Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On? (When Daniel Goleman and Richa
Esther is a well-liked manager of a small team. Kind and respectful, she is sensitive to the needs of others. She is a problem solver; she tends to see setbacks as opportunities. She’s always engaged and is a source of calm to her colleagues.
Her manager feels lucky to have such an easy direct report to work with and often compliments Esther on her high levels of emotional intelligence, or EI. And Esther indeed counts EI as one of her strengths; she’s grateful for at least one thing she doesn’t have to work on as part of her leadership development.
It’s strange, though — even with her positive outlook, Esther is starting to feel stuck in her career. She just hasn’t been able to demonstrate the kind of performance her company is looking for. So much for emotional intelligence, she’s starting to think.
The trap that has ensnared Esther and her manager is a common one:
They are defining emotional intelligence much too narrowly. Because they’re focusing only on Esther’s sociability, sensitivity, and likability, they’re missing critical elements of emotional intelligence that could make her a stronger, more effective leader.
A recent HBR article highlights the skills that a kind, positive manager like Esther might lack: the ability to deliver difficult feedback to employees, the courage to ruffle feathers and drive change, the creativity to think outside the box.
But these gaps aren’t a result of Esther’s emotional intelligence; they’re simply evidence that her EI skills are uneven.
In the model of EI and leadership excellence that we have developed over 30 years of studying the strengths of outstanding leaders, we’ve found that having a well-balanced array of specific EI capabilities actually prepares a leader for exactly these kinds of tough challenges.
There are many models of emotional intelligence, each with its own set of abilities; they are often lumped together as “EQ” in the popular vernacular.
We prefer “EI,” which we define as comprising four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Nested within each domain are twelve EI competencies, learned and learnable capabilities that allow outstanding performance at work or as a leader (see the image below).
These include areas in which Esther is clear