Thought Leadership at ESSEC Asia-Pacific: Emotional Intelligence and Salary


Emotional Intelligence and Salary. An Executive Summary with a focus on the research of Prof. Aarti Ramaswami, Deputy Dean, ESSEC Business School, Asia-Pacific.

Snubbed for that coveted promotion? And wondering why and how your colleague suddenly migrated to the top-floor senior management penthouse while you are stuck at the bottom of the totem pole – even if the results showed you were just as good? Aarti Ramaswami, Deputy Dean and Professor of ESSEC Business School, Asia-Pacific (and her fellow colleagues[TG1] ) unearths the underlying mystery of this feat and reveals the secret sauce for career success and higher salary – emotional intelligence (EI).

So, why do individuals with EI have better career prospects? To begin with, building strong interpersonal relationships, employing networking skills and demonstrating political acumen are critical to achieving long-term career success within a modern company where jobs are not static and require access to information and support across the organisation. As such, given their heightened ability to comprehend the importance of emotions and strategically use them in their communications and cognitions, employees with high EI become more deeply embedded in the firm’s social network, gain access to knowledgeable colleagues, and improve performance – which in turn leads to higher compensation.

Emotional intelligence is also an attractive quality for mentors. Who wouldn’t want to help someone who is strong in interpersonal skills, equipped with a good sense of self-awareness, open to accepting feedback and willing to improve oneself? Prof. Ramaswami points out that newbies with high EI are more likely to have senior mentors, which again has a positive influence on their career success.

Ultimately, while EI is important at all stages of a career, it becomes all the more important as employees climb the professional ladder. Senior positions witness a function change from operational to more strategic and individuals in such roles are required to be good at convincing, inspiring, persuading, and building rapport with others. Moreover, the ability to form strong networks is essential in reaching consensus and pushing through ideas when dealing with macro-level decision-making.

Knowing this, what can organisations do to improve emotional quotient? Given that it is beneficial to develop the skill early on, business schools must take EQ into account while designing new programmes for their cohorts of young leaders to reach out beyond the mastery of purely academic content. In addition, organisations in the educational and business sectors should focus on socio-emotional skills as well as cognitive skills during the student/employee selection process. Lastly, there is a need for organisation-sponsored mentoring programmes and efforts to offer less emotionally intelligent employees mentoring assignments that integrate interpersonal coaching and social skills training. And with organisations employing these measures, a higher salary may be just around the corner.

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