If you’ve ever watched a not-so-smart but charismatic co-worker rise in the promotion ranks, then you know that IQ isn’t everything.

Psychologists agree: IQ, your intelligence quotient, accounts for only about 10% of the recipe for success. From acing the interview to making the sale or getting a raise, it’s often emotional intelligence–the ability to identify and manage emotions–that will get you the job or promotion.

But that will only take you so far. Recent research shows that beyond the manager level, emotional intelligence (EQ) scores take a dive, with CEOs having the lowest EQ of all job titles analyzed. The average EQ level of a CEO is even lower than the EQ level of an “individual contributor” (non-management and non-supervisory staff).

“Once leaders get promoted they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence. They spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them,” writes Dr. Travis Bradberry of TalentSmart. This demonstrates that emotional intelligence is a skill that requires practice to maintain. It can diminish in periods of dormancy.

The study by TalentSmart analyzed a database of more than one million emotional intelligence profiles.

Although TalentSmart’s research shows that high-level staffers have low EQ levels, it’s the CEOs, VPs and directors with the highest of the lowest EQ scores that perform the best in their respective roles.

So whether you’re aiming for your first promotion or a CEO of the year award, boosting your EQ is a sure way to shoot for success. And the good news is that unlike IQ, which is very difficult to change, you can improve your EQ with practice and persistence.

Here are a few ways you can boost your EQ levels.

Learn how to make friends instantly

Many studies show that the most coachable element of EQ is interpersonal skills. So if you aren’t naturally charming or apt to make fast friends with the next person you meet, read Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, for a free lesson on how to make people like you instantly.

The audiobook is also available free online.

Take a course in assertiveness training

“Acquire the lion’s confidence with the artist’s calm perspective.”

That’s part of the course description for a great assertiveness training course that I took at George Brown College in Toronto.

Although a good marker of emotional intelligence is the ability to maintain positive relationships with people, if you are well liked but complacent in your relationships at work, that promotion will probably go to someone else.

If you don’t have the gift of the gab, it can be difficult to give criticism or voice opinions and ideas in a natural, non-abrasive way. Assertiveness training teaches practical ways to be honest about your needs, wants and opinions while considering the wants and needs of others.

Hire an EQ coach

Hiring an EQ coach may seem extreme, but the benefits of boosting your EQ skills can create positive change in all areas of your life: emotionally intelligent people are happier, healthier, richer and less anxious or stressed at work and in their personal life. According to the Harvard Business Review, good coaching programs can easily boost EQ levels by 25%.

Look for a certified life coach or management consultant to find EQ coaching in your city.


Nicole Wray is a member of Generation Y and a regular contributor to Workopolis.
Follow Nicole on Twitter
Nicole’s articles on Workopolis