The Impact of EQ in Organizations


Emotional intelligence (known as EQ or EI) is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and use emotions to communicate and relate to others in an effective and constructive manner. 

Leaders must be emotionally intelligent to manage and motivate themselves and others. Higher levels of EQ correlate with leadership effectiveness and more positive perceptions of their subordinates in real work environments.

Unlike IQ, EQ can be trained and improved. For some, emotional intelligence comes more naturally than for others, but the good news is that with the right training, motivation and patience, EQ can be increased.  

With the advent of neuroimaging, we know that EQ is a complex phenomenon that uses multiple brain regions. We have confirmation that we can harness this knowledge to improve our thoughts and actions through the phenomenon of neuroplasticity.

A toxic workplace climate is a term that describes a workplace in which there is significant personal conflict among those who work there. This internal conflict impacts productivity, employee health and company culture.

Toxic workplaces are often seen as the result of toxic employers and/or employees motivated by personal gain. These individuals may use unethical means to psychologically manipulate those around them. This often manifests itself in narcissistic behavior, aggressive leadership and bullying.

Organizations can resolve workplace bullying by following two proven steps: 

Step 1: First, show employees that their well-being is important and recognize their contributions. Through two-way communication it is possible to ensure a shared vision among all levels of employees. The goal is to improve the health of the corporate culture. If people feel they are on the same side and aiming for the same thing with a shared vision, there is less room for conflict.

Step 2: Address the individual level with the development of the emotional intelligence of people within the organization. The proven effects are that bullying at work does not affect these people as much and, therefore, their productivity is less likely to be affected, as well as their mental well-being.

Harassing, offending or socially excluding someone or negatively affecting their work on a regular (repetitive) basis and for at least 6 months. This is often an escalating process in which the target becomes the victim of systematic negative social acts and feels inferior. It is also noted that workplace harassment is recognized as a major source of stress associated with negative well-being outcomes and contributes to a toxic work environment.

Personal resources, particularly emotional intelligence, have been found to significantly improve the psychological well-being of individuals and their ability to cope with demanding work situations such as workplace bullying. As such, researchers propose, based on their findings, that organizations consider emotional intelligence training as part of their anti-harassment strategies.

Research has found a strong association between higher measures of EI and mental health and psychosomatic health, noting that EI can even be used as a plausible predictor of health. In addition, higher levels of EI have been shown to provide increased resilience to negative life events.


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of EI or EQ

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Example of

Toxicity at work

Reducing the impact of

EQ and the
mental health

To come


Definition of EI or EQ

Emotional intelligence is the ability to observe and decode feelings and emotions; your own and those of others, distinguish between them, and use this information to guide your thinking and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). People vary in their measure of emotional intelligence (EI); those with higher EI scores are more likely to use emotional information to correctly label their feelings, guide their thinking, and adjust their behaviors to different environments (Mayer et al., 2008). There are positive correlations between higher EQ and better social relationships, more positive perceptions by others, better negotiation skills, and better health (Mayer et al., 2008).

Since its conceptualization, EI has been broken down into subcategories, which are used to measure EI and are based on either an individual's traits (characters) or abilities. The ability-based measure of EI is an objectively measured set of cognitive emotional abilities that include the ability to perceive, manage, and understand the emotions of oneself and others (Vanuk et al., 2019). These abilities are measured via performative tests. The trait (character) based form of EI measurement measures people's perceptions of their own behavior and emotional abilities, so these are self-reports.

Emotional intelligence is arguably more important than ever. Individual qualities such as resilience, initiative, and empathy have become more in demand as a result of the tremendous workplace changes that have taken place globally. Increased awareness of individual differences and mental health, technological innovation and global competition are just a few factors contributing to these changes (Cherniss & Adler, 2000).




Leadership and EQ

In business, emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware and can manage themselves and others. Leaders are expected to motivate their team and create a sense of belonging in order to put them at ease and therefore work more effectively (Dabke, 2016).

A growing number of research organizations are bridging the gap between theory and application of EQ by finding correlations between higher levels of managerial EI and higher scores of leadership effectiveness (Dulewicz et al., 2005, Rosete & Ciarrochi, 2005) as well as more positive perceptions of subordinates (Kerr et al., 2005) in real work environments.

Emotions play an important role in leadership; leaders recognize the emotional states of their subordinates, which gives the leader the opportunity to try to manage their emotional states and according to Humphrey (2002), the level of influence a leader has over the emotional climate can strongly influence performance. This is similar to the theory proposed by Salovey et al. (2004) in which they state that a leader's higher level of EI will result in a better ability to monitor the group and how they feel, allowing them to take appropriate action. Leadership is also a socially interactive process where there is a strong link to the ability of leaders to influence the behavior of their employees, which in turn has a strong influence on performance.

Although good leaders are sensitive to their own and their team's emotions, this does not mean that they are overly sentimental or simply "good at being nice"; they can put their emotions aside when needed and call for firm action when necessary.
(Cherniss, C., & Adler, M., 2000). With relevant EI training, leaders will know when the call to action is needed (Mikolajczak et al., 2012).

I would also like to draw attention to a systematic review of Thirteen studies, published between 2002 and 2019, were selected and included in a systematic review of the literature following specific criteria and with the objective of answering the following question
" What impact does emotional intelligence have on leadership?"
The conclusion of this review is as follows:

"To conclude, EI has been shown to have a positive impact on leadership. However, further studies should examine the relationship between supportive leadership, EI and different leadership styles. Another important aspect is to further examine the difference when EI is engaged or not. In truth, it is clear that EI can help promote an advanced and supportive leadership style. The results are not only important for the organization as a whole and its leaders, but also for the employees themselves. Overall, EI needs to be promoted more and should be seen as an important key to successful leadership." (Linda Sistad 2020)


EQ can grow

For some, emotional intelligence comes more naturally than for others, but the good news is that with the right training, motivation and patience, EQ can be increased.

In this study by Groves et al. (2008), the researchers demonstrated statistically significant increases in EI measures compared to the control group (group that did not receive training) following EI training.

Another study showed that the benefits of increased emotional identification and management persisted into a 6-month follow-up, whereas there were no significant improvements in the group that received no training (Nelis et al., 2009).


Neuroscience and EQ

Emotional intelligence is not a new concept, but what is relatively new is how advances in brain imaging allow us to better understand the neural basis of EI and how we can harness this knowledge to improve our thoughts and actions accordingly.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) has become synonymous with planning, thinking and reasoning. But, as with most neuroimaging studies, we find that brain areas rarely work in isolation to perform a specific task, but rather work collaboratively across multiple areas. An extensive study of lesions and AR focused on subregions of the temporal and parietal lobes (Barbey et al., 2012).

Studies on the neural basis of EI, expected substrate regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) such as the ventromedial and dorsolateral PFC have been linked to emotional intelligence (Krueger et al., 2009).

This is not mentioned to complicate the concept of EI, but to show that it is a complex phenomenon that uses many regions of our brain!

The good news is that through neuroplasticity, which is our ability to form new synaptic connections across brain areas in response to learning, we can strengthen the associations between these brain areas through EI training. In Neuroscience, there is a famous phrase by Donald Hebb, who said that "neurons that fire together, connect together," which is a way of describing that connections in the brain form and strengthen through repetition.


Example of Neuroplasticity

Take the example of the Covid-19 crisis experienced in 2020. The consequence of this event has many faces; for some it is a sudden death, a prolonged illness and for others the loss of a job or an organization. Spirits flare and unconsciously create fear and barriers that, in the long run, may cause a vicious cycle of negative thoughts that will limit an individual's ability to identify their power to act.

When we detect an event that seems to confirm our worst fears, whether real or not, the perceived potential danger prompts our brain to bypass the neural pathway of semantic thinking to the part of the brain that triggers our survival mode (Amygdala). The more we feed these negative thoughts, for example by watching the news about the loss of life or jobs related to the Covid-19 crisis, the more effective this pathway becomes. In other words, it becomes increasingly difficult to access one's reasoning ability, in addition to generating reactive behaviors that strain our own success, as well as that of those around us. This is an example of what neuroplasticity is all about.

Fortunately, this negative phenomenon is reversible!

Normally, through awareness of the latter, interest in understanding it, and with regular practice of good techniques, it is possible to reprogram a neural pathway that allows conscious access to one's cerebral cortex. This positive pathway should lead to healthy behaviors for oneself, as well as the resilience, empathy and teamwork necessary to implement solutions that contribute to the well-being of all.

How does an individual know if they are affected by unconscious negative thought patterns? By measuring the emotional quotient (EQ), using 15 behavioral factors. The results will allow him to discover how he is affected and in relation to which beliefs he can concretely take action.


Moderating toxicity in the workplace

Definition of a Toxic Workplace Climate:

A toxic workplace climate is a term that describes a workplace in which there is significant personal conflict among those who work there. This internal conflict impacts productivity, employee health and company culture.

Toxic workplaces are often seen as the result of toxic employers and/or employees motivated by personal gain. These individuals may use unethical means to psychologically manipulate those around them. This often manifests itself in narcissistic behavior, aggressive leadership and bullying.

Investigating the effects of toxicity in the workplace and how its effects can be moderated:

● A study by Rasool et al (2020) examined the relationship between the toxicity of a work environment and employee mental well-being and engagement.

● They found that the more toxic the workplace, the less engaged employees are in the work and the more likely they are to pass those feelings of negativity on to others.

● With respect to health, the toxic work environment was found to contribute to feelings of depression, burnout, and stress.

● Interestingly, they also found that organizational support significantly influenced the relationship between workplace toxicity and employee engagement.

● Organizational support refers to the extent to which an organization values its employees' contributions and cares about their well-being.

● In the study, Rasool et al (2020) suggest that organizational support is best achieved through a shared vision where there is two-way communication between management and employees.

This must be achieved through openness to new ideas and awareness of one's own and others' needs and emotional states.


Reducing the impact of
harassment at work

Definition of bullying in the workplace:

Einarsen et al. (2011) define workplace mobbing as
... socially harassing, offending, or excluding someone or negatively affecting someone's work. For the label of harassment (or mobbing) to be applied to a particular activity, interaction, or process, the harassing, bullying, or exclusionary behavior must occur repeatedly and regularly (e.g., weekly) and over a period of time (e.g., approximately six months). Harassment is an escalating process in which the person being harassed is placed in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic negative social acts. A conflict does not qualify as bullying if the incident is an isolated event or if both parties are of approximately equal strength in the conflict. (p. 22)

Workplace harassment has been recognized as a major source of workplace stress associated with negative well-being outcomes, including poor psychological health, post-traumatic stress, burnout, depression (Brewer & Whiteside, 2012; Martin & Klein, 2013; Nielsen et al., 2014; Nielsen, Glaso, Matthiesen, Eid & Einarsen, 2013).

How to reduce the impact of workplace bullying:

● In a 2019 study by Elizabeth C. Nel, they investigated the modulating effect of emotional intelligence on some of the well-documented negative impacts of bullying such as depression, anxiety, and low engagement.

● Through statistical analysis, this study found that higher emotional intelligence significantly mitigated the negative effects of bullying on employee well-being.

● They propose that because EI includes emotional and social skills, it may be able to moderate individuals' well-being by enabling them to employ better coping strategies during workplace bullying situations.

● This is consistent with Raman et al. (2016) who argued that highly emotionally intelligent individuals have the ability to more effectively handle the negative experience of workplace bullying.

● The authors conclude that the development of emotional intelligence is therefore essential to buffer the negative effects of workplace bullying on employee well-being.

● This can be accomplished by conducting training sessions that address various work-related emotional intelligence skills (e.g., emotional development, emotional regulation, emotional management, and emotional resilience)

● Emotional intelligence training and education could help reduce the vulnerability of harassment targets and/or help victims recover and bounce back from harassment incidents.


EQ and Mental Health

In a meta-analysis of nearly 20,000 participants by Martins et al (2010), the authors conducted a statistical analysis of more than a decade of research on the link between EI and health. They found a strong association between higher measures of EI and mental health and psychosomatic health, noting that EI can even be used as a plausible predictor of health. This corroborates the findings of another meta-analysis study, which noted that higher levels of emotional intelligence were significantly associated with better health (A & Mathew, 2019).

In addition, higher levels of EI have been shown to provide increased resilience to negative life events (Armstrong et al., 2011).

This highlights the broad scope of EI and how training to increase EI will likely have beneficial effects on other areas of your life.


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Ms. Linda Sistad and presented in March 2020 at the Faculty of Humanities, Academic Chair r: Allgemeine Pädagogik II (Prof. Dr. Regina H. Mulder) Seminar: "Vorbereitungsseminar zur Bachelorarbeit" Dr. Gerhard Messmann. (See discussions, statistics and author profile for this publication here :

Work-role psychosocial flourishing: Its mediation role on workplace bullying and employee turnover intention

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