High EQ is a strong predictor of teamwork. This is because many of the skills required to operate successfully in, and as a team, are EQ competencies. Individuals with high EQ tend to be better at communicating their ideas, intentions and goals. They are better at expressing themselves, and are more assertive and sensitive. EQ is related to effective and efficient coping skills, which enable teams to deal with demands, pressure and stress better. High EQ leaders can accurately identify what their teams feel and need, as well as be more inspiring and supportive. They generate more enthusiasm and optimism and are less likely to engage in negative, defensive and destructive coping and decision-making styles (Furnham, 2012). Three specific EQ skills that contribute toward healthy teamwork are Interpersonal Relationships, Problem Solving and Emotional Expression. 

Interpersonal relationships

Refers to the “skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterised by trust and compassion” (MHS, 2011). The very definition of a team requires more than one person. This means that you cannot have a team without interpersonal relationships. The quality of those relationships however is what makes the difference. Teams that have good relationships with one another are willing to take risks, innovate, be vulnerable and lean in when things get tough, all because they trust one another and feel safe. 

Problem Solving

Is the “ability to find solutions to problems in situations where emotions are involved. Problem solving includes the ability to understand how emotions impact decision making” (MHS, 2011). When you have a group of individuals working towards a common goal, you are bound to encounter problems. Not just any problems, but, “real life” problems, the kind that don’t necessarily have right answers, but require wisdom and an ability to navigate emotion. This is what the EQ skill of problem solving is all about. 

Emotional Expression

Is “openly expressing one’s feelings verbally and non-verbally” (MHS, 2011). Being able to safely and openly express yourself in a team context is key to team building and collaboration. A recent study found that emotional openness, and the ability to authentically express oneself at work, correlated positively with teamwork and creativity (Parke et al., 2021). However, emotional expression isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Some find it particularly challenging to express what they feel and experience to others. This, in turn, hinders authentic connection and teamwork. A key component to fostering open emotional expression is to allow the sharing of a range of emotions, not only those typically considered “positive”. This involves actively opposing what Susan David terms “toxic positivity” – the pressure to show only positive emotion, which leads to rigidity and inauthentic interactions (David, 2017).