Part I: A Primer on Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence
This is the first post in a three-part series covering emotional intelligence (EI). This post covers the basic definition and concepts of emotional intelligence. Subsequent posts will focus on benefits of the model to leadership and organizational development and how to improve your own EI.

Monitor and choose your emotions

Emotional Intelligence has exploded into the business world since being introduced by Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence”. “The most basic definition of Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the resulting information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.[i]

There are those individuals and leaders who seem to have innate qualities that make them great beyond their intellectual expertise. They have an ability to communicate effortlessly, handle stress calmly without overreaching emotion, and to empathize and feel for others. Emotional intelligence is a framework that helps to define those mystery qualities into specific attributes.

Goleman breaks down emotional intelligence into five components:
  • Self-Awareness – The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.

  • Self-Regulation – The ability to control or redirect disruptive moods and the propensity to suspend judgment and think before acting.

  • Motivation – A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence

  • Empathy – The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and the skill in treating people according to their emotions.

  • Social Skill – Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks and an ability to find common ground and build rapport.[ii]

A journey of mastery

Even if you are not born with the gifts of leadership, emotional intelligence gives you a model and concepts that you can learn. Learning to master your emotional intelligence is not always an easy journey, it takes time and dedication.

Living in a space where your emotions flow naturally while giving you the ability to think clearly moves you closer to becoming a great leader. Mastering EI can help you become a leader who has that certain something where success seems to flow naturally.

Derek Lauber
image courtesy Brian Hillegas

[i] Borysenko, Joan. “Minding the Body, Mending the Mind”, Da Capo Press, 2007.

[ii] Goleman, Daniel. “What Makes a Leader?,” Harvard Business Review 76 (November-December 1998).


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