JANUARY 30, 2003


Imagine you’ve been asked to interview for a premier executive opportunity. What is going to differentiate you from the other equally qualified candidates? Your ability to demonstrate emotional competence.

Daniel Goleman’s book Working with Emotional Intelligence, defines Emotional Intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” Employers want to see evidence of emotional competence in five key areas:

For executives in Goleman’s research, close to 90% of their leadership success was attributable to emotional intelligence.

In contrast, unsuccessful executives consistently demonstrated two traits: rigidity and poor relationships. They were unable to adapt their style to changes in organizational culture or listen and respond to feedback on how they needed to change or improve. Poor relationships were mentioned most often: being too harshly critical, insensitive, or demanding to the extent of alienating colleagues and coworkers. Such failures could not save those executives who had high IQs and strong technical expertise. The lack of emotional competence held them back.

Although Emotional Intelligence is difficult to measure, there are ways to show you’ve got the traits employers want:



Emotional Intelligence Factors

Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence made public the secrets successful executives have long known: emotion and the ability to relate to others are what differentiate star performers. These are the five competencies Goleman highlights:

Self-awareness: Knowing what we are feeling in the moment, and using those preferences to guide our decision making; having a realistic assessment of our own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.

Self-regulation: Handling our emotions so that they facilitate rather than interfere with the task at hand; being conscientious and delaying gratification to pursue goals; recovering well from emotional distress.

Motivation: Using our deepest preferences to move and guide us toward our goals, to help us take initiative and strive to improve, and to persevere in the face of setbacks and frustrations.

Empathy: Sensing what people are feeling, being able to take their perspective, and cultivating rapport and attunement with a broad diversity of people.

Social skills: Handling emotions in relationships well and accurately reading social situations and networks; interacting smoothly; using these skills to persuade and lead, negotiate and settle disputes, for cooperation and teamwork.      Source: Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, 1998, page 318.