Emotional Intelligence

A Primer or a Refresher? 

I have not always been a “reader”. Most of my reading over the years has been to my children and grandchildren. It is only in the last several years that I acquired any taste for books. And my tastes in reading material vary widely. But several years ago, I had a book suggested to me by a fellow leadership coach. He recommended the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. Immediately I started using this book with many of my leadership coaching clients and I think it is worthy to provide a primer to the uninitiated or a refresher with the broader Leadership Voices audience.

The book has a foreword by Patrick Lencioni. Many of you will recognize him as the author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting. If you are into great titles, those are a couple of great ones. As Lencioni proclaims in the foreword, he’s no expert in this field, but he sees everyday how critical a skill it is to have and he’s so enthusiastic about this book because it’s the first he’s read that actually shows you how to increase your EQ and apply it in your personal and professional life.

The opening chapter deals with Emotional Intelligence (EI) and your Emotional Quotient (EQ) and compares and contrasts it with the more well-known IQ. The chapter describes what EQ is and what it isn’t. For example, a lot of people mistakenly think that EQ is a part of your personality. To the contrary, EQ is separate from your personality, just as it is separate from your intellect, or IQ. It begins to build your understanding of emotions by showing what the five core emotions look like in varying degrees of intensity. Next, the team of Bradberry and Greaves explain research studies that illustrate how important EQ is in daily living. They show how your EQ impacts things like your tolerance for change, how you manage stress, and even how much money you make.

What Emotional Intelligence Looks Like: Understanding the Four Skills

The book introduces and explains Daniel Goleman’s four EQ skills: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Beyond a conceptual description of the skills, the book provides detailed vignettes showing examples of real people who are high or low in each of the skills.

To truly improve your ability in the four emotional intelligence skills, you need to better understand each skill and what it looks like in action.

Self-Awareness — This is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations of both pleasure and pain. Self-awareness includes staying on top of your typical reactions to specific events, challenges, and people. A keen understanding of your tendencies is important; it helps you quickly make sense of your emotions. A high degree of self-awareness requires a willingness to tolerate the discomfort of focusing on feelings that may be negative.

Self-awareness is not about discovering deep, dark secrets or unconscious motivations, but, rather, it comes from developing a straightforward and honest understanding of what makes you tick. And you need to understand this first. People high in self-awareness are remarkably clear in their understanding of what they do well, what motivates and satisfies them, and which people and situations push their buttons.

The need for self-awareness has never been greater. Guided by the mistaken notion that psychology deals exclusively with pathology, we assume that the only time to learn about ourselves is in the crucible of crisis. The more we understand both the beauty and the blemishes, the better we are able to become better leaders.

Self-Management — Self-management is what happens when you act — or do not act. It is dependent on your self-awareness and is the second major part of personal competence. It is your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior positively. This means managing your emotional interactions with situations and with people.

Some emotions create a paralyzing fear that makes your thinking so cloudy that the best course of action is nowhere to be found. Some emotions are so euphoric that you don’t even care about tomorrow for the joy of the moment. In these cases, self-management is revealed by your ability to tolerate the uncertainty as you explore your emotions and options. Once you understand and build comfort with what you are feeling, the best course of action will show itself.

Social Awareness — Listening and observing are the most important elements of social awareness. To listen well and observe what’s going on around us, we have to stop doing many things we like to do. We have to stop talking, stop the monolog that may be running through our mind, stop anticipating the point the other person is about to make, and stop thinking ahead to what we are going to say next. As mom used to say, there is a difference between just hearing me and listening to me. She was right and she had some innate insight into some of these concepts.

It takes practice to really observe people as you interact with them and get a good sense of what they are thinking and what they are feeling. To be socially aware, you have to spot and understand people’s emotions while you’re right there in the middle of it — not in retrospect. You must be a contributing, yet astutely aware, member of the interaction as it occurs.

Relationship Management — Relationship management is your ability to use your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully. It is also the bond you build with others over time. People who manage relationships well are able to see the benefit of connecting with many different people, even those they are not fond of. Not in a manipulative or self-serving way. But rather in a compassionate, empathetic and mutually beneficial way.

Solid relationships are something that should be sought and cherished. They are the result of how you understand people, how you treat them, and the history you share together.

Not Only the What but the Why and How

The book goes on to outline a 6 step action plan that the reader will follow to increase their emotional intelligence levels once they have completed the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal that comes with the book. The book includes a special code and access to an on-line appraisal tool to measure your EQ today and then again in several months after you have read the book and begun to master some of the skills.

I won’t cover all of the many skills and mechanisms that Bradberry and Greaves provide to accompany each of the four skills. You will need to get the book for that. But with the results of the Appraisal and the application of the skills and mechanisms that are targeted at each of the four skills you will be able to significantly grow and enrich your EQ. And with the ability to have access to a second appraisal, later on, you will be able to truly measure your personal growth. And you will probably be able to sense the results of greater success in managing yourself and reap the benefits of improved social relationships.

Recommended Reading

I highly recommend this book for multiple audiences. The book is an obvious fit for those in leadership roles who want to be better skilled at the day to day interaction with those they lead. But I believe in my heart that this book should be required by every pastor who provides pre-marital counseling to couples seeking to wed. And I think it should be read by every couple who go on to decide to have children. The skills and abilities in the book translate equally to familial relationships. In fact, I think that may be where the greatest value exists. For it is from a base of strength, support, and success in the home that you go out into the world to lead and achieve great things. It should be read by every sales professional. It should be read by every supervisor or manager. And it should be read by YOU!

What are your thoughts? Have you read the book?

Recommended Actions

You can get a copy via Amazon for as little as $14.99 if you are an Amazon Prime member. It is also available in a Kindle version. If you need to order it, feel free to use our Resources page here at Leadership Voices and we will receive a small commission on every book that you order through our website.

You can also reach out to Leadership Voices, LLC for some personal one-on-one coaching. I can work with you to build your leadership skills and achieve your goals. My email address is Kevin@LeadershipVoices.com We can meet for a free and no obligation discovery session and see if we have what you are looking for in a leadership coach.

Go ahead, order the book and reach out to Kevin for a one-on-one initial consultation.


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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.