EQ a strong contributor to performance, study finds

Although the importance of emotional intelligence is increasingly being recognised, critics continue to question whether it holds any real value in the workplace. Does an employee with higher EQ necessarily perform better at work?

A new study suggests that EQ can indeed be linked to higher levels of performance in a variety of fields, from music and sports to academia and perhaps even in the office.

The study, led by Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya at Goldsmiths, University of London, analysed the level of EQ among classical pianists and measured how easy it was for them to reach a state of “flow”. Professor Bhattacharya describes flow as a psychological phenomenon characterised by “extreme fulfilment, optimised performance, health and well-being”.

According to the findings from the study, pianists with higher 'trait emotional intelligence', or the ability to “competently process strong emotional information,” found it easier to reach a state of flow and undertake the complex tasks of playing the piano.

Professor Bhattacharya explains that the ability to reach flow and peak performance may therefore, not solely depend on how much training someone has received, but may also hinge significantly on their personality traits. This can have resounding implications in a huge number of areas extending beyond music.

“'Flow' experience is highly emotional, rewarding, and music is strongly communicative of emotions and rewarding as well. So it makes sense that those with high emotional intelligence ultimately find it easier to 'zone in',” he said in a February 7 press release.

“How can we apply this in other contexts such as sports or even in the workplace?”

There is no doubting that emotional intelligence does indeed have a role to play in the corporate sphere, and it is a trait you should definitely be looking out for in your recruitment and selection.

Taking your candidates through personality assessment can be a good way of gauging how well they are able to reach flow at work.