From trade journals to the blogosphere to leading publications and websites, everyone is discussing Emotional Intelligence – what it is and why it’s so important. Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you. People skills are no longer merely “soft skills,” but recognized as being essential to be successful in the workplace.

These skills help people become better employees, and in turn, better leaders. At People Centric Consulting Group, we recognize that highly motivated, engaged employees make for a more successful company. Employees with high EQ certainly fit that mold, and managers with high EQ will be able to better develop a strong employee base.

So what is Emotional Intelligence? According to Daniel Goleman, the leading author and psychologist who helped popularize EQ, there are five main elements to Emotional Intelligence1:

  1. Self-awareness: This refers to how well a person understands his or her own strengths, shortcomings, as well as how their actions affect others.
  2. Self-regulation: Emotions are an important part of being human. However, people with high EQ are able to manage their emotions by expressing them with proper control
  3. Motivation: Highly motivated people exhibit traits that make them great workers – resiliency, optimism, and ambition.
  4. Empathy: A person with a healthy level of empathy can connect to others around them on an emotional level and respond genuinely to others’ concerns.
  5. People Skills: People with high EQ, build rapport and trust with others quickly. They make great teammates and are enjoyable to be around. The respect others and earn respect in return.

How can one increase their EQ? A great way to start is to become self-aware of one’s own strengths and make an intentional effort to increase self-awareness. There are many personality assessments available, often for little or no cost. A couple good ones I recommend are StrengthsFinder 2.0 ( and Meyers-Briggs based assessments like Next, create an Individual Development Plan focused on improving in the five areas of EQ above. There are many resources available for developing emotional intelligence, but like any acquired skill, it usually takes intentional effort and practice.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York, New York: Bantam Books.