Leadership & “Emotional Intelligence”

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence” (Daniel Goleman, 1995). This blog post is my critique of the 25th anniverary edition of the personal development book. Each of my critiques review the key message of the book, the high-level concepts, the book’s areas of strengths, and where it falls short. I conclude each critique with an overall assessment ranking (1-10 ascending) of its effectiveness in providing the reader applicable lessons in personal and/or leadership development.

Overview: We have two minds – a thinking one (IQ) and a feeling one (EQ). IQ accounts for only about 20% of success in life, with the remaining 80% being made up of other factors, emotional intelligence included. IQ is fixed whereas EQ can be learned and changes over time. There is nothing wrong with feeling our emotions, issues arise when we don’t express them effectively.

High-level concepts: Emotional Intelligence contains the skills of knowing your emotions, managing them, motivating yourself, empathizing with others and managing relationships. He explains emotional hijacking and its ability to grip us so that we lose our rational mind.

Key Message: Goleman quotes an Aristotle statement that I believe encapsulates the book’s main point. “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.” 

Areas of Strengths: I appreciate that Goleman attempts to provide boundaries on primary vs. secondary emotions in Appendix A. He follows Ekman’s research on universal facial expressions (anger, sadness, fear and enjoyment). Trauma and relearning is a critical concept as we all have gone through some trauma at varying levels of severity over the course of our lives.

Supplemental Information: Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Ecological Intelligence

Where it Falls Short: I don’t like the structure of the book. It seems to be formed around his thoughts, versus formed around a holistic structure/framework. For example, his windows of opportunity part four, goes into family dynamics, but what about the other social influences? Isn’t that a big part of emotional regulation and understanding? And why is emotional hijacking at the beginning of the book – before he educates us on the history, definitions and development of emotions? Finally, I would argue that surprise is also a universal facial expression, and therefore primary emotion, whereas love is a component of enjoyment.

Overall Assessment & Why: I rate it a 7 out of 10. It somewhat ties to Steven Coveys private victories before public victories concepts, but his notion of empathy should be more explained. I do like the Master Aptitude chapter and power of positive thinking. I also find it fascinating that 3 of 5 of what I consider to be universal emotional facial expressions are negative.