Emotional Intelligence (EI) was a hot topic in the 1990s when Dr. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence made leaders aware of its crucial importance in successfully managing teams. Since then, many researchers have written about the topic which has enhanced leaders’ understanding of it. EI has become a leadership essential and is no longer seen to be a “nice-to-have”. But what is Emotional Intelligence?

EI is the ability to recognise and understand our own and as well as others’ emotions in a manner that guides thinking and action. Emotions are vital components to our human existence because they send information explaining how we feel about a specific situation or person. They are our own internal feedback loop. Suppressing or ignoring emotions means we are denying ourselves valuable data provided to us by our body and mind. Ongoing suppression reduces our well-being and happiness level.

For leaders to be aware of their EI and to effectively use it in a work environment will lead to success. Some of the key benefits resulting from developing EI are:

  • Predictor of occupation and relationship success
  • Improved social connections and integration
  • Better problem-solving behaviours
  • Reduces destructive negative behaviour such as anything in excess
  • Minimises conflict
  • Stimulates team harmony
  • Enhanced team contribution and participation

EI differs from other intelligences in that it is not a genetic trait inherited or born with. Thankfully it is a skill that can be learned and developed.

However, like anything in life, balance is of importance. New research evidence shows that over-developed EI means that people have learned to manipulate people’s behaviours or actions which may border on narcissistic behaviour. When we have become a master of controlling our emotions to such a high attuned level, we will be able to disguise true emotions. In the same manner, we will understand others’ emotions extremely well and most probably better than they themselves do. We can use this understanding to our selfish advantage and their disadvantage. We will end up manipulating other people’s emotional state to such a degree that they will act against their own best interest. This has a narcissistic taste to it!

There is a very thin line between developing our EI for the better management of our own emotions and building successful teams or overstepping a human ethical line of emotional manipulation. EI can be used for the greater or the lesser good. Keep that in mind when developing your Emotional Intelligence variable.

Share your work experience on EI with us.