MT Masterclass - Emotional Intelligence

What is it? Oh, don't bother me now, stupid. Can't you see I'm busy... Sorry, slight lapse there. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a label to sum up the range of interpersonal skills and responses that form our public persona. It is often contrasted with existing notions of intelligence - not IQ, but EQ. Emotionally intelligent people show empathy and tact, are self-aware and in control of their feelings. They are the deft operators in our pressurised modern world, rising to the top while making as few enemies as possible.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Where did it come from? In 1995, the US psychologist Daniel Goleman published his ground-breaking work on EI, a book that, 10 years later, is still winning converts. In a chapter entitled 'Managing with Heart', Goleman argued for a more considered, empathetic style of management.

'Too many managers have poorly mastered the crucial art of feedback,' he wrote. 'Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work towards a common goal.' The book coincided with the emergence of the 'new economy', where approachability and openness were in and hierarchy was out (as were, sadly, profits).

Where's it going? More sombre times brought a backlash against the EI cult. Where gurus had once urged leaders to display their faults and frailties, today the talk is of 'execution' and playing hardball. There are other concerns. Business psychologist Chris Smewing, from consultants Water for Fish, says: 'People can feel threatened by having their EI explored, while there is also the danger of mislabelling people.' Yet EI still has its fans. A recent Harvard Business Review article claimed that emotional engagement among staff was four times more powerful than rational engagement. Lyndon Johnson had other ideas: 'Get 'em by the balls. The hearts and minds will follow.'

Fad quotient (out of 10) Five and falling... sob.

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