This important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively manage emotions. In essence, stress tolerance is the ability to withstand and deal with adverse events and stressful situations without getting overwhelmed by actively and positively coping with stress. It is similar to tactical problem-solvingaimed at coming up with an immediate solution to deal with a stressful problem or situation. This ability is based on:
(i) choosing a course of action for coping with stress, which means being resourceful and effective, being able to come up with suitable solutions and knowing what to do and how to do it;
(ii) an optimistic disposition toward new experiences and change in general as well as towards our ability to successfully overcome the specific problem at hand, which assumes a belief in our ability to face and handle these situations; and
(iii) a feeling that we can control or influence the stressful situation in some important way.
As such, the ability to effectively cope with stress requires having a repertoire of suitable responses to stressful situations. It is also associated with the capacity to be relaxed, composed and to calmly face difficulties without getting carried away by strong emotions. People who have a well-developed capacity for stress tolerance tend to face crises and problems rather than surrendering to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They rarely avoid problematic situations but face them with confidence.
Research findings have shown that stress tolerance is closely associated with the ability to identify, understand and control emotions. It also has to do with an ability to cope with environmental demands, to influence stressful events and actively do something to improve the immediate situation.
This very important component of emotional intelligence is an essential leadership quality, and leaders who are adept in coping with stress are a true asset to any team and organization. When things get rough, they tend to take control of the situation and weather the storm.
This ability to actively cope and adjust effectively under pressure and in challenging, demanding and stressful situations is very important for leadership but for successful leadership. It entails concentrating on the immediate situation and paying attention to detail in order to continue to function effectively and get the job done. This is critical to the leader’s ability to withstand complex, trying and stressful conditions, in order to effectively function while remaining calm and composed. In light of the fact that organizational life and management tend to generate a great deal of stress and pressure, successful leaders must demonstrate adeptness in this characteristic in order to survive and hopefully thrive.
Anxiety often results when this component is not functioning adequately. People who score significantly low on the EQ-i™ Stress Tolerance scale may demonstrate symptoms related to stress and anxiety such as tension, irritability, apprehension, a tendency to worry, poor concentration, difficulty in making decision and even somatic complaints.