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The Power of Emotional Intelligence: An Exploration of Key Authors, Findings, and its Critical Role

The advent of the term "Emotional Intelligence" or EQ has radically changed our perception of intelligence and decision-making. Previously dominated by IQ, the landscape of intelligence has diversified, acknowledging the value of emotions and social skills in personal success and wellbeing. This insight article delves into the key authors of emotional intelligence and their contributions, reveals significant research findings, and illuminates the critical role of emotional intelligence in decision-making processes. By understanding the foundations of emotional intelligence and its implications for effective decision-making, readers will gain valuable insights into how to leverage EQ to enhance their personal and professional lives.

An image by Severin Sorensen using MidJourney, 5/24/23

Defining emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) encompasses a set of skills that involve recognizing, understanding, and managing one's own emotions as well as the emotions of others. According to psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman, it consists of several key components:

  • Self-awareness: the foundation, enabling individuals to comprehend their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations.

  • Self-regulation: the ability to control and manage emotions, reactions, and impulses, fostering adaptability and composure.

  • Empathy: understanding and sharing the feelings of others, promoting understanding and compassion.

  • Social skills: encompasses effective communication, teamwork, and leadership, facilitating positive relationships.

  • Motivation: drives individuals to set and pursue meaningful goals while inspiring and energizing others.

Developing emotional intelligence offers numerous personal and professional benefits, including improved communication, decision-making, relationships, leadership capabilities, and overall well-being.

Key authors

The concept of "Emotional Intelligence" originated in academic literature back in 1990, coined by psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. However, it was not until 1995 when psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published his book titled, Emotional Intelligence, that the concept gained immense traction. Goleman broadened the definition to encompass aforementioned qualities such as empathy, motivation, social skills, and self-regulation. Since then, the notion of emotional intelligence has garnered widespread popularity and recognition.


Extensive research has consistently demonstrated the significant influence of emotional intelligence (EQ) on multiple domains of life. Studies have revealed that individuals with high EQ experience a range of benefits, including enhanced mental well-being, improved job performance, stronger leadership abilities, and more satisfying interpersonal relationships. For example, a comprehensive meta-analysis conducted by O'Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver, and Story (2011) identified a strong correlation between EQ and job performance, highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Similarly, Mayer, Roberts, and Barsade (2008) discovered a positive association between EQ and mental health, underscoring the broader impact of emotional intelligence on overall well-being. These findings underscore the value of developing and cultivating emotional intelligence for personal and professional success.

One noteworthy discovery regards the significance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the decision-making process. Pioneering researchers like Dr. Antonio Damasio and his colleagues have conducted neuroscientific studies which highlight the essential role of emotions in decision-making. Damasio's influential somatic marker hypothesis proposes that emotional processes play a guiding and biasing role in behavior, particularly when it comes to decision-making. These findings shed light on the intricate interplay between emotions and cognitive processes, underscoring the relevance of emotional intelligence in understanding and improving decision-making abilities.

Applying heart and mind in decision-making

In the realm of decision-making, the conventional dichotomy between logic and emotions fails to capture the full picture. Instead, the mind and heart work in harmony, with emotional intelligence (EQ) complementing logical reasoning to enrich our choices. Forbes recognizes that a heightened EQ enables individuals to become more attuned to their emotional responses, offering vital insights into their values, needs, and desires. This heightened awareness empowers us to communicate effectively, forge meaningful relationships, navigate stress, surmount challenges, and resolve conflicts, all of which culminate in well-rounded and informed decision-making. By embracing emotional intelligence, we unlock a powerful ally that enhances our ability to make sound judgments and chart a path to success.

It is essential to acknowledge that exclusively relying on emotional intelligence (EQ) can potentially result in impulsive decisions influenced by fleeting emotions. This is where intelligence quotient (IQ) comes into play. IQ aids in objectively analyzing the situation, logically evaluating various options, and anticipating potential outcomes. The optimal approach to decision-making involves a harmonious integration of both EQ and IQ, fostering a balanced synergy between rational thought and emotional comprehension. By combining these two dimensions, individuals can achieve a more comprehensive and well-informed decision-making process.

In a business context, leaders exemplifying high emotional intelligence (EQ) possess the ability to empathize with their team members, comprehending their emotions, needs, and motivations. This empathetic understanding translates into elevated team morale and enhanced productivity. When confronted with strategic decisions, these leaders adeptly integrate their emotional intelligence with logical analysis. They carefully consider both the emotional impact on their team and the rational benefits for the company, thereby crafting well-rounded and effective strategies that account for the human aspect alongside the organizational objectives. By synergistically leveraging EQ and rational analysis, leaders can foster a harmonious balance that drives success in both team dynamics and overall business outcomes.

Goleman's 'mixed model' of emotional intelligence (EQ) encapsulates the concept of harmonious integration by combining both emotional and cognitive abilities. This model, founded on the principles of emotional awareness and effective management, encompasses a range of key components as described above: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and motivation. Goleman's 'mixed model' offers a comprehensive framework that encompasses the various facets of emotional intelligence, providing a roadmap for personal growth and fostering success in interpersonal relationships and professional endeavors.

By harnessing the power of both emotional intelligence (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ), we have the ability to make decisions that not only align with rationality but also resonate with our core values and the individuals involved. The analytical capabilities of the mind, coupled with the intuitive wisdom of the heart, forge a decision-making process that is both effective and empathetic. This integration of EQ and IQ is increasingly recognized and prized in leadership roles and social interactions, reshaping the conventional notion of intelligence. It emphasizes that true intelligence extends beyond mere cognitive prowess, encompassing emotional awareness and understanding, ultimately redefining what it means to be truly 'smart'.

The main takeaway

The emergence of emotional intelligence (EQ) has revolutionized our comprehension of intelligence and decision-making. Research findings underscore the significant impact of emotions on our choices, challenging the notion that IQ alone determines intelligence. By effectively harnessing both our emotional and rational faculties, we can attain outcomes that are more comprehensive and well-rounded. This integration of heart and mind facilitates personal and professional success, paving the way for emotionally intelligent approaches to decision-making.

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