Using emotional intelligence to succeed in unprecedented times

By Katie West, Strategic Talent Initiatives Consultant

How many times in the last 12 months have you regretted what you said or did not say? Or regretted something you did or did not do? What was the fallout from those situations? As bankers, we are familiar with the ups and downs of the economy, mergers and acquisitions, and de novo banks. We survived the technology threats of Y2K, and the increasing speed of constant technology upgrades for our clients and ourselves. The change that COVID-19, politics, and artificial intelligence (AI) has caused placed us in a huge paradigm shift in our professional and personal lives. Admit it—you are stressed out. So how do you survive successfully in your relationships?

If you have been a part of the workplace for any length of time and if you have tuned into any type of self-help material, then most likely you have heard of emotional intelligence (EI). It has been a focus in the business sector since Daniel Goleman released his book Emotional Intelligence in 1995. He positioned the case that leaders need more than IQ to be successful.

The definition of EI includes four domains: 1) self-awareness, 2) self-management, 3) social awareness, and 4) relationship management. While the competency of empathy is categorized in the relationship management group, it holds as much weight for the definition as the four key categories for emotional intelligence. A simplified way of summing it up is the ability to recognize our feelings, identify others’ feelings, manage our responses, and use empathy to react accordingly. Is this something intentionally that we do consistently?

A good question to ask is “how can we strengthen our EI?” A great starting point is for us to become more self-aware. Understanding how you are wired is foundational for EI. The marketplace has numerous personality tools, including the Enneagram. The Enneagram has grown in popularity over the last 20 years, but this personality typing system has been around for 2,500 years tracing back to Greek philosophy and spanning many religions. The Enneagram tool teaches nine (ennea) personalities, which are displayed in the figure (gram). People are naturally drawn toward one of the nine number types. Each number represents a way people can operate in the world. It is a dynamic system that provides an in-depth dive into the way that you are hard-wired, then offers solutions for becoming a “better you.”

Once you have a strong understanding of yourself, which includes understanding your blind spots and the knowledge of characteristics of other personalities types, you are in a good position to begin focusing on self-management competency. When we are under stress, the self-management competency is more difficult to control. Letting our emotions go can often feel good, albeit only short-lived, but picking up the pieces after a misstep can take time, in some cases a lifetime, to repair.

Research shows that EI accounts for almost 90% of that which sets high performers apart from others with similar technical skills and knowledge. The personal workplace benefits include increased income and a higher propensity for promotion. The key benefits for companies are strengthened profitability attributed to increased revenue and higher employee satisfaction.

As our paradigm continues to shift, strengthening your EI will prepare you to navigate these ever-changing times.

Learn More

One way to gain more knowledge and application of EI is to participate in the Enneagram workshop on June 29 at the TBA Barrett Training Center in Nashville or online. Register at or contact Caroline Latham at for more information.

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