Emotional Intelligence: practical solutions for everyday situations

When you need your working relationships to deliver performance, EI provides practical tools

Emotional Intelligence: practical solutions for everyday situations

EI - practical solutions for everyday situations

When you are managing relationships or managing teams, emotional intelligence is a powerful people management tool

Developing team performance for more agile, innovative organisations

What is Emotional Intelligence?

If you ask this question, the answer most of us give is “empathy”. That’s a good answer, but it isn’t all of the answer. In fact, when you look into the EI Development tool I prefer, you see it has 5 segments and 15 separate measures. So empathy is part of the answer, but actually, there is a lot more going on. Maybe the first and most important thing we can think of when we talk about Emotional Intelligence is, it all starts with YOU first. How high is your self-regard and your self-awareness?  If both are low, then behaving with ‘emotional intelligence’ is a struggle for you. You can’t give to others, what you don’t have yourself.

Emotional Intelligence means you need both a high regard for, and a high awareness of, other people. It is vital that first you understand and then you are understood. Understanding others and being understood is possibly the most important aspect of any relationship.

“Emotional Intelligence first appeared in the concept of Thorndike’s “social intelligence” in 1920 and later from the psychologist Howard Gardner who, in 1983, recommended the theory of multiple intelligence, arguing that intelligence includes eight forms. American psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, who together introduced the concept in 1990, define emotional intelligence “as the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.  People who have developed their emotional intelligence have the ability to use their emotions to direct thoughts and behavior and to understand their own feelings and others’ feelings accurately. Daniel Goleman, an American writer, psychologist, and science journalist, disclosed the EI concept in his book named “Emotional Intelligence”. He extended the concept to include general social competence. Goleman suggested that EI is indispensable for the success of one’s life.

Daniel Goleman (1998) defines Emotional Intelligence/Quotient as the ability to recognize our own feelings and those of others, to motivate ourselves, and to handle our emotions well to have the best for ourselves and for our relationships.”

From A New Layered Model on Emotional Intelligence

Athanasios S. Drigas and Chara Papoutsi. 

Published online 2018

Does Emotional Intelligence matter?

The short answer is “yes”. EI is a very practical concept with specific competences. Managers spend time thinking about how to improve team performance and EI is a good tool for this. For example, when you are aware of how you behave, you can actively work on things which will put you more in control. This could be stress management, or impulse control for example.

Having that level of control improves your relationship management and means you can work with individual team members to help them change their behaviour. Every team has some issues. If you, the manager, can help the team work on these then the whole team performance changes and improves. It gives everyone some tools to feel in control of their environment, manage their stress, work well with their colleagues.

Relationship management is dynamic; improving feedback on performance for yourself and your team members feeds into that dynamic.

How is EI different to other assessments?

If you do an IQ test or a personality test, then your result is static. With EI you can take an assessment, look at the areas where you are strong, the areas which can be developed and then go to work. It’s encouraging being able to see visible improvement in the areas you develop. Not only is it good for you, it’s good for the people around you.

When you develop your emotional intelligence, you develop much more control. Instead of simply reacting to a situation or something which is said to you, you are now able to choose how to respond. This means you reduce your stress and don’t waste time wishing you had done things differently. It also gives you the chance to change the way certain relationships work. You are more aware of yourself and you are also more aware of others. Changing the way you behave also changes other people’s behaviour

Can you give me an example of EI in action?

Sure. This is an actual example from a client I worked with.

A new manager was asked to take over a team when the old manager left. The team had severe problems. There was a lot of sickness absence and a hostile environment in the team. The team was not performing, no one wanted to join the team and it had a bad reputation. I was asked to work with the new manager to reduce sick leave.

We used the EI model and 360 assessments and focused on the whole team and how it behaved. It became clear that the previous manager had not addressed problems and just allowed them to build up.

People in the team were behaving badly to each other and the relationships were deteriorating.

Over a period of time the manager worked on herself first, supported by an EI self-assessment. Additionally she addressed the way the team behaved. By developing her assertiveness and a constructive direct feedback culture, she triggered behaviour change in the team. Additionally specific rules were discussed and agreed.

It took time but the team became much more tolerant of each other, friction reduced and 6 months later the team was a much better place to work, with an improved reputation.

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.

Daniel Goleman

Team alignment

… emotional-social intelligence is an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies and skills that determine how effectively individuals understand and express themselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures.

E.I. also provides a useful bridge into team alignment which can be critical when you’re managing a project.

Typically, when working with engineers you have many technical experts, specialists in their own area. Yet these people are not always expert in people skills. The project kick off may be fine, but later on there can be team issues which have to be dealt with. It’s almost always about alignment.

If you do the alignment at the beginning, you can stop problems happening later on.

EI gives you a perfect framework to do this: establishing clarity and  a set of rules around “best behaviour” as well as the answer to WHWNH? (What Happens When Nothing Happens…?) If team members ignore those rules a feedback loop is vital to anchor the best behaviour in the culture.


It can be useful to do some work with a team  by asking questions like:

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • What is the actual mission of this team? What does everyone have to do each day to ensure the overall team goal is achieved?
  • What Happens When Nothing Happens…?
  • What does success - the vision - actually look like?
  • What are the roles & responsibilities – in detail?
  • What are the observable behaviour and communication rules?

When you do these things at the start, it means you have a framework in place to refer to and everyone knows they are going in the same direction. When you have skilled, intelligent people working in your team or on the project, being emotionally intelligent is one of the most cost effective ways of getting the work done well.

Thomas Orths loves to work with clients to help improve the company culture. “I know what it’s like to work in a place where people do not work together as a team. It isn’t enjoyable for the person and it is ineffective for the company.”  His passion is helping teams to be the best they can be. Thomas is certified for EQi-2.0 and uses this as part of his toolbox of assessments.  Thomas works in German and English facilitating, training, coaching and mentoring, online and in person.

If you would like to discuss increasing performance, improving relationships and achieving team alignment, please get in touch. We will be happy to help. 


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