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What is Emotional Intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence (EI)? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that Daniel Goleman (Dan), psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” gets from his audience. 

If you’re new to the work of EI or if you’re in need of a refresher, this article will define emotional intelligence and break down the four domains and twelve competencies that make up Dan’s framework. We’ll also provide guidance for how you can assess your own emotional intelligence and outline some resources you can use to continue your EI learning journey.

What does Emotional Intelligence (EI) mean?

Emotional Intelligence refers to a different way of being smart. EI is a key to high performance, particularly for outstanding leadership. It’s not your IQ, but rather it’s how you manage yourself and your relationships with others.

—Daniel Goleman, Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership

The 4 Domains and 12 Competencies of Emotional Intelligence


There are four domains and 12 competencies in Daniel Goleman’s model of EI

The four domains are as follows:

  • Self Awareness
  • Self Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Management

Under the four domains mentioned above, there are 12 competencies, which are as follows:

  1. Emotional Self-Awareness
  2. Emotional Self-Control
  3. Adaptability
  4. Achievement Orientation
  5. Positive Outlook
  6. Empathy
  7. Organizational Awareness
  8. Influence
  9. Coach and Mentor
  10. Conflict Management
  11. Teamwork
  12. Inspirational Leadership

What is a Competence?

A competence is a skill needed to perform a role, or task. There are two types of competency: Threshold Competencies and Distinguishing Competencies. Threshold Competencies are the minimum one needs to handle the cognitive complexity of a given task. Distinguishing Competencies are those traits found the the highest performers that set them above the average. Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis analyzed the internal competency models of dozens of organizations to identify Distinguishing Competencies common to all, and built their model of Emotional Intelligence from that data.

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The 12 Emotional Intelligence Competencies Defined

What is Emotional Self-Awareness? 

Emotional Self Awareness lies at the heart of emotional intelligence. Emotional self awareness is the ability to understand our own emotions and their effects on our performance. You realize how your feelings affect you and how well you’re doing. Your values and sense of purpose help set your course of action. 

What is Emotional Self-Control?
Emotional Self-Control (also known as emotional balance) is the ability to keep your disruptive emotions and impulses in check to maintain your effectiveness under stressful or even hostile conditions. With emotional balance, you recognize disruptive emotions—emotions that get in the way like high anxiety, intense fear or quick anger—and you find ways to manage your emotions and impulses. You stay calm and clear headed under stress, even during a crisis.

What is Positive Outlook? 

Positive Outlook is the ability to see the positive in people in situations and events. It means persistence in pursuing goals despite setbacks and obstacles, you can see the opportunity in situations where others would see a setback that could be devastating, at least for them. 

What is Achievement? 

The Achievement competence means that we strive to meet or exceed a standard of excellence. We look for ways to do things better. We set challenging goals, we take calculated risks. There’s a big paradox about achievement orientation, and that is when you have positive goals, it’s very helpful. But if you stay in this overdrive all the time and try to drive other people in the same pace, you can become a toxic leader. Even though achievement drive helps you get your career goals, it may make you unhappy in your life.

What is Adaptability? 

The Adaptability competence is flexibility and handling change and juggling multiple demands, adapting to new situations with new ideas or innovative approaches. It means you can stay focused on your goals, but easily adjust how you get there. You can meet new challenges and you’re nimble and adjusting to sudden change. You’re comfortable with the uncertainty that leadership can bring.

What is Empathy? 

The Empathy competence means you have the ability to sense others feelings and how they see things. You take an active interest in their concerns. You pick up cues to what’s being felt in thought. with empathy, you sense unspoken emotions. You listen attentively, to understand the other person’s point of view, the terms in which they’re thinking about what’s going on. empathic leaders are able to get along well with people of very different backgrounds and cultures, and to express their ideas in ways the other person will understand. Empathy doesn’t mean psyching out the other person so you can manipulate them, but rather, it’s knowing how best to collaborate with them.

What is Organizational Awareness? 

Organizational awareness means the ability to read a group’s emotional currents and power relationships, identify influencers, networks, and the dynamics that matter in making decisions. A leader who can recognize networking opportunities and read key power relationships will do a better job at leading. Such leaders not only understand the forces at work in an organization, but also the guiding values and unspoken rules that operate among people.

What is Influence? 

Influence as a competence refers to the ability to have a positive impact on others, to persuade or convince them to gain their support. If you’re strong in the influence competence, you’re persuasive and engaging and you can build buy-in from key people. Remember, leadership is the art of getting work done well through other people. And influence is the most powerful way to do that. 

What is the Coach and Mentor Competency? 

The Coach and Mentor competency is the ability to foster the long term learning or development of others. By giving feedback and support. You have a genuine interest in helping them develop further strengths. You give timely, constructive feedback, you understand the person’s goals, and you try to find challenges for them. 

What is Inspirational Leadership? 

The Inspirational Leadership competence is the ability to guide people to get the job done to bring up their best. With inspiration, you can articulate a shared mission in a way that motivates and offers a sense of common purpose. Beyond people’s day to day tasks. 

What is Teamwork? 

The teamwork competence is the ability to work with others toward a shared goal, participating actively sharing responsibility and rewards and contributing to the capability of the team. you empathize and create an atmosphere of respect, helpfulness and cooperation, you can draw others into active commitment to the team’s effort. Leaders skilled at the teamwork competence build spirit, positive relationships, and pride of identity at being on the team. And it’s not just teams. This competence holds the key to collaboration of any kind. 

What is Conflict Management? 

The conflict management competency means the ability to help others through emotional or tense situations, to tactfully bring disagreements into the open and to define solutions that everyone can endorse. leaders who take time to understand the different perspectives work toward finding a common ground on which everyone can agree. They acknowledge the views of all sides, while redirecting energy toward a shared ideal, or an agreeable resolution. Clearly being able to manage conflict matters for leaders. But that doesn’t mean convincing other people that yours is the correct opinion. There’s a difference between winning and effectively managing conflict.

How to Measure Your Emotional Intelligence (EI) Competencies

Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis developed an instrument in partnership with Korn Ferry to help people who want to develop their strengths in emotional intelligence. The assessment tool is called the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI). The ESCI is a 360 degree measure meaning that you first evaluate yourself, and then you ask up to 10 people who know you well, and whose opinions you value and trust, to rate you anonymously. The information collected is then fed back to you as an aggregate with a profile of your strengths and weaknesses. 

The value of the ESCI is that you can understand how others see you in relation to each of the emotional intelligence competencies. The tool also helps you identify which competencies you are skilled at and which you may need to strengthen in partnership with an EI-certified coach or develop on your own.

Emotional Intelligence Resources

If you are just beginning to explore emotional intelligence, our hope is that this article served as a valuable starting point. If you’re interested in delving deeper into emotional intelligence, below is a list of resources which may further your understanding of the brain science behind the work.

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The First Season of First Person Plural (FPP) is Here!

Welcome to First Person Plural!
Episode 0: Who We Are, and Where We’re Going

For years, Daniel Goleman’s work has been applied in personal development and business contexts to help people become better leaders. But what does emotional intelligence look like when we go beyond the first person application? 

The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here! Today marks the launch of the First Person Plural: EI & Beyond (FPP) podcast. 

Over the course of the first season, we hope to inspire FPP listeners to apply emotional intelligence to their lives, their relationships and the systems they are a part of — including their families, communities, workplaces, and society at large. 

This podcast will take you on a journey, shifting from the individual “I” into the plural “us.” In a world that has become increasingly more isolated, independent and Individualistic, we will explore how our emotions and actions cast ripple effects throughout the world.

Emotional intelligence will always begin with us — by looking within and honing our strengths in self-awareness and self-management. But this podcast will take you on a journey, shifting from the individual “I” into the plural “us.” In a world that has become increasingly more isolated, independent and Individualistic, we will explore how our emotions and actions cast ripple effects throughout the world. Using the theory of emotional intelligence, we will learn to ask deeper questions about change and collective good.

For more detail about what we can expect from the FPP podcast, we invite you to listen to the first introductory conversation ( “Episode 0”) between Dan and Hanuman Goleman.

Then, Be sure to keep an eye out for a bonus episode coming next week entitled, Emotional Intelligence 101: The Basics of EI. This episode will offer a brief overview of the theory of Emotional Intelligence for those new to the work or for anyone who could use a refresher.

Our first official three act episode, which explores wellbeing and purpose, will be released on February 9th. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest. 

None of this would be possible without the generous support from our Kickstarter supporters who helped us raise an incredible $12,000 to support the production of our first season! Thank you for believing in us and the power of emotional intelligence. Your enthusiasm and generosity has been a beacon as we delve into this adventure. 


If you’re interested in supporting our work and getting special behind-the-scenes access, consider becoming a monthly Patron!

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Give Negative Feedback with Empathy

Seth, the regional manager of an insurance agency, had a reputation for enforcing the rigid guidelines sent down from upper management, while doing the bare minimum himself. When one of his newest employees, Jason, failed to record customer information in accordance with guidelines, Seth arranged a meeting to set him straight. After talking Jason’s ear off about the importance of playing by the book, Seth handed him a few examples of correct customer reports and told him to study up or find work somewhere else.

Jason, who had never received detailed training on the customer reports, became instantly and thoroughly discouraged. While he still made an effort to get by, he felt increasingly apathetic about his job. He was not alone: Other members of the team felt the same disengagement. They avoided Seth and kept their heads down, trying to do their work without having to deal with him. No surprise that Seth’s reputation for intractability also prevented people from sharing their ideas with him. Result: sales plummeted.

Last I heard, Seth had been replaced by a new regional manager, tasked with revitalizing a floundering business. It’s no surprise – Seth was not just difficult to work with, but an ineffective leader as well. Looked at through the emotional intelligence lens, what Seth lacked was empathic concern.

Empathic concern is one of three types of empathy. The first type, cognitive empathy, lets us understand others’ perspectives. The second, emotional empathy, allows us to experience others’ emotions in our own body, giving us an immediate sense of what they feel. And the third, empathic concern, moves us to action. We care about other people’s well-being and feel motivated to help them. This is where empathy extends into compassion.

Consider results from a study of how empathic concern matters when we give negative feedback. Researchers found that leaders who gave negative feedback with empathetic concern got better responses from their employees, who also rated them as more effective. And this caused higher-ups to view these leaders as more promotable.

People respond more positively to criticism and are more likely to take feedback to heart when they feel their leader cares about their well-being and wants them to improve. Empathic concern makes feedback more effective, kickstarting positive change in employees and rippling throughout organizations.

Instead of grilling a new hire like Jason over an understandable mistake, Seth could have empathized with Jason’s need to learn how to perform his new job, and maybe also nodded to the tediousness of the task. Most important, he could have expressed his desire for Jason to succeed and offered to give him further guidance if needed. But by resorting to scripted lectures and unwarranted threats, Seth prevented a new employee from becoming engaged and motivated to do his best.

A leader’s emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) can make or break an employee’s performance for an organization. The benefits (or toll) can be seen in indicators like employee engagement, creativity, and turnover. EI – being intelligent about emotions – includes ways to manage our own emotions and help shape emotions in others. This includes the ability to give feedback effectively, to inspire and motivate, and to consider employees’ feelings when making decisions.

So, a lack of empathy in a manager or executive creates dissonance. Leaders who don’t consider their employees’ perspectives when delivering feedback foster a tense environment in which trust and collaboration cannot flourish.

EI training can help leaders get better at the range of people skills they need, such as recognizing their employees’ emotional reactions and communicating their understanding and concern. By attuning ourselves to others’ emotions, performance feedback becomes an opportunity to create positive change and cultivate engagement. And when employees experience this positive resonance, leaders – and their organization – can gain a range of value-added benefits.

Recommended Reading:

For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Coach and Mentor.

The primers are written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, co-creators of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model, along with a range of colleagues, thought-leaders, researchers, and leaders with expertise in the various competencies. Explore the full list of primers by topic, or get the complete collection!

For more in-depth reading on leadership and EI, What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought-after articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. It features more than half a dozen articles, including “Reawakening Your Passion for Work.”

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How Do You Coach for Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence, the ability to tune in to our feelings and those of others, and to effectively manage emotions in ourselves and our relationships, is key to high performance and outstanding leadership. As it is often difficult to recognize our own weaknesses, and to take steps for lasting change, the guidance of a coach can make a fundamental difference in improving Emotional Intelligence competencies.

By harnessing the energy of a client’s passions, a coach can develop practical applications for achieving specific goals and aspirations. A coach is also in a unique position to notice patterns in a client’s behavior, and can share these perceptions in a thoughtful and non-judgmental way, enabling the client to become more self-aware and to “unstick” unproductive habits.

Already Familiar with EI? Elevate Your Knowledge & Begin Coaching Others

Becoming a coach begins with fully understanding Emotional and Social Intelligence (ESI). The twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, are derived from an evidence-based structure. After analyzing the competency models of nearly 100 organizations, they distilled the fundamental competencies that distinguish outstanding leaders. This framework is essential to enhancing your own knowledge, as well as coaching clients in ESI. Keep in mind that these competencies are never fully achieved or mastered, rather they are a part of your overall Emotional Intelligence profile, which fluctuates based on circumstances and how much attention you provide to developing various skill sets.

Emotional social intelligence leadership competency model

 

What Makes a Great Coach?

A great coach fosters a safe and confidential environment for clients. They bring a clear point of view, offering guidance while being flexible and responsive to the needs of each individual person. They are kind, calm, direct, and respectful. They have impeccable listening skills and perceive patterns in a client’s behaviors that they articulate in a way that helps the client address them with positive intention.

A great coach helps clients discover/rediscover their passions and values, and channels these in practical applications. Under the guidance of a great coach, a client realizes the impact of their habits and learns how to spot and break unproductive patterns. Long after formal coaching is complete, the client of a great coach will be able to find and channel their own inner coach.

Practice is Essential

As with any skill, becoming a great coach requires practice. Coaching clients, reflecting on your progress and effectiveness, and receiving feedback from a Meta-Coach are the most valuable ways to practice coaching for Emotional Intelligence. In our Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, students coach clients through two 12-week blocks of the Emotional Intelligence Training Program: Foundational Skills and Relationship Skills. During this time, a Meta-Coach will be available to provide guidance and observe some coaching sessions. In this way, student coaches will have the benefit of an outside perspective on areas that need improvement, fully preparing them to pass their certification exam and coach clients for lasting and effective development of ESI.

Next Steps

Take a moment to consider which of the above is most prudent for you to explore.

  1. Expanding your personal understanding of the full suite of Emotional Intelligence competencies.
  2. Developing your interpersonal capacity as a coach.
  3. Gaining the training, experience, and practical application of these skills so that you can make a bigger positive impact with others.

Enrollment is now open for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. The majority of the certification will take place online, with two short residences in which participants and Meta-Coaches can get to know each other and practice coaching techniques and approaches.

 

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How Meditation Fuels Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

meditation and emotional intelligence

Not many of my readers know this, but long before I started writing about emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness, I studied meditation. I started back in my college days, and found daily meditation calmed my undergraduate jitters and helped me focus better. To get a scientific look at what I had experienced, I did my doctoral research in psychology at Harvard University on how meditation might help us be less reactive to stress.

Back then, there were but two scientific studies of meditation I could point to. Today, there are more than 6,000. This past year or so, working with my friend since grad school, Professor Richard J. Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we used rigorous standards to review all that research. We share the strongest findings in our book, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. While 99 percent of the studies failed to meet these standards, about 60 – one percent – were first-rate. They make a convincing case for the positive, lasting effects of meditation.

Meditation and Emotional Intelligence

While continuing my interest in meditation, over the past 20+ years, of course, I’ve studied and written about emotional intelligence and its powerful role in high performance and leadership. My colleague, Richard Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve University, and I developed a model of emotional and social intelligence that centers around twelve learned and learnable competencies. Now when people ask me how to develop those competencies, my response often includes the power of meditation to strengthen emotional intelligence.

It’s not that meditation makes you expert in all twelve emotional intelligence competencies. Not at all. Exhibiting these at a high level takes specific learning, particular to each competence. But meditation has some general impacts that can help upgrade several of these leadership skills.

For example:

Emotional Self-Awareness supports development of all of the emotional intelligence competencies, simply because it allows us a way to monitor and evaluate what we do and how we think and feel. Mindfulness meditation cultivates emotional self-awareness, helping us develop the mental ability to pause and notice feelings and thoughts rather than immediately reacting. Seeing our thoughts as just thoughts, and feelings as just feelings gives us a platform for choosing more skillfully how we react, or to change for the better what we habitually do.

Emotional Self-Control means that you are in charge of your disruptive reactions, rather than your feelings controlling what you do. I’ve written extensively about the executive centers of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) and the fight-or-flight emotional centers (and their trigger, the amygdala). Research now shows that regular practice of mindfulness meditation builds the pathways between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex so that the calming, thoughtful influence of the prefrontal cortex can curb the knee-jerk reactions of the amygdala.

Empathy – tuning into and reading accurately how others feel – helps us manage our relationships. While emotional self-awareness helps you know yourself, empathy means being able to understand the thoughts and feelings of the people around you. My new book Altered Traits reviews several studies that show certain kinds of meditation enhance empathy – for example, just eight hours of a form of meditation known as loving-kindness or compassion meditation has been shown to strengthen our mental brain’s circuitry for empathy.

Conflict Management
Conflicts big and small are inevitable in work and in life. Being able to understand different perspectives and effectively work toward finding common ground is an essential skill for leaders at all levels of organizations. The building blocks of skillful conflict management include the other three competencies I mention above. Before we can manage conflict effectively, we need to recognize our own disruptive feelings and manage them. We also need to understand the feelings and perspectives of others. Just as mindfulness meditation supports development of the skills for knowing our own feelings and controlling them, those skills enhance our ability to manage conflict.

Emotional intelligence means being skilled at a variety of competencies. Meditation alone will not make you excel in these skill sets, but it can help. To become adept at the competencies, get a strong foundation by first learning to become aware, to focus, to interact with others in a constructive and meaningful way. These abilities are exactly what meditation helps to cultivate.

Recommended Reading:

Altered Traits audio coverAltered Traits is the newest book by bestselling author Daniel Goleman and neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson. Through thoughtful analysis of countless studies, the authors offer the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it. At the heart of what Goleman and Davidson aim to impress upon readers and listeners is that beyond the pleasant states mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result.

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How to Influence with Emotional Intelligence

 

Today marks the release of Influence: A Primer, the latest in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence series, which explores the 12 EI competencies of leadership developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. Influence is a competency not often associated with Emotional Intelligence, yet it is essential to leadership as a social skill in order to make progress and get things done through – and with – others.

To help clarify this relationship, and illustrate the style of influence covered in our primer, we thought we’d share a few excerpts and quotes. The primer itself is available now for only $9, and will cover all of this in much greater depth, yet in a concise format you can read in less than an hour and fit in your pocket!

What is Influence?

Influence is a social competency. Leaders who are equipped with the emotional self-awareness and self-control to manage themselves while being adaptable, positive, and empathic can express their ideas in a way that will appeal to others. Influence is necessary for any leadership style, and can be done in a way that is meaningful and effective or fraught with resistance.

Leaders competent in influence will gather support from others with relative ease and are able to lead a group who is engaged, mobilized, and ready to execute on the tasks at hand. This is how real progress is made, how extraordinary successes are accomplished. How does a leader leverage these abilities to become influential? That is the focus of this Primer.

Daniel Goleman:

With the Influence competency, you’re persuasive and engaging, and you can build buy-in from key people.

You can’t order people to do what you want, you must persuade or inspire them to put forth their best efforts toward the clear objective you have defined.

Influence competence draws on empathy””without understanding the other person’s perspective and sensing their feelings, influencing them becomes more difficult.

Richard Boyatzis

The core intent of the Influence competency is a desire to get someone to agree with you. The behavior that demonstrates this competency is doing things that appeal to their self-interest and anticipating the questions they would have.

To the extent that we have a sphere of influence””and we all do in our families, with our friends, at work””we are leaders. Everyone is a leader in this sense.

Peter Senge

Real change often happens informally, with people who are good listeners, respectful of their culture, and who look for windows of opportunity.

Don’t worry about “getting everyone on board.” Instead, build a critical mass of people who have influence and then support them in spreading their influence.

Where there are matters you care about deeply, let go of the moral high ground of thinking “I’ve got to get people to do this,” and find where your interests and others’ naturally intersect.

Vanessa Druskat

Emotionally intelligent leaders typically recognize that team collaboration requires effective team member interactions, and such interactions are built upon the trust that grows out of relationship-focused norms and behavior.

In our work, we have found “emotion resources” or tools to be one of the most effective ways to enforce or reinforce team norms and, thus, to influence team behavior and outcomes.

Matthew Lippincott

Leaders with self-awareness and emotional self-control are better able to influence others and cultivate effective relationships.

By consistently demonstrating honesty, integrity, and authenticity in your interactions with people, a leaders’ ability to influence them significantly improves.

Matthew Taylor

Effective leaders use influence both to move people and inspire them to move. They do this by simultaneously communicating belief in their teams, appealing to their values, and holding them to high expectations for growth and achievement.

At any given moment, the leader has many variables to consider, including other people’s emotions, beliefs, values, goals, level of self-awareness, level of resistance, and level of skill. Ultimately, what the team””the individual or the group””needs is a just-right recipe of warm and demanding.

The Influence Primer is available now.

In Influence: A Primer, Daniel Goleman and colleagues introduce Emotional Intelligence and dive deep into the Influence competency. In a relatively short read, the authors illustrate the valuable skills needed to guide others in realizing the value of your ideas and point of view – not for the sake of exerting blind command, but to collaborate towards a positive vision with empathy and awareness.

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Daniel Goleman Defines Organizational Awareness

As we continue exploring the Emotional and Social Intelligence Competency of Organizational Awareness, there is no one better to share a simple and clear definition of what this competency is. Here is Daniel Goleman on Organizational Awareness.

This clip is an excerpt from Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership

Interested in learning more? See the following:

Organizational Awareness: A Primer

Coaching Leaders to Value and Manage Their Organizational Webs