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Daniel Goleman : Emotional Intelligence.

Daniel Goleman is usually credited with challenging the traditional view of IQ (intelligence quotient) by drawing together research on how the brain works and developing this to promote and popularise the concept of emotional intelligence (EI, sometimes referred to as EQ) in a highly accessible form.

In Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998), Goleman defined emotional intelligence as a capacity for recognising our own and others' feelings, for motivating ourselves, and for managing our emotions, both within ourselves and in our relationships.

Life and background

Goleman, born in 1946, gained his PhD in psychology from Harvard, where he also taught. His best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters more than IQ, was published in 1995 and in 1998 this was followed by Working With Emotional Intelligence. Goleman has frequently written for the New York Times on behavioural science, and currently acts as the chief executive of Emotional Intelligence Services in Sudbury, Massachusetts, which is affiliated with the Hay Group, and offers courses in training and assessment for emotional intelligence. Goleman is also co-chairman of the Rutgers University-based Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman's interest in EI arose from a realisation that a high IQ is not necessarily a prerequisite for having a successful life. In Emotional Intelligence he identifies many people who, while brilliant academically, were nevertheless failures socially or in corporate life. Conversely, he identifies others who were not well qualified or distinguished in academic terms, but were still highly successful in terms of their lives and business achievements. Goleman went on to relate business acumen to emotional intelligence. In the later Working With Emotional Intelligence he identified 25 EI competencies, or surface behaviours, and discussed how high emotional intelligence can make all the difference between success and failure.

Key theories

Emotional intelligence and the brain

In Emotional Intelligence, Goleman describes how the evolution of the brain has implications for our emotions and behavioural responses. He outlines how, during its evolution over millions of years, the brain has now come to comprise three main areas:

* the brain stem is situated at the base of the brain and at the top of the spinal cord. It controls bodily functions and instinctive survival responses, and is the most primitive part of the brain

* the hippocampus evolved after the brainstem and is situated just above the latter. It includes the amygdala region, the importance of which was identified by Joseph LeDoux during the 1980s. Here, the brain stores emotional, survival-linked responses to visual and other inputs. The amygdala seems able to `hijack' the brain in some circumstances, taking over people's reactions literally before they have had time to think, and provoking an immediate response to a situation. Mammals or human beings who have had their amygdala removed show no signs of emotional feeling at all. The amygdala can catalyse the sort of impulsive actions that may sometimes overpower rational thought and the capacity for considered reactions.

* the neo-cortex is the large, well-developed, top region of the brain which comprises the centre for our thinking, memory and reasoning functions.

Because of this course of evolution, our emotions and thinking intelligence - the two main functions of the brain regulating our behaviour - are situated in separate areas. Furthermore, our emotional centres receive `input' before our thinking centres, and can react very quickly and very strongly in some situations. The results of this for human behaviour can be catastrophic in that, unless we are aware of the situation and practised in controlling our initial feelings, we may allow inappropriate emotional responses to pre-empt behaviour based on consideration of more appropriate options. Our emotions have a `wisdom' of their own that we should learn to use more, particularly in terms of the intuitive sense they offer. Yet, when people first confront stimuli that prompt, for example, extreme fear, anger, or frustration, their first impulse to active response comes from the amygdala. Unless intelligent control is exerted, the brain moves into survival mode, stimulating instinctive actions that, while possibly right for the situation, are not rationally considered, and may be very wrong.

Today, we usually have no need to fight or run away from dangers of the sort faced by prehistoric people. While some instinctive reactions may be wise in given circumstances, we need to be aware of how the primitive response in the brain's emotional centre precedes all rational evaluation and response. Emotional intelligence is largely about understanding this and making use of our EI, while also controlling our responses to take account of it.

Goleman's framework of emotional intelligence

Goleman developed a framework to explain emotional intelligence in terms of five elements he described as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Each of these elements has distinctive characteristics, as outlined below:

1) Self-awareness: examining how your emotions affect your performance; using your values to guide decision-making; self-assessment - looking at your strengths and weaknesses and learning from your experiences; and being self-confident and certain about your capabilities, values and goals.

2) Self-regulation: controlling your temper; controlling your stress by being more positive and action-centred; retaining composure and the ability to think clearly under pressure; handling impulses well; and nurturing trustworthiness and self-restraint.

3) Motivation: enjoying challenge and stimulation; seeking out achievement; commitment; ability to take the initiative; optimism; and being guided by personal preferences in choosing goals.

4) Empathy: the ability to see other people's points of view; behaving openly and honestly; avoiding the tendency to stereotype others; and being culturally aware.

5) Social skills: the use of influencing skills such as persuasion; good communication with others, including employees; listening skills; negotiation; co-operation; dispute resolution; ability to inspire and lead others; capacity to initiate and manage change; and ability to deal with others' emotions - particularly group emotions.

Goleman claims that people who demonstrate these characteristics are more likely to be successful in senior management, citing research from various sources that suggests senior managers with a higher emotional intelligence rating perform better than those without. He gives several anecdotal case studies to illustrate ways in which emotional intelligence can make a real impact in the workplace.

The Emotional Competence Inventory

Goleman believes that emotional intelligence can be developed over a period of time and he developed an Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI), in association with the Hay Group, to use in assessing and developing EQ competencies at work. The ECI reduces the original five components of emotional intelligence to four:

1. Self-awareness

* being aware of your emotions and their significance

* having a realistic knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses

* having self-confidence in yourself and your capacities.

2. Self-management

* controlling your emotions

* being honest and trustworthy

* being flexible and dedicated.

3. Social competence

* being empathic, being able to perceive another's thoughts and points of view

* being aware of and sensing a group's dynamics and inter-relationships

* focusing on others' needs, particularly when they are customers.

4. Social skills

* helping others to develop themselves

* effective leadership

* influencing skills

* excellent interpersonal communication skills

* change management skills

* ability to resolve arguments and discord

* ability to nourish and build good relationships

* team-player skills.

Leadership Styles

Goleman, in association with Hay/McBer, has more recently been involved in researching leadership styles, as he reported in a 2000 Harvard Business Review article. On the basis of findings with 3781 executive participants the research suggests that leaders gain the best results by using a combination of six leadership styles, each of which has a central characteristic feature and uses different components of emotional intelligence:

* Coercive leaders - demand instant obedience. Coercive leaders are self-motivated, initiate change and are driven to succeed.

* Authoritative leaders - energise people towards a goal. Authoritative leaders initiate change and are empathic.

* Affiliative leaders - build relationships. Affiliative leaders are empathic and have good communication skills.

* Democratic leaders - actively encourage team involvement in decision-making. Democratic leaders are good at communication, listening and negotiation.

* Pacesetting leaders - set high standards of performance. Pacesetting leaders use their initiative, and are self-motivated and driven to succeed.

* Coaching leaders - expand and develop people's skills. Coaching leaders have the abilities to listen well, communicate effectively and motivate others.

The research evidence suggests that the six leadership styles identified are each appropriate for different types of situations, and also that leadership styles have a direct influence on the working atmosphere of an organisation which, in turn, influences financial results.

In Perspective

The conviction that success depends to a high degree on interpersonal skills is not new, and Goleman has often been criticised for taking others' ideas, to some extent, and repackaging them as a new concept. Goleman himself, however, freely discusses the origins of his ideas, and acknowledges fellow academics when he uses their work.

A critical article by Charles Woodruffe in 2001 reviewed Goleman's version of EI, and suggested that:

* Goleman contradicts himself in claiming that emotional intelligence is inherent and biologically based, yet is a skill that can be learned and developed

* the self-report measures of emotional intelligence used by Goleman have considerable limitations, particularly in terms of accuracy

* the EI behaviours or competencies put forward by Goleman, such as self-confidence and leadership, are not at all new, and are factors that have often been recognised as commonly associated with high achievement levels.

Whatever truth there might be in these criticisms, Goleman has certainly promoted management thinking on the subject of EI. He has taken some quite complex ideas relating to human behaviour and biological evolution, and put these into a more simple and comprehensible format that, under the label of `emotional intelligence', is easy to understand. As a result, many people have found his core proposition, that we can use intelligence to better manage our emotions and draw on our emotional intuition to guide our thinking, to be a helpful approach in both their lives and their work.

Key works


Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ London: Bloomsbury, 1995

Working with Emotional Intelligence London: Bloomsbury, 1998

Journal article Leadership that gets results Harvard Business Review, vol. 78 no 2, Mar/Apr 2000, pp78-90

Further reading

Promotional intelligence, by Charles Woodruffe People Management, vol. 7, no. 1, 2000, pp26-29

Dec 2001
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Date:Dec 1, 2001
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