The Millennial Career Dilemma Series-5 – The importance of Building your EQ!

By Shubika Bilkha


With an academic system as achievement oriented as ours in India, the IQ or ‘results’ are used as key determinants of a student’s success. The concept of learning and the development of knowledge has been largely relegated to technical skills premised on rot learning and measured by performance across a standardized grading system. In a large population where top tier University spots and employment opportunities are at a premium, marks or grades then become a key indicator of your future career trajectory. However, with graduate employability numbers at a low, it isn’t academics alone that seems to be the main differentiator in professional success. What are the intangible factors that are contributing to workplace achievements?


If we go back to our ancient philosophies such as the teachings of Vedanta, the definition of learned focuses on the development of the intellect over the mind and body. The Vedanta clearly differentiates between intelligence and intellect, with intellect being the primary focus. Intellect in this instance is your ability to reason, control, think, question and analyse in a manner that allows you to exhibit control over emotions and desires.


Globally, researchers and management gurus are highlighting the importance of developing your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as a differentiator between star performers and the rest. It was only in 1990 that two professors at Yale University,John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey, coined the term Emotional Intelligence. This is characterized by the intangible behavior that helps manage emotions, build relationships, develop strong communication skills, be empathetic and socially aware. According to a TalentSmart survey that tested EQ and 33 other workplace skills, it was found that EQ was the strongest predictor of performance explaining 58% of the success across job roles. The study further observed that 90% of top performers had a high EQ, while only 20% of the bottom performers were high in EQ. People with high EQ also earned $29,000 on average more than those with a low degree of emotional intelligence, according to the findings.


If ancient philosophies and modern day management theories both highlight the importance of emotional intelligence as the intangible differentiator of success and happiness over and above intelligence, then why aren’t our academic systems moving to develop these key skill sets early on?


I see a number of mid-career professionals hire executive coaches, attend seminars and retreats to build their EQ at a later stage in life. For graduates, developing these skill sets early on will lead to greater fulfillment both professionally and personally.


According to a 1998 Harvard Business Review article titled ‘What Makes a Leader’, there are 5 components to Emotional Intelligence that I have defined below:


Self- Awareness: This is the ability to be honest about your capabilities, value your self-worth and understand the impact of your emotions on those around you. It is also important to do an honest assessment of the environment around you and manage your own expectations in that regard.


Self-Regulation: According to the Vedanta philosophy, it is only natural to experience emotions like anger, anxiety, annoyance etc. However, managing those emotions is where your ‘intellect’ comes in. Self-regulation then includes self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness or taking responsibility, adaptability or resilience and innovation.


Motivation: Self-motivation, optimism, commitment and taking initiative is what will contribute to your long-term professional success. If you put in the effort, remain positive and derive your motivation from yourself, success will only follow.


Empathy: There is a volume of literature available on empathy in the workplace and making yourself more empathetic will only help you with building better relationships, working in a team and leading successfully. Empathy includes components such as being more human centered, developing others, being non-judgmental, being sensitive to others needs and wants, and accepting others for who they are.


Social Skills:The development of good interpersonal skills will help you both in life and in your career. Active listening is something we often need to work on and consciously develop. In my career, I have often found this communication skill to be one of the biggest challenges in people. Other social skills include influence, clarity of thought and messaging, conflict management, relationship building, team-work and cooperation.


Building our EQ as individuals is a lifelong process that will only contribute to enhancing the quality of our relationships and our lives in all realms.

About the Author- Shubika has an ideal blend of corporate experience and entrepreneurship in India and Internationally. Her experience of over 12 years spans the finance, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, she has hands on experience in strategy, execution, operations management, marketing, sales and customer experience, HR, recruitment and finance.


Shubika is a published author and a prominent media spokesperson for the real estate and education sectors having contributed to publications, portals, panels/events, the radio and television channels in India. Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.


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