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Goleman and emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ introduced a whole new perspective on predicting and analysing employee performance. The author, one of the world’s leading EQ academics, suggested that there is far more to being successful than high levels of cognitive intelligence. Goleman suggested ‘emotional intelligence’, a term developed by Salovey and Mayer (1989), is twice as important as cognitive intelligence for predicting career success and there was currently far too much emphasis on traditional predictors of employee performance. He suggested high levels of emotional intelligence improve working relationships, help to develop problem-solving skills, increase efficiency and effectiveness and catalyse the development of new strategies. Rather than influencing exam scores or report writing, emotional intelligence influences how we control our own emotions and deal with relationships. Goleman defines it as “the ability to identify, assess and control one’s own emotions, the emotion of others and that of groups.”


Goleman developed a performance-based model of EQ to assess employee levels of emotional intelligence, as well as to identify areas of improvement. The model consists of five components, stated below.

1. Self-awareness

Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence our comfortable with their own thoughts and emotions and understand how they impact on others. Understanding and accepting the way you feel is often the first step to overcoming it. 


2. Self-regulation

It is also important to be able to control and manage your impulses and emotions. Acting rashly or without caution can lead to mistakes being made and can often damage relationships with clients or colleagues.


3. Internal Motivation

Being driven by only money or material rewards is not a beneficial characteristic, according to Goleman. A passion for what you do is far better for your emotional intelligence. This leads to sustained motivation, clear decision making and a better understating of the organisation’s aims.


4. Empathy

Not only must you understand your own emotions, but understanding and reacting to the emotions of others is also important. Identifying a certain mood or emotion from a colleague or client and reacting to it can go a long way in developing your relationship.


5. Social Skill 

Social skills are more than just being friendly. Goleman describes them as “friendliness with a purpose”, meaning everyone is treated politely and with respect, yet healthy relationships are then also used for personal and organisational benefit. 


Goleman argues that individuals that adopt these characteristics give themselves a far greater chance of being successful than individuals that do not. However, individuals are not simply born with these skills and they can be learned. They also work in synergy with each other and therefore developing each one of them has exponential returns. The author has also emphasised that cognitive and emotional intelligence are not opposing attitudes, but simply different disciplines that should be developed. He is certainly not suggesting cognitive intelligence is irrelevant, but that interest should be shifted to focus on them both equally. 

In 2000 Goleman developed this model further, focusing on four key categories and various sub-categories within them. These categories are self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management. 


Goleman, Daniel. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995. Print.

Goleman, Daniel. (1998). What Makes a Leader? Harvard Business Review, 1998. Print.

Goleman, Daniel. (2000). Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. Print.

Salovey, Peter, Marc A Brackett, and John D Mayer. (2004). Emotional Intelligence. Port Chester, N.Y.: Dude Pub., 2004. Print.