What is emotional intelligence?

Help me understand emotional intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence?

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie Mackee and Relly Nadler are prominent published authors and researchers in the field of emotional intelligence. Nadler, through his research and published in his book – Leading with Emotional Intelligence said that IQ alone is not enough for leadership success.


IQ is your cognitive and analytical ability.  A lot of people get hired through IQ and experience and a lot of people derail because they fail to understand and develop their own emotional intelligence.


Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to understand and manage yourself and others. Emotional intelligence helps you keep your job and grow your career.  Whether you like it or not, you will have to learn how to deal with people, their emotions, what makes them tick and manage your own in the process as well.

Are You Born with Emotional Intelligence or is it Learned?

Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic. While IQ is relatively fixed, we believe EQ can be developed. In order to improve your emotional intelligence, it is important to first know where you are in the emotional intelligence scale.

  • Once you know what your strengths and areas of improvement are, you can improve your emotional intelligence by focusing on one or two areas to develop.  Try not to be overwhelmed by the data, choose only one or two areas that you want to further strengthen or develop
  • Next, ask your direct reports, bosses, peers to do an assessment of your emotional intelligence. Compare their answers to your own self assessment
  • Identify 1-2 areas that you want to focus.  Do not try to change everything at once.  Develop new ways of responding to people, use new behaviors and consistently practice. Overtime, you will learn new habits.
  • In order to improve your emotional intelligence, work with a peer coach or hire an executive coach.  We all know that left to our own devices, we do not really know how to change our behavior. Find an accountability partner, someone who will hold you accountable to the change that you want to see in yourself.


At our emotional intelligence workshops, Dr. Nadler and I ask the participants questions to trigger their knowledge of the topic. A sample question reads: “One of your co-workers has a habit of taking credit for your work and this bothers you.


How do you respond?

Take this short quiz and figure out your own emotional intelligence:

  1. Highlight your co-worker’s comments in the discussion and add that you personally have been working on this very issue.
  2. Make a complaint about the behavior to your supervisor.
  3. Talk about your coworker behind his back.
  4. Keep quiet and let it pass. You do not want to cause any conflict.


Yes, it is a rather intellectual concept, but it is all about understanding and managing your emotions. You can learn more about emotional intelligence by taking the quiz or attending one of our workshops.


Liza Sichon is the founder of Executive HR Coach. She coaches executives and their teams on how they can meet their financial goals, advance their careers and live fulfilling lives.  For more information, visit her website http://executivehrcoach.com/emotional-intelligence-need/ and http://www.linkedin.com/in/lizasichon/.

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