The importance of Emotional Intelligence for Learning Professionals

October 31, 2018 4:58 AM | Lovina Akowuah (Administrator)

Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger Tresha Lovell Program Manager at Johnson Controls.

The demands made upon training professionals to help organizations become successful are steadily increasing. Many are having to balance multiple projects, while both learning and improving their skills in talent development areas of expertise, and in ‘non-traditional’ areas like project management. This is often occurring as learning professionals are assisting senior business leaders, new hires and high potentials to develop the skills needed for managing, leading and coaching others within the organization. 

To maintain this balancing act and excel, highly developed Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a necessity. According to Fast Company, “90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in pressurized situations in order to remain calm and in control” (Thygesen, “Why Emotional Intelligence is More Important to Hiring Thank You Think”). Although a core requisite for job performance, Emotional Intelligence is rarely the focus of development in traditional certification and degree programs for learning professionals. In this article, we’re going to explore how growth in Emotional Intelligence can improve the performance of training professionals in the areas of communications, motivating learners and coaching. As learning professionals develop their Emotional Intelligence, they are better equipped to help organizations become more successful.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to “recognize, understand and manage our own emotions” and to “recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others” (Institute for Health and Human Potential). EI aims to help people become “aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and [learn] how to manage those emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure” (Institute for Health and Human Potential). To develop EI in others, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves state that you must understand your own “Personal Competence,” which is comprised of “your own self-awareness and self-management skills” (Bradberry & Graves, pp 23.) When your emotions are triggered, how do you react to different situations and circumstances? Self-awareness is a skill that directly correlates to success: “83% of people that are high in self-awareness are top performers” (Bradberry & Graves, pp 26). This is also the starting point for emotional intelligence development. By understanding oneself and actively working on those areas in which gaps exist, learning professionals can begin growing in Emotional Intelligence and help others to do the same (Thygesen, “Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important To Hiring Than You Think”).

The two remaining areas of Emotional Intelligence are Social Awareness and Relationship Management (Bradberry & Graves pp 38 -50). Social awareness is the “ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them,’ while Relationship Management focuses on “[using] your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully” (pp 38, 44). A core function of a learning professional is working effectively with others. Stakeholders, project team members, other learning professionals and vendors are those commonly collaborated with when uncovering learning needs and developing learning solutions for organizations. Solid communications skills are essential for team building, conflict resolution and needs analysis. Being able to meet people where they are and build professional relationships increases effectiveness when working with stakeholders, creating relevant learning solutions, and delivering those solutions to learner audiences. Therefore, Emotional Intelligence development are the foundations for job success.

In addition to communications, coaching and motivation are other areas that can also improve as a direct result of Emotional Development growth. As a result of understanding themselves and others better, training professionals can uncover motivation drivers in others at a faster rate than those with lower Emotional Intelligence (Administrate “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training”). In addition, highly developed Emotional Intelligence also develops empathy, creating the impression of being approachable, and equips you to coach others, helping you to identify areas of strengths and opportunities to grow to them “to rise to the level” of their potential (Administrate “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training).

As organizations continue to look for ways to improve employee performance, company leaders must realize the necessity to invest in Emotional Intelligence development for their learning professionals. These critical skills, coupled with traditional talent development competencies, will ensure your learning team is prepared with the skills necessary to take your organization to the next level.


- Bradberry, Travis and Jean Greaves. Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart, 2009.

- “What is Emotional Intelligence?” Institute for Health and Human Potential,

- “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training.” Administrate, Administrate Limited, 7, July 2014,

- Thygesen, Kes. “Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important To Hiring Than You Think.” FastCompany, FastCompany, 21, April 2014,


About the Author

Tresha Lovell is a Talent Development professional with over 7 years of  corporate learning experience. After starting her career in IT and business development, Tresha transitioned into training and development and has used her ability to design and implement learning solutions in various organizations, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and SoftwareONE. Tresha's experience includes delivering training for complex technology solutions, systems, and consultative sales methodologies. A proven communicator and presenter, Tresha's passion is to equip both individuals and business leaders with the skills needed to uncover and fulfill their purpose.

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