Emotional Intelligence: A Missing Link to Your Career Success

When it comes to the leadership development, it is surprising how little attention is paid to the subject of Emotional Intelligence. Most leadership development programs jump on communication, relationship, attitude and performance without any regard to Emotional Intelligence which is the foundation of such behaviors.


Experts say that 20% of a person’s success is based on what is normally considered general intelligence i.e. the ability to learn, understand and reason (IQ). The other 80% is based on the ability to understand ourselves and interact with other people i.e. emotional intelligence (EI). If you look around, no doubt, great leaders are not the ones with the highest IQ but those with higher emotional intelligence.

In Finance profession we are trained to be less emotional and more logical and left brained. By developing our senses more towards objectivity, materiality and tangibility we become perfect accountants which is good for the early part of our career. But as we progress in our leadership responsibilities the same qualities tend to become barriers to our career growth.

Emotional Intelligence is fundamental to leadership growth. Our behavior, attitudes, communication style, relationship etc. are a reflection of our deep values, emotions, beliefs, and thoughts hidden inside us. Emotional intelligence is the connecting link. By creating self-awareness and developing self-discipline and control we can bring lasting change in our attitude, behavior and performance.

According to Matt Lewis, a senior partner at Boyden (one of the largest executive search firms) among the top qualities they look for a CFO role is high level of emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find. No wonder a CFO search can easily take 6+ months.

There is good news, however for serious-minded career professionals. Emotional Intelligence is a subject that can be learned and easily applied to day to day leadership practice.

If you are new to this subject, try this simple 3-step approach:

1. Gain the Knowledge:

Read the classic title ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman. Goleman is a living legend and global authority on the subject of Emotional Intelligence. The book is written in simple language with lots of practical examples. It’s an enjoyable read and has the power to change your life.

2. Do the Self-Assessment:

Carry out an Emotional Intelligence test. Don’t much worry about the final result or outcome. The main idea is to go through the self-evaluation and self-assessment process. Take your time and deliberate on each question thoughtfully. This is about your ability to succeed in your life. (Disclaimer: I am not associated with this website, nor I recommend to buy any of their products including the detailed report of this test.)

3. Clarify Your Personal Values and Commit to Follow:

What are your guiding principles in your life? How you want to look back at your life when you are in twilight years of your life. Give yourself a rocking chair test. This last step is profound and key to trigger a change. Evaluate and define or re-define your personal values that align well with your life mission and vision. Make a firm commitment and follow these values as your guiding principles in your day to day life.

If you are able to accomplish the above 3 steps diligently, you will create higher self-awareness and greater self-control leading to a noticeable change in your behavior. Your higher level of emotional intelligence will be naturally reflected in your communication, relationship and personal brand to further strengthen the foundation of your leadership.

Do you think it will work for you? Let me know your thoughts.


Saleem Sufi is a CFO Leadership Coach and Strategy Expert with more than 20 years CFO level experience working for top world class Fortune 500 and Private Equity owned companies in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and United States. He is the Founder and President of MECA CFO Alliance where he leads the CFO Academy with an entire focus on leadership development and career growth among the senior Finance community.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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