How Top Performers Use 5 Key Pillars of Emotional Intelligence to Unlock Hidden Strengths

In his article Emotional Intelligence (EI), Harvard Professor Daniel Goleman has reported on the successful utilization of EI concepts in social and emotional learning (SEL) among athletes and corporate executives.  The application of emotional intelligence training can be used to help develop vital leadership behaviors for both managers and executives.


EI includes five key skills as discussed in the article What Makes a Leader. Here we articulate ways excellent leadership may pursue actions in these skill areas. 


Self-awareness—knowing one's strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others

  • Internalize and consistently communicate outwardly values that make sense for the organization.
  • Surround yourself not with sycophants, but with skilled, open-minded people, who will help you to maintain a balanced perspective.
  • Identify your weaknesses and develop compensating methods.
  • Develop decision-making skills that balance using “good enough” information in a timely fashion.

Self-regulation—controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods

  • Recognize your emotions.
  • Think before you act. Develop strategic thinking to anticipate cascaded impacts of your speech and actions.
  • Determine how to drive positive actions from negative situations.
  • Develop a process to deal with any negative emotions internally rather than venting in an uncontrolled way.

Motivation—relishing achievement for its own sake

  • Learn visionary goal-setting, with goals aligned with values.
  • Be inspirational and optimistic.
  • Be a positive and ethical role model.
  • Challenge yourself, individuals, and teams to achieve stretch goals, and provide support.
  • Build resiliency and wellness in yourself and your team. 

Empathy—understanding other people's emotional makeup

  • Spend time among people in the organization.
  • Recognize that people come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and may think and act differently from your expectations.
  • Listen with genuine concern. 

Social skill—building rapport with others to move them in desired directions

  • Listen and relate. Listen first. Leverage the elements of shared thinking to move forward.
  • Listen not just for “yes, sir” but for true agreement and remaining misgivings.
  • Develop the confidence to say, “I don’t know,” “I was wrong,” “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you,” to show humanity and mend fences when needed. 

Seven elements to include in leadership training using Emotional Intelligence


Training for leadership using EI includes multiple elements to overcome resistance to change and provide new skillsets.


  1. Address skepticism. Emotional intelligence may be seen by some as a “touchy-feely” concept that doesn’t have value in a fact-based business world. Provide data and examples, such as these business cases, showing the positive correlation between high leadership EI skills and business and personal success.
  2. Encourage vulnerability. Many people in or aspiring to leadership roles are assertive drivers and don’t want to show vulnerability.  Help participants to identify and label their emotions so that they can properly funnel their energies.
  3. Assess and address. Use self-assessment, 360-degree feedback, personality and skills testing to identify individual strengths and weaknesses for each leadership trainee. Customize a training program for individual gap closure.
  4. Model processes and solutions. Utilize role playing to deal with typical leadership situations. Focus not so much on the results, but on the process, that can develop EI skills.
  5. Teach communication skills. Help leaders to understand their own and others’ communication styles so that they adjust for differences and interact more effectively.
  6. Recognize that change is difficult. Vince Lombardi once said: “Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” Incorporate change management training into the overall program. Be prepared to work hard.
  7. Incorporate the five EI skills. Develop training modules that focus on these interpersonal skills rather than technical skills.

By using an emotional intelligence approach in leadership training programs, you can help managers develop their greater potential as true leaders.


Would you like to develop a world class leadership training using element of emotional intelligence for your organization? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or e-mail Fran Bishop at





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