EI, EI, … Oh – Knowing Your Self and Others


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Bob Bennett
Author - Leadership Is...(Dot, Dot, Dot); Leadership Coach; Strategic Counsel; Organization Effectiveness; CLO FedEx Express (retired); Keynote Speaker
Bob Bennett


Founder, Achieve-LLC ex CLO FedEx Express
Where does heart fit in politics & business? #heart, #business, #politics https://t.co/5Uc5XClYdl by @Bob_Achieve on @LinkedIn - 2 years ago
Bob Bennett
Bob Bennett
Bob Bennett

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Knowing Your Self and Others

“Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell so that he looks forward to the trip.”  This old Irish saying indicates that the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) was probably recognized centuries ago, before they fully understood or even named it.

EI, in its simplest form, is knowing your self and knowing others.  It is not, as the saying suggests, manipulating people to your way of thinking, disguising your true feelings, or in any way being self -serving.  These actions and behaviors, which will be quickly uncovered, are detrimental to any relationship and will undermine true leadership.

EI has been defined by many scholars, Human resources professionals and subject matter experts.  These definitions all seem to be in general agreement with the one proposed by Daniel Goleman, an American Psychologist, which suggested there are five basic components of EI.  Knowing these five elements, which are highlighted below, is helpful.  It is, however, what you do with this knowledge that demonstrates a clear understanding of Emotional Intelligence and allows its successful application, thus facilitating leadership:

  • Self-awareness goes beyond just recognizing one’s own moods and emotions. It includes understanding their effects on others.  To heighten self-awareness, leaders:
    • Clearly define their strengths and vulnerabilities, and constantly take time, proactively as well as after the fact, to review their (pending or completed) actions to evaluate the impact on the desired results.
    • Remain highly confident in their ability to provide solutions, resolve issues and constantly improve.
    • Laugh at themselves when appropriate. Everyone makes mistakes; learning from them is far more important than ‘wallowing in pity or guilt.’  A little self -deprecating humor helps when communicating this to others.
  • Self-regulation does not mean ceasing all negative moods, but rather focuses on the ability to control impulses. Leaders that self-regulate:
    • Think before they act. This may be facilitated by yoga, counting to ten, or any of a number of ways to separate your self from the immediate emotional surge.
    • Have well defined values. Know and do not be willing to compromise on those things you hold dear to who you are and what you believe in.
    • Hold themselves accountable. When they do something wrong, they admit it, apologize and correct it as best they can as quickly as they can.
  • Motivation refers to creating a passion for greatness and/or success within one’s self. To self-motivate, effective leaders:
    • Remain optimistic no matter the obstacles. Having a positive attitude is catching and will inspire those around you.
    • Maintain a clear vision and constantly strive to attain it. A goal creates a reason to go on and a feeling of accomplishment and worth when reached.
    • Learn and apply that knowledge continuously. Having a voracious thirst for knowledge and applying it, even for small improvements, reinforces positive behaviors and commitment.
  • Empathy is understanding the emotional make-up of others and treating people according to their emotions and needs. To enhance their empathy, leaders:
    • Listen intently to what others say as well as what they are not saying. They pay full attention to the individual, evaluate body language, ask meaningful questions and display an interest in learning rather than providing solutions.
    • Consider and take the view of others in discussions and especially before making decisions. They recognize that there is always more than one way to look at and resolve a problem.
    • Involve others and use their strengths to achieve the stated goal. No one wants to fail; everyone wants to contribute.  Leaders give them an opportunity to participate in the success.
  • Social skill refers to the ability to find a common ground and build rapport. To manage relationships and increase their ability to persuade for the greater good, leaders:
    • Build and utilize networks of diverse individuals. Using a vast array of knowledge to understand and resolve issues will provide better solutions while increasing the knowledge and value of each member and the team as a whole.
    • Establish a sense a teamwork through shared goals, compromise and mutual trust and reliance. It is difficult to disappoint peers and teammates.
    • Reward and recognize, monetarily as well as with intangible measures. Those who feel valued will work harder for the common good.

Oh, and if you are still not a believer, you only need to understand that human nature is complex and personal.  Predicting what people, much less one individual, will do, if not impossible, is imprecise at best.  The more Emotional Intelligence one has, the greater the chance to provide meaningful leadership.