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Emotional intelligence

" 'Emotional intelligence' is a term used to portray a general level of psychological and social awareness. But what exactly does it mean? "

Four factors build to give your overall emotional intelligence profile:


The picture starts with your ability to recognise your own emotions accurately and read the impact they are having on your behaviour. If you score highly, you will be able to anticipate how you will feel when you have made a decision or taken a particular course of action.

You will know your emotional triggers – for example, that you avoid emotional scenes or quickly feel angry when you see people being bullied. You might have some idea of where the triggers come from and be able to spot when they are likely to trip you up.

You can build your self-awareness by reading, completing psychological tests to understand your own personality type and so on.


Your self-awareness enables you to manage your behaviour to suit the circumstances. Someone who scores highly on self-management will be able to control their emotions appropriately. When the tender that your team spent weeks working on goes to your competitors, your disappointment doesn't get in the way of you rallying the team.

Research evidence over the last twenty years has shown us that we can learn how to control our emotions and behaviour quite effectively.This is doubly important. Learning to empower ourselves -by overcoming our own disempowering thoughts - helps us to empower our teams. The creating an optimistic culture development exercise shows you how to shift yourself and your team into the best state of mind for success and happiness.

Social awareness

Social awareness reflects your ability to understand other people and what makes them tick. You will show this every day in the way you empathise with your team and colleagues. Even if you have developed a high degree of empathy from your upbringing, you can extend your knowledge through reading and getting feedback from your colleagues. Using the Myers-Briggs profile as a team development exercise is a common – and helpful - starting point.

In a work setting your emotional intelligence will also be apparent in your ability to read and manage the “politics” around the team and understand what your customers want.

Managing relationships

This is a big area for team leaders. Based on your strengths in the previous three areas you develop your own style for working with other people. If you score highly on relationship management you will enjoy working with people and know how to coach them. You will be good at developing individuals, building constructive team dynamics and creating an optimistic culture. You will inspire people around you and know how to influence stakeholders. You will be able to help people manage conflict and resolve disagreements.

All great skills for a leader to have.

Quick Tip

Daniel Goleman's books1 are credited with the explosion of interest in this topic since the early 1990's. They a good places to start the journey into a growing awareness of yourself and others.

You can see him explain the ideas in a couple of short videos: Crucial Competence: Emotional and Social Intelligence in Leadership and Daniel Goleman Introduces Emotional Intelligence

If you want to assess your own emotional intelligence in a formal way, the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations provides a list of online personal assessment reviews


1See for example Goleman, D; Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam, 2006 or Goleman, D; Working with Emotional Intelligence Kindle Edition, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009