Raising the EQ Bar: Improving Your Emotional Intelligence


“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 

                                                                                                     Albert Camus



Have you recently given any thought to improving your emotional intelligence? Have you considered how it might be able to make you a better leader? Daniel Goleman has been the established thought leader in emotional intelligence for many years, beginning with his first book on the topic in 1995.[1]

Goleman’s theory is that emotional intelligence (known as both EI and EQ… I prefer the term EQ since it corresponds with IQ… both being a “quotient”) is developed through growth in five areas:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

I plan to write in more detail about each of these characteristics in future postings, but if you haven’t put EQ development into your list of “to do” leadership tasks, now is the time.  Research indicates the most successful leaders have a high EQ; in fact, Goleman suggests it may be more important than IQ in many respects. An improvement in EQ can mean a benefit for your whole team.

improving your emotional intelligenceSo, how do you go about improving your emotional intelligence?  I recommend starting with an assessment of your current EQ.  There are a whole range of assessments out there, including some that are costly and complex.  That said, I’d suggest doing a little research, and a good place to start is https://www.mindtools.com.[2]

Next, develop your EQ action plan (EQAP).  Here are the key components of a successful EQAP that I’ve discovered from working with and observing other leaders using it:

  1. Establish a Timeline. Using the reverse planning sequence (where you start with the end in mind), set goals for your growth in each of Goleman’s five characteristics for twelve months from now, six months from now, and three months from now.
  2. Find an Accountability Buddy (AB). Usually, the best person is a peer or near peer who can observe your actions but is not directly in your evaluation chain. You need someone who is going to give honest feedback.
  3. Establish a Regular Meeting Process with your AB. During each meeting, provide each other with specific observations in each of the five EQ areas.  For example, one of the indicators of self awareness is “a self – deprecating sense of humor”.  How well are you demonstrating this quality?  Where are there other opportunities to improve this skill?
  4. Conduct Periodic Assessments. Whatever assessment tool you use, make sure you check your progress at certain stages of your EQ action plan.  I’d suggest six-month intervals for these assessments.

These four steps can put you on the path towards improving your emotional intelligence. Put your EQ action plan to work… and enjoy the journey!



[1] My favorite Goleman books are Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995) and Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Leadership (2001).

[2] There is a survey/quiz on that web site if you choose to use it; or contact me if you’d like to discuss other options.

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