Purpose - The objective of this paper is to address the predictive validity of the behavioral approach of EI by Boyatzis and Goleman. There are two research questions guiding this study: emotional and social competencies are positively and significantly related with job performance; and emotional and social competencies will be more successful in predicting performance than universal personality dimensions, like the Big Five personality traits. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on the data of three medium-sized Spanish organizations (n = 223) that were involved in a competency management project based on emotional and social competencies. SPSS and structural modeling techniques available in the SEM program LISREL 8.51 software are used to enter the empirical analyses of the paper. Findings - Results show that emotional competencies and personality traits are valuable predictors of job performance as measured by the nominations procedure in the study. In addition, competencies seem to be more powerful predictors of performance than global personality traits. Research limitations/implications - The sample size is small. Practical implications - The paper will provide reflective practitioners with useful conceptual and developmental handles for emotional competencies within organizations. Originality/value - The paper helps to build a body of research that contributes to overcoming the paucity of evidence for the predictive validity of EI measures claimed by many authors.