Building Emotional Intelligence

“How can people improve their emotional intelligence competencies?”

That’s a question I’m often asked, most recently by Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics, and now a professor at Harvard Business School. Bill co-authored True North, one of the best books I’ve seen on leadership. Bill’s question was pointed: he uses my articles and books on emotional intelligence and leadership in his class. These make the case for why leaders need these human skills. But when it comes to how people can strengthen them, Bill has been frustrated by the lack of materials that would help his students.

There are many views of how to enhance emotional intelligence abilities; the Consortium on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations lists the best practices, based on a survey of research studies. A workbook, due out in 2008 from Harvard Business School Press, puts these into practice; it’s written by my colleagues Annie McKee of the consulting firm Teleos, Richard Boyatzis who teaches in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and Frances Johnston, who works with Annie. Reuven Bar-On is lead editor on an excellent survey of approaches, Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent.

But the method I find most intriguing is undergoing a trial these days at Google University. A few months ago I gave a lecture at the Googleplex arguing that IQ alone was not enough to identify the people who would be star performers and leaders. Especially at Google, where a high IQ seems a universal requirement for employment (and thus a threshold competence, one everyone has to have just to keep their job), you’d expect other dimensions like emotional intelligence competencies to be distinguishing abilities, those that set stars apart from average.

In my Google talk I reviewed the key neural circuits for the fundamentals of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-mastery, and empathy – which facilitate our effectiveness in interactions and relationships. And I described new research suggesting that mind training methods like mindfulness enhance the brain’s circuitry for these same fundamentals.

Now Google U. is offering a course on emotional intelligence that uses mindfulness training to enhance EI. The course’s teachers are Mirabhai Bush, director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and Norman Fisher of the Everyday Zen Foundation. This contemplative approach to enhancing EI should make sense to Bill George. A model of emotionally intelligent leadership while he was CEO at Medtronics, he’s been a meditator for years.

23 thoughts on “Building Emotional Intelligence

  1. Hi Daniel,

    Love your blog and I wish more authors would use this media to communicate.

    As a Buddhist monk, I’m obviously happy to here Google is introducing meditation.

    On to my question…
    If one of the key aspects to improving EI is self-awareness and given that meditation is also a key factor, it seems to me that understanding your own mind from a functional point of view is also important. This is what you mean by self-awareness, right? Ones ability to understand thoughts and emotions.

    The tradition of Buddhism that the Dalai Lama belongs to has a subject called Lo-Rik (Minds and mental factors) that presents the major psychological aspects of the mind in terms of how they function.

    I’d be interested to know what you think about this and if you have read any literature on this subject.


  2. hi daniel , thanks for lovely blogs u have here, i realy love to read your book, emotional intelligence, thats the great book i ve ever read. im a general doctor from Indonesia, hope you know where is from,” Bali “. there is a question i realy need you to unswer, this is make me confuse, can you give me your opinion about what the different and similarity beetwen EQ dan Spiritual Intelligence, i realy apreciated if you can reply my question , i know you realy busy, and hope God bless You always . thanksssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  3. Hi Daniel, Recently I read your book “Emotional intelligence” and change my vision of see the thinks.

    For me it is an honor to write in life a person to pass as part of history.


    And forgive my poor English

  4. Dear Dr.Goleman,
    I read your article on What Makes A Leader? and I agree very much with what you are saying. I feel strongly that our education system worldwide,is mainly focused in developing academic ability of children and the emotional development of children is not given the attention that it deserves. Any additional information that you can give me on developing emotional intelligence in students will be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you,and have a great day 🙂

  5. Dr. Goleman,

    I recently read your book “Emotional Intelligence” and I’m very interested in pursuing as much information as I can on this topic. My wife and I have three school age children at home (6,8 and 13) and we’d like to know what kinds of things we might do in order to help build and improve their EQ.

    Are there any specific suggestions or ideas that you have? Are there any board games or scenarios that we could role play at home?

    Thank you.

  6. Dear Mr. Goleman:
    I am a graduate student in organizational leadership who was given the pleasure of presenting your theory on emotional intelligence. I read your books “E.I., Social Intelligence, and Primal Leadership” along with several peer journals and other articles. I must tell you that I was delighted to have found something that was so natural and meaningful to me and have it be introduced to the masses as a necessary part of the work and life. Everything that you speak of regarding E.I. speaks truly to the heart of individuals being better leaders. If you are not self-aware and emotionally attuned to the people you work with and the environment you work in, you can not (in my opinion) be an effective leader. I also spoke about being “Wired to Connect”.

    I wanted to also share how impressed I was by the work of your current life and your expressions relative to your family. Please continue to bombard this planet with your E.Q. and continue to write the kind of books that I take pride in using in my daily work life and personal life. It is not always easy to stay on track, but I don’t have a problem getting back on the E.Q. bike and pedaling my way to effective and genuine leadership. Being emotionally intelligent means being genuine to me. Again, thank you and please continue to blow us away and enlighten us!

    Please know that I presented a model relative to EQ and I was fortunate enough to receive rave reviews for my presentation. I even used your picture in my ppt. Please share with me any future plans you have relative to books on the topic of EQ, etc. I look foward to hearing from you soon.

  7. Dear Mr. Goleman,

    I am trying to help the chronically ill to maximize their functioning capacity. As people with disabling chronic illness must learn to live life more effectively and efficiently, one can see that those with a higher EIQ cope better. However, many are unable to attend a course or workshop.

    Do you have any additional suggestions for books or on-line courses that this group of people might turn to? Or is their only option therapy?

    Karen in upstate NY

  8. Dear Dr. Goldman,
    What a gift you have given to the world in uncovering the tools of emotional intelligence. I am a professional development trainer and have found EQ to be the foundation to real change in the workplace.

    My continued challenge is in helping senior leadership to embrace the word “emotional”! I often have them direct me to work with the women, not realizing that EQ is an essentail element for everyone. I often begin by asking how effectively crisis are handled by everyone or how long it takes to resolve conflict because of overheated attitudes. These are fasinating discussions.

    I am not a psychologist, but I do hold a Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and Conflict Management and both practice and passionaltly promote your work. I find the tools of emotional intelligence (and clearly social intell) is at the foundation of any success. How well do we stop, actively listen, and respond thoughtfully? It all begins with sel-awareness.

    Thank you for your work…I would love to hear you speak about your work!

    Sheri A. Callahan
    Horizon Consulting Group, LLC

  9. I am working on a research p roject for an AP Psych class, and have chosen EI as my topic. I would like to administer a questionnaire to my fellow students. Do you have a good one you recommend?

  10. Daniel,

    Thank you very much for this website. I am currently formally studying to become an EQ Coach and Trainer. I enjoy your website. It’s very intuitive and user friendly.

    Thank you for your generosity.

    Kind Regards,

    Wendy M.

  11. Could you please elaborate more about brain? whether left and right brain has its own fuction as sperry had explained? is it true lefy brain called thinking brain and right brain is the emotional brain???? please explain to me, i’m confusing…..tq

  12. Dear Dani

    i have read your book on “Emotional Intelligence” and many articles and researches on emotional intelligence, you did a wonderful job, and it is really a gift for those who even don’t understand themselves. i am working on a research paper related to emotional intelligenec and leadership development. i need your help, could you please send me questionnaire which you have developed on emotional intelligence, so that i can use for my research.

    Thank you,and have a great day

  13. hello. dr. goleman, i am 53 yrs old . after a gap of 30 yrs i did my masters in psychology. then m.phil. currently working on my these E.I. RELATED STUDY, comparative study of EI between nursing staffand hotel industry staff. while surfing the net bumpted in this site . just wonderful . i feel priveleged to communicate to u this way . what was considered as spiritual mystical you just simplified it so beautifully so that even alay person can understand and try to achieve this EI. i personally have benefited to a large extent thru ur book . thanking you sir, ms . suresh

  14. Dr. Goleman,
    I’ve identified certain personal and social skills that I’d like to improve upon before I accept a new job. I am not affiliated with an organization-sponsored EI program, and as you point out, the readily available 2-day trainings have dubious value. What other options are there for me, and other self-improvers, to work on re-creating behavioral habits?
    Thank you,

  15. Dear Dr. Daniel Goleman,

    Would you, please, inform me about universities that interrelate EI with Leadership studies at a PhD level? I am asking because I am preparing to study on leadership to teach at one of the graduate schools in Ethiopia, of course, if I got the scholarship. Your information would be a great contribution both for the graduate school in general and for me in particular. Rest assured that this will impact the Ethiopian society and beyond.

  16. Dear Dr. Goleman,
    Good Day! I’m a faculty in a nursing school in the Philippines and currently having my thesis writing about emotional intelligence in nursing leadership. I would like to ask permission if I can use your competency framework as instrument and if you have articles related to my topic that I can used I would really apreciate it. As I read some of your writings I become more interested to finish what I have started. Thank you.

  17. Dear Dr. Goleman,
    Good Day! I’m a faculty in a nursing school in the Philippines and currently having my thesis writing about emotional intelligence in nursing leadership. I would like to ask permission if I can use your competency framework as instrument and if you have articles related to my topic that I can used I would really apreciate it. Thank you.

  18. Dear Dr Golman
    i’ve been interested in your topic since i translated your book in 1998 and use it with my students at school and the results were fantastic. i think we can change our world into a better one if we help people to use emotional inteeligence in their life.i work as a trainer now and i’d like to be certified in teaching emotional intelligence. could you please tell me the way to do this? looking forward to your reply

  19. Dear Dr. Goleman
    I’m a Business Adminitration licenciate and had a Master in Marketing from The Dominican Republic, Would you, please, inform me about universities that interrelate EI with Leadership studies at a specilist. I am asking because I am teaching leadership for Secretaries and recepcionist in spanish. I’m appasioned with my dession of my new carrear. Your information would be a great contribution both for the society in general and for me in particular.

  20. Dear Dr Goleman

    I am fascinated by the topic of Emotional Intelligence in Nursing. I dont believe that it is being read about, understood and applied into the profession effectively in my hospital. I would like to do a presentation to nurses and Doctors on this topic” Emotional Intelligence, a partnership for Nursing Excellence”.

    Please help with ideas to approach this topic to make the most impact.

  21. Hello Dr.,
    I m a student of education and want to study on the aspects of social intelligence of medical college students even very good knowledge you have shared here but still i have not found any concept about the social intelligence of Medical College Students, if you have any related information, Can you guide me?
    Anupama Singhal

  22. I am an undergraduate of the University of Ghana. I read your masterpiece on Emotional Intelligence in the Harvard Bussiness Review and I would want you to assit me. My MPHIL research area is on Emotional Intelligence and Maximum productivity. Your direction on my proposal will be very much appreciated. I am a Ghanian and I would want to replicate your research in Ghana.

  23. soy estudiante de la carrera de ingenieria en administracion de empresas en chile y estoy tratando de hacer mi tesis y me a interesado mucho el tema de la inteligencia emocional e inteligencia social , y me encantaria que me respondiera cual es la brecha entre estos dos libros que le motivo para hacer el segundo libro , y cual seria su motivacion o en resumen, que se podria lograr en las empresas hoy en dia, siempre pensando en los dos libros .
    Muchas gracias por su tiempo y esperando con ansias su respuesta

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