Wait! Who knew Emotional Intelligence was really invented 2,000 years ago?


Let’s start with this.

I’m going to presume you’ve heard of emotional intelligence (commonly noted as EQ or EI). But I won’t assume your awareness equates to a robust understanding of the theory and practice thereof.

Am I right?

How many people do you know who are always “cool as a cucumber,” who never seem to lose it even in difficult or awkward social situations? Filled with grace and kindness, people like to be around them because they put everyone at ease.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage emotions because you’re aware of them and you understand their importance. Psychologists and leaders often agree that your EQ may be equally important as your IQ — maybe, more so.

Emotional Intelligence, as a psychological theory, was developed by Peter Salovey and John Mayer. They define EI as, “…the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

Later and more famously, Daniel Goleman put emotional intelligence on the bestseller list authoring several books on the subject. He posits that your abilities in five key areas, or skills, are linked to decision-making (leading with your heart and your head), building and maintaining relationships (empathy leads you to truly care for others) and overall success in life. By one estimate, 90% of successful business leaders utilize EQ.

Goleman’s 5 Core Capacities:

· Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize and appreciate your own emotions. This also implies that you are aware of the effect your emotions, actions and moods have on others. This person is also self-aware enough to recognize personal strengths and weaknesses and thus, be open to lifelong learning; and especially, is emotionally healthy enough to learn from others. Goleman suggests that leaders with this capacity have a good sense of humor, are self-confident and aware how others perceive them.

· Self-Regulation is a necessary skill for the emotionally intelligent leader. If you are aware of your emotions and the effects they have on others, you must also then be able to regulate and manage those emotions. This isn’t about putting on a happy face when you’re not, nor is it about hiding true emotions. But much more about understanding the right time and circumstances to express emotions appropriately. Call this one, conscientiousness.

· Social Skills are about your interactions with others. Leaders certainly benefit from building strong relationships with colleagues and employees. Their workers equally benefit from being able to create a rapport with the boss and their co-workers. Social skills include: active and authentic listening, strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills and persuasiveness.

· Empathy is one of the hallmarks of the emotionally intelligent leader. Your ability to understand how another is feeling and regulate your responses accordingly indicates high EQ. How do you react when you sense a colleague is sad or feeling hopeless? Do you treat them differently based on how you see them expressing emotions? The important skill here is correctly interpreting the emotional signals given by others and then reacting in appropriate ways.

· Intrinsic Motivation is the capacity to be personally motivated beyond the obvious external motivations like fame, money, recognition or promotion. It’s all about passion to fulfill an inner sense of calling and goals. The high EQ leader is action-focused, always looking to challenge the process and finding newer and better ways to achieve success. This person fits the old label of “self-starter.”

Let’s pause for a moment so you can check your own EQ.

Here. Take a quick quiz to assess your emotional intelligence. Now look, we all know the “correct” answers to these questions, but since it’s just you and God (watching), be honest and you’ll gain a summary glimpse into your own emotional quotient.

How’d you do?

OK, now to the 2,000 year-old prescriptions that long preceded Daniel Goleman, et.al.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatian Christians, listed nine “fruit” or evidences that God’s Holy Spirit lived in believers: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. As necessary as this list was then, today — more than ever — we need to evidence these “fruit.”

Let’s pair these with Goleman’s five capacities and hopefully describe today’s True North leader’s SEQ (Spirit-led Emotional Intelligence — I just made that up, BTW).

· Self-Awareness calls for internal inspection (2 Corinthians 13:5). So does the Psalmist, and the author of this proverb, “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord examines the heart.” An inventory of how well we employ the fruit of the Spirit is an essential component of the healthy SEQ leader.

· Self-Regulation or as the Bible often reframes this one, “self-control.” We also regulate our emotions by evincing patience and goodness.

· Social Skills are another way to employ these Spirit fruit: love, joy, goodness and faithfulness (which leads a leader to be trustworthy).

· Empathy in the life of Jesus is described as compassion. From St. Paul’s list we can add: love, kindness, goodness and gentleness. The SEQ leader scores high on each of these measurements.

· Intrinsic Motivation is the True North leader’s heart desire come to life. What drives you to action? We can presume love for others, a deep abiding and authentic joy of life and of course, the peace of God. But for me, there is no stronger source of inner motivation than the assurance that God has everything under His control and plan. Jeremiah may have said it best, “…I know the plans I have for you…” And as an added bonus, we have assurance that “…my God will supply every need of yours…” (Philippians 4:19).

Hope this has been informative. Now here are a few final thoughts to help each of us grow as emotionally intelligent leaders.

How to improve Self-Awareness

· Give someone in your life permission to offer constructive feedback. Receive it, analyze it and implement the suggestions accordingly. Remember, Jesus promised that the meek (those lacking in pride) will inherit the earth.

How to improve Self-Regulation

· Most often, the only control we have in challenging or difficult situations is our own responses. Focus on cognitive reframing (changing your thought patterns and emotional responses).

How to improve Social Skills

· Can’t emphasize enough the power of active listening. Quiet your self-talk; instead, focus on the other person, what they mean by what they’re saying, and what that message means to them. Be attentive and work for understanding.

How to improve Empathy

· This one begins in the heart. If you truly find yourself low on loving concern for others, ask for a new “shower” of Godly love. Ask Him to allow you see others as He does; to love others as He does.

How to improve Motivation

· This begs the question: what is in your heart that gets you up in the morning to serve others? Sometimes our own internal motives can benefit from external encouragements. Find a trusted friend with whom you can safely share your thoughts and concerns and allow God’s Holy Spirit to speak to you through another. Rather than link you to one verse, I encourage you to spend time in the entirety of Proverbs 27.

At the risk of over hyperlinking in this blog, I hope you’ll find time to read through this again and actually follow the links to their sources. You may be amazed that millennia ago, the Bible prescribed what is so trendy today. My psychologist wife has often noted that in her field there is nothing truly new. God created our brains, will and emotions and knew all along how to prescribe our flourishing.

Just read The Book.

Norm Mintle