What the heck is Emotional Intelligence anyway, and why should I care?

I get asked the above question more often than you might think.  More surprisingly, I hear it from people who work in training and personal development.   They may have a vague notion what it is, but they think it is some wishy washy, hippy dippy therapy.   They couldn’t be more wrong as I have great delight in explaining to them.   Emotional Intelligence is one of the most practical ways to improve leadership skills, motivate staff, increase your self-awareness and so much more.

So, what is it?

Emotional Intelligence is, and I quote:

‘the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.’  Salovey and Mayer 1990.

Just one definition of many that are out there.  For me though it is so much more than that.  It is how you use the self awareness of how your behaviours and emotions are affecting others, and visa-versa to improve your working life.


The term Emotional Intelligence was used by Michael Beldoch (cannot find any information on the man anywhere) in a paper entitled ‘Sensitivity to Emotional Expression in Three Modes of Communicating,’ as far back as 1964.  However, EI really caught the public imagination with the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book on the subject in the 1990s.

There are as many definitions as there are contradictions, and I’m sure it must be a party favourite topic of debate among educational psychologists.  However, what is important is not to quibble over the various methods, but to use EI to deliver results for individuals, managers and leaders.


Ever since reading Daniel Goleman’s book on the subject and learning about EI during my coaching diploma, I have been fascinated by the topic.   The reason?  I had worked with so many managers/leaders who were so completely lacking in EI and wholly unaware of the effect they were having on others.   Here was the answer right here!  I had found it!

Alas, as with all innovative forward-thinking concepts, there are the sceptics and the naysayers.  I didn’t care.  I knew it was beneficial to those in the workplace, and I set out to show it.

Over the years I have read more books about the subject than I care to tell you, and I have both attended and delivered workshops.  Recently I came across a company who have catapulted my learning and understanding of the Business uses of EI to a whole new level.

The company is called EBW (Emotions and Behaviours at Work) and I am delighted to say that I have partnered up with them in order to be able to deliver their EQ psychometric assessments and coaching programmes.

The EBW model focuses on eight emotional behavioural clusters.   It studies the emotions and underlying behaviour traits that predict success in leaders, teams and organisations.    In short, it is a comprehensive system to ensure individuals, be they managers, leaders or employees have a model to understand their behaviours and emotions, but more importantly, how those behaviours affect other people and visa-versa, AND crucially what to do with that information.

I’m delighted to have discovered EBW.   If you would like more information on how their EI psychometric tests and coaching models can help you or your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact me at jmcgrath@equilibria-coaching.com    In the meantime, I hope you will consider your own self-awareness.  How are you impacting others today?