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Success in the Workplace
with Kristi Tackett-Newburg, Ph.D., LIMHP, CPC

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Part 1: The Secret Behind Strong Leaders

“Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.”
~ Dean Koontz, Best Selling Author  

If you are in the business world, you have likely
heard the term “Emotional Intelligence” during leadership trainings or in articles on how to be an effective leader.

But what exactly does this concept mean? 

Emotional Intelligence (or EI) was first introduced into mainstream psychology in the 1990’s by psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer.  Emotional Intelligence refers to a person’s ability to accurately perceive emotions, comprehend information related to those emotions, and an ability to effectively manage them.

Daniel Goleman, widely known for his best-selling books on emotional intelligence, further expanded this theory by identifying numerous components of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-motivation, empathy, and emotional management.  More recently, emotional intelligence has received greater attention, especially for its role in workplace success.

Goleman’s research has demonstrated that emotional intelligence goes a long way in shaping strong business leaders.  He suggests that emotionally intelligent people understand and use emotions in positive ways to guide their thinking and actions.  This leads to better communication, an approved ability to manage stress, greater empathy, and an enhanced ability to overcome challenges or obstacles.

But emotional intelligence isn’t just for senior leaders or executives!  This important skill is a necessary component for workplace success at any level in your career.  For example, many Fortune 500 companies strongly value emotional intelligence and look to recruit employees that demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence during the intitial interview process.

The Four Main Components of Emotional Intelligence: 

  1. Self-Awareness – The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they impact thoughts and behaviors.  This includes an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and knowing what motivates you to succeed.
  2. Social Awareness – The ability to understand other people’s emotions, beliefs, or needs.  This includes knowing how to pick up on emotional cues, recognizing different dynamics within an organization, and adapting to various social situations.
  3. Self-Management – The ability to effectively manage your emotions in healthy and adaptive ways.  This includes being able to take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.  Self-management also means being able to control impulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and make good decisions.
  4. Relationship Management – The ability to develop and maintain good relationships.  This includes knowing how to communicate clearly, work well within a team setting, effectively manage conflict, and inspire and influence others.

You may be wondering if it is possible to boost your own level of emotional intelligence?  Good news!   Research shows that with practice you CAN improve your own emotional intelligence.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article with tips on how to increase your emotional intelligence and earn the respect of your coworkers!

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Part 1: The Secret Behind Strong Leaders

Kristi Tackett-Newburg, Ph.D., LIMHP, CPC

Kristi Tackett-Newburg is a business psychologist, licensed psychotherapist, and the CEO/President of Counseling Connections & Associates located in Omaha, Nebraska.  Kristi's research interests include emotional intelligence, talent management and employee engagement. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook or on Twitter @ktackettnewburg

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APA Reference
Tackett-Newburg, K. (2017). Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Part 1: The Secret Behind Strong Leaders. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Feb 2017
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