What is your favorite definition of emotional intelligence? Since Daniel Goleman published his influential book Emotional Intelligence, there have been hundreds of different definitions, different approaches, different interpretations, and different theoretical perspectives on emotional Intelligence. Here are a few examples of popular definitions:
1. “Emotional intelligence represents an ability to validly reason with emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought.”
2. “Emotional intelligence refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotion and their relationships, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them.”
3. “Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.”
4. “Emotional intelligence describes the ability to understand one's own feelings, and that of groups, and how these emotions can influence motivation and behavior.
We always gain different perspectives from varying definitions—and while I appreciate all of these, I have a favorite that I would like to share. It is actually an adaptation of Aristotle’s concept of managing emotions: “Emotional intelligence is the capacity of expressing the right emotion, with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way.” Applied to leadership, this concept will make a difference in the relationship between leaders and followers.
The Leadership Conference at Andrews University in July 2012 was a good opportunity to explore our perspectives on emotional intelligence and emotional leadership. I hope you enjoyed the presentations by Daniel Goleman and the subsequent panel discussions.