Everyone Is as Smart as You and Works as Hard as You. So What’s the Key to Standing Out?

According to James Runde, former vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, the critical distinguishing factor for advancing in professional services is emotional intelligence (EQ).

Runde is also the author of the book UNEQUALED: Tips for Building a Successful Career Through Emotional Intelligence, and recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Review, Why Young Bankers, Lawyers, and Consultants Need Emotional Intelligence.

Runde notes that developing EQ is just as pertinent for the recent graduate as it is for the seasoned veteran, and without it, you’re likely to be your firm’s “best-kept secret” — not recognized, not appreciated, not promoted and, often, not properly compensated.

EQ is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

Like most skills, EQ can be improved through practice; in this case by practicing:

  • how to listen
  • how to remain calm and resilient in the face of problems
  • how to value and help colleagues
  • how to connect and empathize with clients

Runde believes that ultimately EQ is about relationships, in particular:

  • Your relationship with yourself (self-awareness/adaptability)
  • Your relationships with your colleagues (collegiality/collaboration)
  • Your relationships with your clients (empathy)

Runde uses the example of how EQ can help build one’s network, a key in identifying new opportunities and advancing your career. And building a successful network is a skill that requires all three components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, collaboration, and empathy.

By increasing EQ, young professionals are thus able to use those skills to enhance the business skills necessary for success in today’s work environment.

It was interesting reading this article, since I am currently having my students read Grit by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth believes that passion and perseverance, which she defines as the two key components of grit, are the keys to success.

I’d have to agree with Runde that perhaps grit alone is not enough for success, but when combined with a high EQ, individuals are more likely to achieve their goals.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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