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Emotional Intelligence


Intelligence is a set of cognitive abilities which allow us to acquire knowledge, to learn and to solve problems.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to assess 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 (Mayer and Salovey, 1997).

According to Goleman (1998), “emotional intelligence” refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions, well in ourselves and in our relationships.

In simple words, emotional intelligence refers to attributes such as understanding one’s feeling, empathy for others, and the regulation of emotions to enhance one’s life.

Background of Emotional Intelligence

Aristotle wrote about emotional intelligence in 350 BC, centuries before the term became popular. Although the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ was first coined by two colleagues from Yale University, Peter Salovey and John Mayer, Daniel Coleman is responsible for the current popularity of the subject with his groundbreaking bestseller in 1995, ‘Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ’ (IQ here means Intelligence Quotient).

Why Emotional Intelligence?

EQ can lead one to healthy relationships and to have the ability to respond to the challenges of one’s life and career in a positive manner.

Emotional Intelligence- Heart and Head Combined

It is important to understand that Emotional Intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of head over heart – it is the unique intersection of both. Think about the definition of emotion, intelligence, and especially, of the three parts of our mind – affect/emotion, cognition/thinking, volition/motivation. Emotional Intelligence combines affect with cognition and emotion with intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, then, is the ability to use your emotions to help you solve problems and live a more effective life. Emotional intelligence without intelligence, or intelligence without emotional intelligence, is only part of a solution. It is the head working with the heart.

Mayer & Salovey (Ability Model)

In the words of Mayer and Salovey, Emotional Intelligence is 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.

We can see that there are four different areas as perceived by Mayer and Salovey in above definition-

  • Perceiving Emotions- In order to property understand the emotions, it is, first, necessary to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding non-verbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
  • Reasoning with Emotions- Reasoning with emotions involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
  • Understanding Emotions- The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he’s been fighting with his wife.
  • Managing Emotions- The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.

Domains of El as Given by Daniel Goleman

Goleman gave five domains that delineate the parameters of emotional intelligence:

  • Being self aware- The ability to recognize a feeling as it is happening is fundamental to EI. If we are unable to notice our emotions, we can be overwhelmed and also flounder at the mercy of these strong feelings.
  • Managing emotions- This rests upon self-awareness; once aware, we need to handle our emotions. The goal is to ‘balance’ the emotions, i.e., neither emotional suppression nor emotional excess. It is a continuous exercise and those who can handle emotions can face life’s upsets better and far more quickly than those who do not.
  • Having self-motivation- Underlying the accomplishment of any sort of goal is the ability to marshal our emotions in pursuit of that end. For creative tasks, focus and mastery (learning to delay gratification and stifle inappropriate desires) are important skills, and emotional control is essential.
  • Recognizing the emotions of others- ‘People’ skills are based on a capacity for empathy and the ability to stay tuned to the emotions of others. Empathy kindles altruism and lies at the basis of professions that deal with caring for others, such as teaching, management, and the healing arts.
  • Handling relationship- Interpersonal effectiveness is dependent on our ability to manage the emotions of others. Brilliant projects and innovative insights are often never realized because of a lack of social competence and leadership skill.

Attributes of an Emotionally Intelligent Administrator

An emotionally intelligent administrator will possess the ability to-

  • Handle conflicts constructively
  • De-personalize from the angers of others
  • Deal with uncertainty and change
  • Identify and abide by core values and beliefs that shape the choices you make
  • Understand and empathize with positions different from others
  • To enroll people into his/ her vision
  • Manage difficult/ unreasonable persons in all situations

Relevance of Emotional Intelligence in the Current Environment of Civil Services

Civil services today work in an environment that is beset with numerous problems, challenges, and even contradictions such as-

  • Fast changing social structure and values.


  • Increasing regional, economic and digital divide, rising population and unemployment.
  • Inadequacy of basic necessities like housing and drinking water and infrastructure and so on.
  • Increased awareness of the masses as well as existence of significant number of voiceless and marginalized poor.
  • Widespread application of information technology which has helped the government on one hand, but has also put pressure on the government to “appear to be performing and in control of things”.
  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments have led to decentralization of decision making and created a new class of politicians over the civil services.
  • There is an all pervasive demand for improved governance. A paradigm shift has occurred in the idea of governance, of what governments should do and also how they should govern. On one hand, governments are expected to move out of many areas, and on the other hand they are expected to perform multiple roles.
  • There is, however, a consensus that government should perform better, be more responsive and transparent, and enhance scope for participation of people and civil society.
  • Issues get politicized easily and quickly.
  • There is an all pervasive and increased cynicism and contempt of politics and administration.
  • Inner dissent and conflicts over policies, programmes and implementation thereof are more open and sharper.
  • There is an increased tendency on part of the people to resort to agitation and aggression. The common man is no longer satisfied easily. Even a small instance can provoke people to indulge in harmful and destructive activities. Increase in the number of frustrated and disgruntled people has only added fuel to the fire.
  • The administration itself is beset with many problems- political pressures, rampant corruption, obsolete and outdated methods, procedures and laws, lack of avenues for growth, over- centralizaiton, self aggrandizement and so on.

Thus the work environment of the civil services is much more complex, demanding and even hostile at times. And given its present state, it is in no position to handle and tackle the problems in the old ways. Even the well intending civil servants cannot do much because all their energies are exhausted in sheer survival. Herein lies the role of Emotional Intelligence. The emotionally intelligent civil services can achieve a lot if they are professionally competent and positive in their approach.

How can Emotional Intelligence Help Civil Services?

Emotional Intelligence (El) can help in three ways at the workplace-

  • To achieve amicable work environment
  • Improvement in the behavior and performance of individual workers
  • Improvement in organizational performance

Numerous organizations in public and private sectors have used El and reported positive results. To name a few- US Air Force, US Navy, Johnson and Johnson, Motorola and so on. In India, HPCL has used El to create an environment that fosters emotionally intelligent leadership. As an initial measure it has trained frontline leaders and provided them with opportunities to put El into practice.

Specifically, the awareness and the application of EI helps in the following manner-

  • Greater interpersonal skills (crucial for good citizen centric administration)
  • Increased capacity to handle-
  • Changes in work
  • Pressures and stress
  • Conflicts
  • Ability to see the long term effects of one’s actions/ attitudes
  • Increased levels of commitment, trustworthiness and conscientiousness
  • Being able to see things in a holistic manner
  • Being able to bounce back from setbacks and maintain optimism
  • Finding healthy ways to handle negative/ extreme feelings
  • Having greater motivation- achievement drive, initiative, persistence, motivating others as well
  • Better ability to communicate
  • Enhanced group dynamics in terms of cooperation, collaboration and building bonds
  • Enhanced leadership traits, including the knowledge about when and how to lead, when to follow
  • Ability to use win-win model for negotiations
  • Ability to appreciate diversity and value for others
  • Ability to perform multiple tasks due to better time and information management
  • Greater focus
  • Aware of but minimally concerned with and affected by office politics
  • Not prone to aggression
  • Ability to be a change catalyst

Emotional Quotient

Emotional quotient (EQ), also called emotional intelligence quotient, is a measurement of a person’s ability to monitor his or her emotions, to cope with pressures and demands, and to control his or her thoughts and actions. The ability to assess and affect situations and relationships with other people also plays a role in emotional intelligence. This measurement is intended to be a tool that is similar to intelligence quotient (IQ), which is a measurement of a person’s intellect.

El and EQ in the Work Place

The workplace is about people and relationships, and an employee with a high EQ as opposed to only a high IQ should be seen as a valuable asset. Coleman made strong claims about the contribution of emotional intelligence to individual success, and specifically to success in the workplace. He identified intellectual intelligence as contributing 20 per cent towards life success and intimated that the remaining 80 per cent may be attributable to emotional intelligence.

Examples of using Emotional Quotient (EQ) at work place include the following-

  • Recruitment- EQ measurement is invaluable in selecting and recruiting desirable and high-performance workers.
  • Predicting Performance– Some organisations are blending IQ testing with scientific measurernent of EQ to predict job performance and direct workers to jobs where they are most likely to succeed.
  • Negotiation- Whether you’re dealing with a trading partner, competitor, customer or colleague, being able to empathize and be creative in finding win-win solutions will consistently pay off.
  • Performance Management- 360-degree feedback is a common tool for assessing EQ. Knowing how your self-perception compares with others, views about your performance provides focus for career development and positive behavioural changes.
  • Peer relationships- Good networking skills are a staple of job effectiveness for the average worker. Networking has too often been associated with “using” other people, but a heighted EQ ensures a mutually beneficial approach to others.

Emotional Intelligence and Work Attitude

There are certain important behavioral attitudes, behavior and outcomes that are essential for evaluating whether one can be viewed as an effective manager and leader. Emotional Intelligence is related with following work attitude and work behaviours-

  • Job satisfaction- Individuals with high emotional intelligence experience continuous positive moods and feelings that generate higher levels of satisfaction and well-being.
  • Organizational commitment-Emotionally intelligent individuals are “optimistic”, a trait that enables them to focus on the resolution, rather than the reasoning (who is at fault). Thus, Emotional Intelligence is expected to augment a higher level of commitment to the organizations.
  • Work-family conflict- A high emotional intelligence would help the managers balance family interference with work. In fact, they may be more capable of preventing work-family conflict from the beginning because they have emotional insight as to how these emotions should be managed, and the ability to improve the decision-making process.
  • Job performance- There is a positive effect of emotional intelligence on the success of the individual at work. Through various studies, it has been showed how the aspects of emotional intelligence – appraisal and expression of emotions, use of emotion to enhance cognitive processing and decision making, knowledge about emotions and management of emotions – contribute to effective leadership.

Emotional Intelligence and Effective Leadership

Increasingly, it is noted that basic management and leadership skills are no longer enough to successfully lead organizations. Emotional intelligence is recognised as having an important role to play in management and leadership positions where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. Consequently, emotional intelligence is becoming a sought after quality. Some authors on emotional intelligence are of the view that emotional competencies are twice as likely to contribute to organizational success and excellence than pure intellect and/or technical expertise alone. Accordingly, being aware of our emotions and how to manage them in ways that are appropriate and effective is an important skill for leadership, the organization, the team and the individual.

The Future of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies

As bureaucratic processes moved more and more away from the historical concepts of dehumanization and impersonality, the notion that emotional skills are essential to job performance and customer service has gained foothold in the public administration sector. Based on the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, emotional intelligence has become key to the internal organization of public agencies (e.g. leadership, co-worker collaboration) and for the external exchange with citizen customers (e.g. as a basis for relational work/emotional labor). Despite some deficiencies (e.g. difficulties in assessment and costs), emotional intelligence skills will continue to be important for bureaucratic processes since social skills in general are expected to decline due to the increased dependency on technological forms of communication.




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