Which Profession Requires the Most Emotional Intelligence?

Last Updated Apr 19, 2010 3:12 AM EDT

The answer to the question posed in that headline may surprise you.

Several weeks ago I attended a seminar entitled "Enhancing Motivation and Engagement using Emotional Intelligence" organised by the Australian Institute of Management. The main speaker was Rebekka Squire, Network Services Manager of Genos and Harrold Burman, who is an AIM trainer and who played a secondary role.
I must confess I found the Genos approach to Emotional Intelligence underwhelming. I did very much like the fact the Genos EI model of seven dimensions: Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Expression, Emotional Awareness of Others, Emotional Reasoning, Emotional Self-Management, Emotional Management of Others, and Emotional Self-Control. However that is because I like seven factor models as that is the limit of short-term memory.

However the Genos dimensions are "measured" by self-assessment tests and I don't like that. People are notoriously inaccurate reporters of their own ability. For example self-reported intelligence correlates only modestly with actual measured intelligence --- below .30 or so.

However it was at the end of the session that discussion started and that the was the question posed by Harrold Burman Which profession requires the most emotional intelligence?
Given that most of the audience were managers, it was not surprising that this was the first suggestion made. Some of the audience then modified this by saying that it would sales people that would require more EQ than a manager and having done both I would agree. Salespeople need much more emotional awareness, self-control, empathy and relationship management skills than managers who have power on their side.

There was strong push by several woman that motherhood is the profession that required the most EQ. There is no question that having and raising children requires a lot of EQ particularly in the areas of emotional awareness and management of others and emotional self-control. However Harrold Burman demurred.

After we all gave up, Harrold proposed that is it was the acting profession that required the most EQ. Not only does an actor have to get inside the emotions of the character he or she is portraying, the actor has to turn off the emotions generated during the day and get into the role when it is being performed. Thinking about this subsequently I have to agree with Harrold. Acting does require the most EQ.

I would be interested in hearing other views.