There are several bright, shiny objects discussed in business today, including “unicorns,” soft power and engagement. Interestingly, these ideas foster lively discussions for companies or teams, but they can be a distraction from an intended goal.

Allow me to add another reference to the pile that can actually produce results: influence!

Influence fills the gaps between success and failure. It is an invisible power that can be documented and enhanced. In Harry Beckwith’s book “Selling the Invisible,” he contends that selling a product and selling a service or idea have different criteria. The product is tangible; the buyer can admire, touch and personally experience the product. (Think of new car smell when buying a car.) When selling the invisible, relationship is the “product.” Invisible forces are at work beneath the surface – emotions, risk tolerance, likability and personal experience. They converge on the monarch of all the invisibles: trust.

You must build on relationships to grow trust. Then, you are a reminder to your audience that engaging with you and your company is comfortable and secure—two foundational premises for emotional intelligence (EQ). Move from experience to trust, and then you can use EQ to influence based on relationship.

My research on influence throughout my career brought me to the power of EQ, a term I did not know had a name until after I read Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence.”

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

EQ in an array of emotional skills that support our ability to assess and understand our surroundings. Self-awareness is a key component.

Michael Beldoch first used the term, but in 1995, Daniel Goleman popularized it with his book. In 2001, Stephen Stein, Ph.D., and Howard Book, M.D., wrote “The EQ Edge,” in which they described EQ as a composite of self-methods or habits we use to interact with our environment, including our beliefs, worldview and perceived place within them. Stein and Book defined the characteristics and a metric to measure them within us. These tracked traits can help you build your influence quotient consciously.

Research from the Carnegie Institute of Technology suggests that 85 percent of success at work and in life is reliant on emotional intelligence, and the other 15 percent is based on knowledge. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “In the long run, EQ (emotional quotient) trumps IQ (intelligence quotient). Without being a source of energy for others very little can be accomplished.”

Emotional intelligence surpasses IQ as a positive predictor of success. It is the ultimate composite of coping skills – from our ability to engage and interact with others to skills that optimize conditions. Although its intangible qualities may resemble common sense, the power of this skill set surpasses credentials, education and conditions. It encompasses “gut instinct” and quick assessment with people and in circumstances. In our social circles, people watch our behavior to assess who will influence them based on trust.

These predictors affect sales, customer-centric service, core beliefs and attitudes. All these elements are aspects of emotional intelligence. Once practiced, leaders can use emotional intelligence to develop buy-in strategies of cooperation, listening and coaching skills to reduce resistance. When participants are individually coached on how their roles and functions impact the entire company, they emotionally “link in.”

The acronym BLISS™ delivers a recipe for organizations to follow to develop resilience and influence to address any circumstances that occur:

  • Behavior: displays of how people manage themselves and others
  • Leadership: the temperament that supports this environment, vision and way forward
  • Insights: learning opportunities, including coaching and training embedded in culture, and receptivity to change
  • Strategy: the plan for how ideas are applied across the organization (e.g., Is it interactive?)
  • Service: what the company supports, including causes, volunteerism, community outreach, scholarships or awards
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