What makes a star performer? Using Emotional Intelligence to create a successful personal brand

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When it comes to success, we all know that intellectual ability can get you far, but IQ alone generally is not enough to get you over the top. Many successful individuals posses that certain something, that differentiating factor that propels them to “power brand” status in their industries. It’s that something that made you remember them for the way they made you feel. That something that made you really connect with them or respect them. That something that inspired you or influenced you in some meaningful way. That something is most likely Emotional Intelligence (or EQ for short)… and it factors strongly into how well we do in life.



Emotional Intelligence explains why, despite equal ability, training and experience, some individuals excel in life while others fall behind. And there’s plenty of solid research to support this. Good old IQ has now taken a back seat to EQ when it comes to predicting success.

We tend to know when we meet someone with high EQ. These are the individuals that are typically the stars in their profession. A star performer often has a personal brand that is memorable and elicits a strong, positive emotional association.

If we take a look at what EQ is, it’s easy to understand how critical it is to building a successful personal brand. According to Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist and psychologist, EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them. It can therefore help you to better understand and connect with your brand’s target audience, and communicate and leverage your brand effectively.

But what exactly is EQ comprised of? Let’s take a look at Garder’s five components of emotional intelligence to better understand what’s beneath the surface of those star performers:

Self-Awareness – This component comprises two skills: self-knowledge and self-control. People with high EQ are tuned in to their emotions and their effects, and as such, are not ruled by them. They are aware of their values and core beliefs, and are willing to take an honest look in the mirror. They have an awareness of their own strengths and how to utilize them, as well as their weaknesses and how to work at them. They have higher self-confidence because they possess a sense of self-acceptance and certainty about their capabilities. Many consider self-awareness to be the most important component of emotional intelligence.

Self-Regulation – This is the ability to regulate emotions and impulses; in other words, the ability to not let emotions take the driver’s seat. People who have developed self-regulation skills think before they act, and this self-control allows them to manage disruptive impulses and avoid making careless decisions. They tend to be trustworthy, maintain standards of honesty and integrity, and take responsibility for their own performance. They are adaptable and flexible with change, and also tend to be very innovative and open to new ideas.

Motivation – People with high EQ have a high achievement drive and so they strive to improve themselves and their situation, or to meet a standard of excellence. They are highly productive individuals and rise up to (and thrive on) challenges. They typically have clear goals and pursue them persistently, with an overall positive outlook, despite obstacles and setbacks. Their goals also tend to align with the goals of the group or organization. They take initiative and are ready to act on opportunities. They see the bigger picture and are willing to defer immediate results for long-term success.

Empathy – This is the ability to recognize how people feel (even when it’s not obvious) and understand their wants, needs and viewpoints. Think of this component of EQ as a type of receiver. If the receiver isn’t activated, we are left without the ability to read the signals of others and react appropriately to them. Individuals with high EQ therefore are good at “picking up signals” and anticipating and recognizing the needs of those around them, and often these skills are used to develop and lead others. They excel at listening and relating to others, and managing interpersonal relationships. They are politically aware and can read group dynamics and power relationships. They are good at leveraging diversity and avoid labeling and judging others too quickly. Empathy is often considered the second-most fundamental component of emotional intelligence.

Social Skills – Individuals with good social skills are those who are typically likeable and easy to talk to. They tend to be effective communicators and influential leaders. Their “people skills” help them form genuine bonds with others and help them develop and shine. They nurture instrumental relationships and also know how to understand, negotiate and resolve disagreements. These individuals also tend to be team players who create group synergy by working collaboratively with others and pursuing collective goals. The development of good social skills is therefore considered tantamount to success in life and career.

Now that we have a better sense of what’s beneath the surface, our next posts will take a look at measuring and developing your own EQ in order to build a successful personal brand.


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