The Intelligence of Emotions

Emotional Intelligence has been making a lot of headlines.  As a researcher of emotional intelligence, applying it to political leadership decision-making, it is a subject I am passionate about.  The questions I’m often asked are: What is it?  What is the big deal about it?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and master the control of emotions and social skills to guide and motivate followers1 to achieve goals for a greater good.  Notice the mention of greater good.  As we can see in the political arena today, it is certainly easy to manipulate an audience for any cause.  Manipulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it should be used to for a greater good with an ethical value.

Emotional intelligence research has proven that it enhances effective leadership, organizational politics, learning, and conflict resolution.2  Research has been conducted on public and private organizations, foreign government organizations, primary education, and leadership education.

Emotional intelligence is actually an old concept, dating as early as mid-300 BC to Socrates and Aristotle3:

“Anyone can be angry – that is easy.  But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and at the right way – That is not easy.”  ~  Aristotle

In the 1920′ s through the 1940’s, Wechsler and Thorndike discussed social intelligence and the influence on behavior of people and children.3  Wechsler created a measurement test of social intelligence in the mid-1940’s.  Dewey and Freud addressed emotional literacy and self-awareness in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Then Mayer & Salovey brought the topic back to life by publishing their first study of what they coined emotional intelligence in 1990.  At first it was a buzz.  Years later, Goleman broke down emotional intelligence into 5 main components: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Empathy, Motivation, and Social Skills.  Goleman eventually modified the components into 4: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management.4

Learning, applying, and knowing the components of emotional intelligence can reduce emotional bias, motivate greater followership, increase adaptability, improve communication and relationship skills, and increase the ability to critically analyze.  It is beneficial to learn and is applicable in the personal life, in the business world, or in a team setting.

Do you know what your emotional intelligence level is?  Would you like more learning about how to build emotional intelligence?


1. Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

2. Bradberry, T. & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart.

3. Salovey, P., Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. (2004). Emotional intelligence: Key readings on the Mayer and Salovey model. Port Chester, NY: Dude Publishing.

4. Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post