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Emotional Intelligence Is the Key

Director of Learning and Development David Holmes shares how combining social and emotional awareness with a client-first mentality is paramount in creating a culture of constant service at State National. Find out 3 components of this awareness you need to develop strong EI and ask yourself, “How will this idea improve the client experience?”

Emotional Intelligence Is the Key

State National Fuses Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Culture To Foster an Atmosphere of Continuous Improvement

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)? Also sometimes called emotional quotient or EQ, emotional intelligence can be defined in several ways. Some would say it’s your ability to communicate well with others. According to Google’s English dictionary provided by Oxford Languages, it’s the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Social scientist and science journalist Daniel Goleman, a pioneer of EI research and author of books including the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, defines it as the ability to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

Emotional Intelligence Is Essential for Both Personal and Professional Success.

EI is a frequent leadership and personal development topic. In his book Working With Emotional Intelligence, Goleman presents a multitude of research spanning over twenty-five years showing that EI is much more closely correlated with long-term career success than traditional IQ-type intelligence is. In fact, EI is one of the best predictors of success. As Goleman describes it, it’s “a different way of being smart.”

Here at State National, it is a given that all of our employees are highly intellectually capable, because that’s part of our hiring process. So we are able to place a focus on teaching EI and infusing it into our culture, and it’s an important part of what makes us a highly effective organization.

How Does State National Look at Emotional Intelligence Differently?

In our Learning and Development Department, and throughout our company, we agree with EI experts’ position that emotional intelligence isn’t something fixed at birth, or that each person only has so much of. We know it’s something you can learn, and a skill you can continue to develop throughout your career and your lifetime.

Although presentations of this concept vary, EI is most commonly broken down into 4 main categories:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Management

Each of these categories contains different competencies that make up overall EI. Today I’d like to talk about three of them that are especially fundamental to our culture at State National.


This includes the ability to accurately pick up on the emotions of other people and understand why they feel the way they do. It involves skillful and attentive listening, the ability to see another’s point of view, and knowing how to express your ideas in ways other people will understand.

Organizational Awareness

On an individual level, this includes having the ability to notice and identify influencers, networks, power relationships, and other dynamics within your company, as well as knowing and understanding its goals, values, norms, relationships, and “unspoken rules.” At an organizational level, it reflects the degree to which the company itself operates congruently and with integrity — that its day-to-day operations as well as long-term strategies are in agreement with its stated mission and values.

Service Orientation

This is a critical part of creating a superior customer experience. It involves anticipating, recognizing, and meeting customers’ needs, and seeking ways to increase their loyalty and satisfaction. It’s being a trusted advisor who genuinely wants to see the client happy and successful. It also applies to how employees respond to each other as colleagues and teammates. A true service orientation can’t be faked — others can sense when assistance is being offered begrudgingly or in an uninterested way vs. proactively and gladly, with a true wish to solve problems and be of service.

“By teaching people to tune in to their emotions with intelligence and to expand their circles of caring, we can transform organizations from the inside out and make a positive difference in our world.”

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

These three essential components of EI are not only important for training and development purposes, they are the cornerstone of an emotionally intelligent culture. When these three components move beyond training and permeate your company’s everyday culture, the results are far-reaching.

At State National, we passionately believe in these principles, and we instill and encourage all of our employees to ask questions, to listen to and respect other views and perspectives, and to approach every aspect of their job with a service-first mindset. Opening with a more empathetic, aware, and service-oriented approach results in project teams working outside the box and developing the best solutions for our company, our products, and our clients.

How Does State National Infuse Emotional Intelligence Throughout the Whole Organization?

Organizational awareness is reached through ongoing open communication from the top down, from the bottom up, and laterally among peers. We encourage all employees to use their daily work to look for new and better ways to perform. Management has clear communication with employees, utilizing a two-way town hall approach that lets employees communicate and solicit questions at all levels of the company directly to our internal leaders. This communication ensures that everyone at State National understands the direction of the company and knows their voice matters.

Combining social awareness with a client-first mentality is paramount in creating a culture of constant service, which ultimately translates to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Because of our purposeful EI orientation, everyone at State National is always asking themselves, “How will this idea (or decision, or action improve the client experience?” It is one thing to read articles and books, listen to podcasts, watch TED Talks, and learn new emotional intelligence techniques — but it is truly an enlightening experience to be part of a company that has critical EI elements built deeply and solidly into its culture.

Want to explore working for a company that values emotional intelligence? Check out careers at State National today!

Additional Tools for EI Development

David Holmes
David Holmes
David Holmes joined State National in 2008 as Director of Learning and Development and spent more than a decade building a learning culture and expanding the sense of “customer first” throughout the company. In his current role as Director, Sales & Service Support, he continues to expand employee service and leadership training, now with a specialized focus on development of State National’s sales team and unique dedicated service team.

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