Have you ever wondered why some financial advisors and branch managers are considered star performers by their firms and clients alike, while others who appear just as knowledgeable and committed, do not experience the same level of success?

In fact, we are not judged solely on how knowledgeable we are, or by our training and expertise. Greater weight is being placed on how well we handle ourselves and understand others.

As the business world changes, so do the traits needed to excel. In this competitive world, internal qualities, such as resiliency, initiative, optimism and adaptability, are taking on a new meaning. This ability to demonstrate competencies that constitute the effective use of self-awareness and appropriate social skills in personal and work settings is called emotional intelligence.

Research indicates that IQ ranks second to your emotional intelligence in determining outstanding job performance. Emotional intelligence means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goal. Emotional intelligence is the X factor that makes the intangible difference between whether or not a financial advisor or branch manager is successful.

Your EQ Profile

As a professional, your clients look to you for guidance and expertise. They need to trust you to take care of their financial affairs. To do this, you need to know yourself and be able to convey your commitment to your clients in every communication with them. This means understanding your emotional quotient (EQ) profile and using the emotional strengths you have everyday.

Daniel Goleman, a pioneer in Emotional intelligence research, notes that there are five dimensions of emotional intelligence that determine our potential for learning the practical skills necessary to be a star performer. Here is a quick rundown of those dimensions:

Self-Awareness: Knowing one's emotions is the keystone of emotional intelligence;

Self-Regulation: Managing one's emotions refers to the ability to handle emotions in appropriate manners;

Motivation: Concentrating one's emotions on the achievement of goals within the context of mastery, paying attention and creativity fall into this category;

Empathy: Recognizing emotions in other are an essential people skill; and

Social Skills: Adeptness at relationships. Skills in this domain refer to the abilities which are common in people who are good at managing the emotions and their interactions with others. This area also refers to aspects inherent in popularity, leadership and harmonious interpersonal relationships.

Our level of emotional competence demonstrates how much of our potential we've translated into on-the-job capabilities. For example, being good at servicing clients is an emotional competence based on empathy. Likewise, trustworthiness is a competence based on self-regulation or handling impulses and emotions as well. Providing great client service and being trustworthy are two behavioral qualities that can make individuals outstanding in their work.

Accurate Self-Assessment

Focusing on your internal signals that tell you what you are feeling and using them as an ongoing guide to how you are doing is an essential skill that comes into play in most jobs, particularly those that involve dealing with people about any sort of sensitive matter.

This ability to utilize intuition and relate to people also lies at the heart of self-awareness. That is a vital foundation skill for the following three key emotional competencies of a star performer-emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.

Emotional awareness is the recognition of how our emotions affect our performance, and the ability to use our values to guide our decision making. Such awareness is our guide in fine tuning on-the-job performance of every kind. It also keeps us self-motivated, helps us accurately tune in to the feelings of those around us, and aids us in developing good work-related social skills, including those essential for leadership and teamwork.

For advisors this means knowing that their own emotions can reverberate in the interactions with clients-for better or worse. Individuals excelling in this competence know which emotions they are feeling and why. They realize the links between their feelings and what they think, do, and say. They recognize how their feelings affect their performance and have a guiding awareness of their values and goals.

Accurate self-assessment is a candid sense of our personal strengths and limits, a clear vision of where we need to improve, and the ability to learn from the experience. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and approaching your work accordingly is a competence found in virtually every star performer.

Star performers know themselves well and seek continuous feedback. People who excel in this competence are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They are reflective. They learn from experience, are open to candid feedback, new perspectives, continuous learning and self-development. And, they are able to show a sense of humor and have perspective about themselves.

Self-confidence is the courage that comes from certainty about our capabilities, values and goals. Individuals with self-confidence have a strong sense of their own self-worth. They are also able to present themselves with self-assurance and voice views that are unpopular and go out on a limb for what is right. They are decisive and are able to make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures.

The Good News

What if you have evaluated your Emotional Intelligence Competency and it is not at the level you would like it to be? Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in early childhood.

Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned. As we go through life and learn from our experiences, our competence can keep growing and continue to develop. So, the good news is that you can identify those emotional competencies you feel will help you excel as a financial advisor or branch manager and create a behavioral plan to allow you to achieve your goals.

Remember, believing in yourself and a willingness to make changes are essential qualities of star performers.

Dr. Denise Federer is a clinical psychologist, executive coach and founder of Federer Performance Management Group. She has been a consultant to the financial industry for 25 years.