The business of emotions

Researcher believes high emotional intelligence leads to greater corporate success

Date published: 2008-04-21 3:28:52 PM

The way a person handles their emotions may affect their chances at corporate success, according to Stéphane Côté, a business professor at the University of Toronto. Côté is conducting research on emotional intelligence—the ability to deal with your own and others’ emotions—and how it can affect job performance, the ability to deal with stress, and the likelihood of assuming leadership roles.

It will take a number of years of collecting data before the definitive results are in, but in the meantime, Côté believes that human resources experts are already discussing the importance of a high ‘emotional quotient’ when hiring professionals. There is certainly plenty of written material on the subject, from books to training manuals, which can serve to train interviewers to, for example, read a person’s emotions by observing their facial expressions.

Whether a person’s EQ stems from learned behaviour or a genetic predisposition remains to be seen—it’s an area that hasn’t had much study—but Côté has been able to determine, through evidence-based research, that people can be trained to adopt strategies to help them manage their emotions and, over time, have more positive work experiences.

In fact, Côté and his colleagues are developing new ways to teach emotional intelligence to business students at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, where they have developed what may be Canada’s first “emotions” course in an MBA program.

And if those MBAs put their emotional intelligence training into practice, Canadian businesses can look forward to greater economic success.

Stéphane Côté’s research on emotional intelligence is supported by SSHRC’s Standard Research Grants program.