Emotional Intelligence or Leadership Fundamentals?

Oct 24th, 2012 | By | Category: CAMPUS NEWS, College of Business, PROGRAMS, SERVICES TO STUDENTS

Thus we can experience fear, confidence, desire, anger, pity, and generally any kind of pleasure and pain either too much or too little, and in either case not properly. But to experience all of this at the right time, toward the right objects, toward the right people, for the right reason, and in the right manner—that is the median and the best course, the course that is a mark of virtue

Aristotle, 350 B.C.E./1962, p. 43

Aristotle provides insight into the effective use of emotions and could be considered one of the earliest advocates for the importance of EI. He suggests that the mark of virtue is being aware of the right emotion at the right time then using that recognition for the right purpose. Since Aristotle’s time, our understanding of the impact, use and definition of EI has grown considerably. This article will introduce you to EI through a definition of the term and construct. In addition, we will highlight the research connecting EI to leadership and organization success and we will explore some “questions” regarding EI. We hope to shed light on EI as a tool to assist your practice of leadership. Let’s get started…

EI Defined

EI is defined as the ability to recognize one’s own emotions, sense emotional input from others, and react appropriately to that input. The definition and construct of EI was developed by Salovey and Mayer and popularized through a robust series of books and articles by Daniel Goleman. Because of its value to understanding and developing leadership practice through EI, Goleman’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “What makes a leader?” has become the most widely requested HBR reprint in the last 40 years. Let’s explore Goleman’s approach.

Goleman’s model (shown in Figure 1) includes two domains and four competencies. The first domain is Personal Competence which relates to how we manage ourselves. This domain includes self-awareness which is the ability to recognize and assess one’s own emotions and to have self-confidence in one’s capabilities. In addition, this domain includes self-management which is the ability to control, demonstrate, adapt, and effectively use one’s emotions.

The second domain is Social Competence which determines how one manages relationships. This domain includes social awareness which is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others through the use of empathy. Relationship Management is also included in this domain and is defined as the ability to use emotional input in interactions with others regarding motivation, influence, change, teamwork and collaboration.

We often frame Goleman’s model using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) analysis that many of our clients are familiar with. A SWOT analysis has both an internal (strength/weakness) and external (opportunity/threat) orientation. In Goleman’s model the internal orientation is represented by self-awareness and self-management. The external dimension is represented by social awareness and relationship management, how we are interacting with others.

Figure 1

Goleman’s Four Quadrant Model


Personal Competence


Social Competence

Awareness (to see)

Self Awareness

Social Awareness

Management (to do)

Self Management

Relationship   Management


Business Case

EI has been tightly linked to leadership effectiveness because emotions play an important role in determining professional behavior. Saarni (2000) proposed that, “emotions are functional: they serve to goad us into action whereby we initiate, modify, maintain, or terminate our relationship to the particular circumstances we are engaged in” (p. 70). In addition, researchers have suggested that the capacity to perceive emotions and practice empathy is critical to leadership success. One could use emotions in the workplace to create an effective organizational culture, improve decision making, support individuals, and enhance working relationships.

Others have seen strong links between emotional intelligence and successful leadership practice through the increased use of participative management, putting people at ease, self-awareness, composure, building and mending relationships, doing whatever it takes, decisiveness, confronting problem employees, and change management. Another study suggested that, “Emotionally intelligent individuals received greater merit increases and held higher company rank than their counterparts. They also received better peer and/or supervisor ratings of interpersonal facilitation and stress tolerance than their counterparts.” (Lopes, Grewall, Kadis, Gall, & Salovey, 2006, p. 132). These leadership studies have led to the belief that EI could also be an effective tool for improving organizational performance.

Researchers believe that EI influences organizational effectiveness in a number of areas including, employee recruitment and retention, development of talent, teamwork, employee commitment, morale, and health. In addition, EI was shown to improve innovation, productivity, efficiency, sales, revenue, quality of service, customer loyalty, and client or student outcomes. There is also some indication that the use of greater emotional awareness and management led to work teams that exhibited better performance because of the improved ability to exchange information, problem solve and make decisions, and engage in productive conflict management.


While the research that supports EI as a successful leadership competency and ability is substantial the construct has faced scrutiny. For example, some view Goleman’s claim that EI accounts for between 85 and 90% of the difference between star performers and average performers in senior leadership positions as an indication that EI, “promise(d) more than can be delivered” (Zeidner, Roberts, & Matthews, 2008, p. 74). Critics offered that EI has tried to integrate everything but IQ and therefore fell short in terms of specificity and clarity. In addition, the multidimensional nature of EI has caused difficulty in distinguishing EI from other intelligences and personality traits.


Despite the cautions listed above, it has been suggested in the Harvard Business Review that EI has become a fundamental leadership competence that enhances professional success;

In hard times, the soft stuff often goes away. But emotional intelligence, it turns out, isn’t so soft. If emotional obliviousness jeopardizes your ability to perform, fend off aggressors, or be compassionate in a crisis, no amount of attention to the bottom line will protect your career. Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury you can dispense with in tough times. It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is key to professional success. (Harvard Business Review, 2003, p. 95)

Our programs offer opportunities for students to learn, practice and develop their own EI competencies. In addition to our coursework, below are a number of articles and resources for your own ‘self-study.’ Happy reading and exploration!


Abraham, R. (1999). Emotional intelligence in organizations: A conceptualization [Electronic version]. Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 125(2), 209-225.

Abraham, R. (2000). The role of job control as a moderator of emotional dissonance and emotional intelligence-outcome relationships. The Journal of Psychology, 134(2), 169-184.

Abraham, R. (2004). Emotional competence as antecedent to performance: A contingency framework. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 130(2), 117-143.

Aristotle. (1962). Nicomachean ethics. (M. Ostwald, Trans.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. (Original work published in 350 B.C.E.).

Ashkanasy, N.M., & Daus, C.S. (2002). Emotion in the workplace: The new challenge for managers. Academy of Management Executive, 16(1), 76-86.

Becker, T. (2003). Is emotional intelligence a viable concept? Academy of Management Review, 28(2), 190-197.

Boyatzis, R. E. (1999). Using tipping points of emotional intelligence and cognitive competencies to predict financial performance of leaders. Psicothema, 18, 124-131.

Carmeli, A., & Josman, Z.E. (2006). The relationship among emotional intelligence, task performance, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Human Performance, 19(4), 403-419.

Checkland, P. (2004). Systems theory and management thinking. American Behavioral Scientist, 38(1), 75-91.

Cherniss, C. (2000). Social and emotional competence in the workplace. In Bar-on, R., & Parker, J.D.A. (Eds.), The handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 433-458). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cherniss, C. (2001). Emotional intelligence and organizational effectiveness. In Cherniss, C., & Goleman, D. (Eds.), The emotionally intelligent workplace: How to select for, measure, and improve emotional intelligence in individuals, groups, and organizations (pp. 3-12). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ciarrochi, J.V., Chan, A.Y.C., & Caputi, P. (2000). A critical evaluation of the emotional intelligence construct. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 539-561.

Davies, M., Stankov, L., & Roberts, R.D. (1998). Emotional intelligence: In search of an elusive construct. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(4), 989-1015.

Dearborn, K. (2002). Studies in emotional intelligence redefine our approach to leadership development. Public Personnel Management, 31(4) 523-530.

Douglas, C., Frink, D.D., & Ferris, G.R. (2004). Emotional intelligence as a moderator of the relationship between conscientious and performance. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 10(3), 2-13

Druskat, V.U., & Wolff, S.B. (2001). Building the emotional intelligence of groups. Harvard Business Review, 79(3), 80-90.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D. (1998a). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D. (1998b). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 76(6), 93-102.

Goleman, D. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Harvard Business Review (2003). The 2003 HBR breakthrough ideas for tomorrow’s list. Harvard Business Review, 81(4), 92-98.

Hawkins, J., & Dulewicz, V. (2007). The relationship between performance as a leader and emotional intelligence, intellectual and managerial competences. Journal of General Management, 33(2), 57-78.

Hedlund, J. & Sternberg, R.J. (2000). Too many intelligences? Integrating social, emotional, and practical intelligence. In Bar-on, R., & Parker, J.D.A. (Eds.), The handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 136-167). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Jordan, P.J., & Troth, A.C. (2004). Managing emotions during team problem solving: Emotional intelligence and conflict resolution. Human Performance, 17(2), 195-218.

Kelley, R., & Caplan, J. (1993). How Bell Labs creates star performers. Harvard Business Review, 71(4), 128-139.

Kramer, M.W., & Hess, J.A. (2002). Communication rules for the display of emotions in organizational settings. Management Communication Quarterly, 16, 66-80.

Lopes, P.N., Grewal, D., Kadis, J., Gall, M., & Salovey, P. (2006). Evidence that emotional intelligence is related to job performance and affect and attitudes at work. Psicothema, 18, 132-138.

Mayer, J.D., & Cobb, C.D. (2000). Educational policy on emotional intelligence: Does it make sense? Educational Psychology Review, 12(2), 163-183.

Mayer, J.D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators (pp. 3-31). New York: Basic Books.

McClelland, D.C. (1999). Identifying competences with behavioral-event interviews. Psychological Science, 9(5), 331-339.

Noland, D.S. (2008). Emotional intelligence and the new product development team leader success in the lighting industry. Ann Arbor, MI; ProQuest, LLC.

Pearman, R.R. (2002). Introduction to type and emotional intelligence. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Rosete, D. & Ciarrochi, J. (2005). Emotional intelligence and its relationship to workplace performance outcomes of leadership effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 26(5/6), 388-399.

Ruderman, M.N., Hannum, K., Leslie, J.B., & Steed, J.L. (2001). Making the connection leadership skills and emotional intelligence. LIA, 21(5), 3-7.

Saarni, C. (2000). Emotional competence: A developmental perspective. In Bar-on, R., & Parker, J.D.A. (Eds.), The handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 68-91). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J.D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.

Sardo, S. (2002). Learning to display emotional intelligence. Business Strategy Review, 15(1), 14-17.

Williams, H.W. (2008). Characteristics that distinguish outstanding urban principals: Emotional intelligence, social intelligence and environmental adaptation. Journal of Management Development, 27(1), 36-54.

Zeidner, M., Roberts, R.D., & Matthews, G. (2008). The science of emotional intelligence: Current consensus and controversies. European Psychologist, 13(1), 64-78.

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