Your EQ skills: got what it takes? So you thought the CPA exam was your last test? Read on.

Author:Akers, Michael D.

Question: Is success in life and career determined primarily by rational intelligence (the IQ or intelligence quotient) or emotional intelligence (the EQ or emotional quotient)? In other words, what's more important: intelligence or intuition? Historically the professional accounting literature has placed little emphasis on behavioral issues such as EQ, although human behavior underlies most of what is written and taught about professional accounting. Now managers place increased value on behavioral skills that help people in the workplace. Look at this statistic: The productivity of one-third of American workers is measured by how they add value to information. Doesn't that describe CPAs exactly? This article will examine the ways in which EQ is crucial to CPAs' success and how they can cultivate EQ if they haven't got a lot of it.

The AICPA and the Institute of Management Accountants recognize that emotional intelligence skills are critical for the success of the accounting profession. In CPA Vision 2011 and Beyond: Focus on the Horizon (, the AICPA identifies emotional skills as extremely important, and an IMA research study says "interpersonal skills" are most important for success as professional accountants. In another study researchers examined the knowledge and abilities that students need to succeed in different professions and concluded they require a portfolio of skills that includes EQ. Is there a CPA or accounting student who can afford to ignore his or her EQ?


"Basically, your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them," says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist. Five major categories of emotional intelligence skills are of value to professional accountants.

Self-awareness. The ability to recognize an emotion as it "happens" is the key to your EQ. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them. The major elements of self-awareness are

Emotional awareness. Your ability to recognize your own emotions and their effects.

Self-confidence. Sureness about your self-worth and capabilities.

Self-regulation. You often have little control over when you experience emotions. You can, however, have some say in how long an emotion will last by using a number of techniques to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression. A few of these techniques include recasting a situation in a more positive light, taking a long walk and meditation or prayer. Self-regulation involves

Self-control. Managing disruptive impulses.

Trustworthiness. Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity.

Conscientiousness. Taking responsibility for your own performance.

Adaptability. Handling change with flexibility.

Innovation. Being open to new ideas.

Motivation. To motivate yourself for any achievement requires clear goals and a positive attitude. Although you may have a predisposition to either a positive or a negative attitude, you can with effort and practice learn to think more positively. If you catch negative thoughts as they occur, you can reframe them in more positive terms--which will help you achieve your goals. Motivation is made up of

Achievement drive. Your constant striving to improve or to meet a standard of excellence.

Commitment. Aligning with the goals of the group or organization.

Initiative. Readying yourself to act on opportunities.

Optimism. Pursuing goals persistently despite obstacles and setbacks.

Empathy. The ability to recognize how people feel is important to success in your life and career. The more skillful you are at discerning the feelings behind others' signals the better you can control the signals you send them. An empathetic person excels at

Service orientation. Anticipating, recognizing and meeting clients' needs.

Developing others. Sensing what others need to progress and bolstering their abilities.

Leveraging diversity. Cultivating opportunities through diverse people.

Political awareness. Reading a group's emotional currents and power relationships.

Understanding others. Discerning the feelings behind the needs and wants of others.

Social skills. The development of good interpersonal skills is tantamount to success in your life and career. In today's cyberculture all professional accountants can have immediate access to technical knowledge via computers. Thus, "people skills" are even more important now because you must possess a high EQ to better understand, empathize and negotiate with others in a global economy. Among the most useful skills are

Influence. Wielding effective persuasion tactics.

Communication. Sending clear messages.

Leadership. Inspiring and guiding groups and people.

Change catalyst. Initiating or managing change.

Conflict management. Understanding, negotiating and resolving disagreements.

Building bonds. Nurturing instrumental relationships.

Collaboration and cooperation. Working with others toward shared goals.

Team capabilities. Creating group synergy in pursuing collective...

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