individuals are also better able to establish rapport with people coming from diverse backgrounds and hence they are easier to work with. This enables the team members to act more cohesively towards a particular goal and being socially aware, helps individuals and team leaders to distribute work according to the capacity and skills of every individual. Thus, only members who have emotional intelligence are likely to be well aware of their social environment and in turn act accordingly to the demands of the situation.

EQ and Trust - Essentials for Teamwork! 

An important characteristic of high performance teams is that the members of the team have a high level of mutual trust amongst themselves. Developing trust among team members is highly essential for a team because only when the members trust each other’s intentions and concerns, do they work together to achieve the set goal. Lack of mutual trust tends to influence team members to work for fulfilling their own needs and leads to miscommunication in the team creating barriers to effective performance. Therefore, trust amongst members of the team is important for the cooperation and collaboration among team members. 

The building of this mutual trust amongst the members is credited to emotional intelligence or EQ. As mentioned earlier, individuals or leaders who have a high EQ tend to be more empathetic and understanding towards other people’s emotions and behavioural tendencies as compared to those who have low levels of EQ. The ability of an emotionally intelligent individual to be empathetic towards others results in building of mutual trust between the two individuals. Also, individuals with high EQ tend to excel in relationship management as well and are able to maintain strong professional relationships which contribute their development. 

Similarly, a team which has emotionally intelligent members tends to have greater levels of mutual trust in each other. This mutual trust amongst members develops a sense of psychological safety and cohesiveness amongst the members. This in turn motivates the team members to work collectively towards achieving the goals and enhances productivity of the team which gives better results. Psychological safety and health also leads to individuals having a happy disposition which makes it easier for them to work in teams. Thus, EQ is an essential factor in building trust amongst the team members and in turn an essential for teamwork. 

Importance of EQ for Teamwork 

EQ is very important for teamwork because of innumerable reasons. It helps builds trust among team members, gives an empathetic work environment to the team members, promotes conflict management and problem-solving, increases productivity and positively impacts the cooperation and interdependence of the team members in turn helping to establish effective channels of communication. Thus, emotional intelligence assists in the development of positive and effective relationships among team members through fostering trust, confidence and commitment. 
A team which is led by an emotionally intelligent leader and comprises of individuals who are emotionally intelligent, performs better as compared to teams which have members who might be technically well-equipped but the lack emotional intelligence. This is so because they are able to resolve conflicts quickly and effectively, and are able to put aside their own personal needs, and work together effectively towards the objectives of the team. 

Yost and Tucker (2000) supported a strong relationship between successful teamwork and emotional intelligence and contended that emotional intelligence competencies are more important than technical competencies while working in a team. According to Grossman (2000), and Tucker, Sojka, Barone, and McCarthy (2000), “the difference between success and mediocrity in working relationships, especially in a team environment, can be attributed to a team member’s mastery of the softer skills – abilities and approaches grounded in emotional intelligence”. 

EQ-i 2.0 is an effective tool which is useful for assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses with regard to his or her social and emotional domains. It is self-report inventory and the EQ-i 2.0 Workplace Report generated gives the results to the respondents on 5 key dimensions of emotional intelligence as per EQ-i 2.0 Model, namely, self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal relationships, decision-making, and stress management. These five key dimensions have sub-dimensions, and the inventory assess an individual on a total of 15 sub-dimensions which are all important competencies of emotional intelligence. The report generated also is used for employee coaching and development at a non-management level and helps employees deal more effectively with their colleagues and clients. 

Emotionally intelligence can thus be developed and improved upon with time and with practice and also helps in the development of soft skills. It is therefore important for organisations to hire individuals who are emotionally intelligent and also conduct workshops for developing competencies of emotional intelligence. Individuals should be hired on the basis of their visible technical skills and only after assessing their emotional intelligence. This would in turn help the HR managers to put together high performance teams for important projects of the organisation and increase their returns.


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