Emotional Intelligence in Management: A Primer

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Emotional Intelligence in Management: A Primer

Matthew N. O. Sadiku1, Philip O. Adebo1,

Sarhan M. Musa1

1Roy G. Perry College of Engineering Prairie View A&M University

Prairie View, TX 77446

Adebukola E. Oyewunmi2 2Department of Business Management, College of Business and Social Sciences, Covenant University, Nigeria

Abstract:- Emotions are everywhere. They influence our actions and behaviors. Emotional intelligence involves knowing when and how to express emotions. The study of emotions in management was for too long neglected. Emotional intelligence provides people skills to managers or management leaders. A manager who can develop goals that people are excited about, get others excited about their work, and generate positivity in the workplace is emotional intelligence and will be a successful leader. Researchers claim that a managers emotional intelligence (EI) is as important to the achievement of success as his cognitive intelligence quotient (IQ). This paper provides various ways emotional intelligence is being applied in management.

Key Words: Intelligence, emotional intelligence, management, manager


The term emotional intelligence is a paradox because it contains two contradictory terms: emotional and intelligence. By nature, humans are emotional creatures. Emotions are all around us in the workplace. They appear in many forms – facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and even works of art. They help us in making decisions and understand the world. We make decisions in an emotional manner and then justify them rationally. Emotions are also produced in other creatures such as animal and birds.

Intelligence, on the other hand, refers to the ability to reason validly about a domain of information. It is capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment. Traditionally, intelligence has been linked with performance in IQ tests. Emotional intelligence (EI) is a type of social intelligence that combines emotion and intelligence. It is the key to life and career success [1].

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a centuries-old phenomenon. Its history is as old as the history of mankind. EI is a way of life that subsumes a set of multiple capabilities to perceive, manage, assess, and evaluate ones own and other persons emotions [2]. It is identified as a core competency that predicts future career success in the workplace, academics, and personal relationships. Emotional intelligence is related to other type of intelligences such social intelligence, spiritual intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. It is regarded as a soft skill that is critical for managers to succeed in their professional roles. The individuals who are most likely to succeed in life, work, and relationships are those who are high in emotional intelligent.


Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ), refers to a person's ability to recognize, understand, manage, and reason with emotions. It has become a popular topic that is widely studied and applied in various fields such as psychology, psychiatry, business, education, engineering, healthcare, and computer science. Emotional intelligence influences how well employees interact with their colleagues at work. The evolution of emotional intelligence concept is summarized in Figure 1 [3]

There are three models of emotional intelligence: the ability based model, the trait model, and the mixed model. Ability model explains emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive and express emotion accurately and adaptively. Trait model of EI incorporates factors of personality into an overall construct. The mixed model encompasses abilities in addition to a pattern of features and vital personality components [4]. Only the mixed model, developed by Daniel Goleman, is considered here.

The five elements that characterize emotional intelligence were suggested by Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence [5-7].

  1. Self-Awareness: In order for emotional intelligence to be effective, it has to start with yourself. Emotional intelligence in the workplace begins with the individual and becoming self-aware. The skills and the features of a self-aware person are: (a) Be willing to examine how one makes his/her own evaluations; (b) Recognize negative thinking, anger and mood swings; (c) Practice tuning into own senses; (d) Make an effort to learn ones own intentions; (e) Pay attention to own behaviors.

  2. Self-Regulation: This means not allowing emotions to get the best of you. Self-regulation means that you can adapt effectively to situations as they change. The features that are required to be self-managed person includes: (a) Learn how to use self-talk as a tool and a skill; (b) Avoid negative thinking; (c) Learn relaxation skills; (d) Develop and use a sense of humor; (e) Self-Control; (f) Transparency; (g) Adaptability; (h) Achievement; (i) Initiative; (j) Optimism.

  3. Motivation: This is an ability to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Here is intrinsic energy to continue improving oneself and the business.

  4. Empathy: It refers to our ability to understand the emotions of those around us. Empathy has specific applications in workplace. These include sensitivity to diversity and helping people develop professionally.

  5. Social Skills: Social skills are necessary to guide people effectively in a specific direction and influence them. They are highly valued in the workplace because they lead to better communication and job performance. The skills desired for being socially-aware person includes: (a) Learn to use sensitivity; (b) Become aware of own defenses; (c) Take time to tune into the emotional background of own environment; (d) Practice matching communication with others.

    Thus, emotional intelligence is a combination of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, as shown in Figure 2 [8]. Based on these five elements, it is evident that a person with high emotional intelligence is the ideal person to work with. Emotional intelligence can be cultivated through dedicated effort and study. To succeed in the workplace and move up the career ladder, work on improving your emotional intelligence. Figure 3 shows that emotional intelligence is the foundation for critical skills [9]. EI is in no way replaces IQ. Rather emotional and cognitive intelligence are complimentary.


    These are some of the characteristics of individuals or managers with high emotional intelligence [10].

    1. They stay positive and manage difficult situations successfully.

    2. Make thoughtful decisions.

    3. They keep their emotions under control and discuss sensitive issues maturely and thoughtfully.

    4. Empathetic to their workers

    5. They have a strong positive influence on their team.

    6. Are calm under pressure.

    7. They know how to earn the respect of clients and employees.

    8. Listen more often than they speak.

    9. Can admit their mistakes and learn from them.

    10. Emotional intelligence has been studied extensively in business setting over the last decade.

Business leaders may benefit from the utilization of emotional intelligence. In business, the bottom line is crucial and those in leadership positions (managers and executives) are always held responsible for succeses and failures. Emotional intelligence, as a potential determinant in leadership, can greatly impact business success. Emotional intelligence leadership is necessary for managers and executives [11].

A manager is usually refers to the person in the position that gets things done. The manager essentially manages people, things, budgets, resources, etc. to ensure that tasks are completed. An organization requires a team of managers to run its daily operation. The six factors are that responsible for an effective manager are [7]:

  • Managing the Organizations environment and its resources

  • Organizing and coordination

  • Information handling

  • Providing for growth and development

  • Motivating and conflict handling

  • Strategic problem solving

    The saying that people leave managers, not organization indicates that handling people is always a difficult task. Handling people with more sophisticated manner keep them motivated and retain the talent. Emotional intelligence is fundamental to managers understanding of the needs of others [12]. The emotional intelligence of a manager is directly linked with his managerial effectiveness.

    As Rajeev Suri rightly said, Leadership is all about emotional intelligence. Management is taught, while leadership is experienced. All the technical expertise a manager has learned can be totally nullified if he does not have good people skills. The morale, emotions, and behaviors of a manager have a great impact on the workplace and influence. Managerial EI is a behavioral pattern that is similar to the transformational leadership style. Emotionally intelligent managers are better positioned to successfully lead their teams.

    There is a positive correlation between the emotional intelligence of managers and the work climate. A manager with high emotional intelligence focuses on getting the right things done, is enthusiastic about embracing change, makes others feel important, and helps others succeed. Emotional intelligent manager helps an organization to develop a vision for competitiveness and motivates organizational members to achieve the vision. While good managers can provide many benefits for an organization, unsuccessful managers can be detrimental.

    Emotional intelligence is not restricted to managers. Employees with high are usually more satisfied with their jobs because they are more skillful at regulating and directing their own emotions.


    The notion of emotional intelligence continues to attract attention in respect of organizational prosperity, effectiveness, and change. An emotionally intelligent organization seeks to come to terms with any differences between the values it philosophies and those it lives [13].

    Organizations assess themselves in various ways besides profit. Besides managers considered above, other areas of management where emotional intelligence is being applied include the following:

  • Leadership: Leaders are not just expected to manage, but to also lead with a sensitive aspect. Leaders create the environments within which we work. They can create a productive, happy, healthy environments, where employees feel valued, inspired, motivated, and where they feel they can produce their best work. Leaders must be carefully selected since the selection affects other aspects of an organization, such as organizational commitment, employee job satisfaction, job performance, attendance, productivity, profit, etc. Leadership of today must incorporate people skills. Key characteristics such as dominance, assertiveness, intelligence, physical stature, and social sensitivity are traits that determine whether an individual is best suited for leadership or followership [14]. Leading with emotional intelligence is to inspire, motivate, instill a sense of worth, and influence others to work to their fullest potential.

  • Job Satisfaction: This is among the most essential attitudes managers should seek to attain in their workplace. It is the satisfaction or dissatisfaction with respect to different aspects of the job (pay, supervision, the work itself, the work itself, pay, promotions, recognition, working conditions, benefits, etc.). Job satisfaction may also be regarded as a set of complex emotional reactions to the job [15].

  • Project Management: Emotional intelligence is an indispensable component of the project manager. Communication and networking are essential in project management since project management may fail due to poor communication. A project manager should have a network of coworkers on whom to rely on at any point in time. Project managers perform several tasks such tracking dependencies, making sure objectives are on track, gathering metrics, and resolve conflicts. Conflict resolution is regarded as one of the critical project management success factors [16]. For example, in the domain of construction project management, EI has been proposed (i) as a remedy for the blame and conflict culture in construction, (ii) as a management tool to foster collaborations in construction, (iii) as a vitally important selection criterion for future generations of construction project managers, and (iv) as an intrinsically important element [17].

  • Conflict Management: Conflict is part of life and handling or managing conflicts effectively is essential. It is a phenomenon that presents itself within organizations and lead to disturbed routines, and decreased productivity and satisfaction. Conflict is largely due to pursuit of diverse and incompatible interests by different individuals that form the organization. A conflict can either be functional (positive) or dysfunctional (negative) depending on how the conflict is managed. Conflict management is the ability to recognize problems and take action in managing the emotions involved. This may involve negotiating and resolving disagreements. Workplace conflicts affect employees in many ways. There are different conflict management styles, which are basically the behavioral patterns people employ when dealing with conflicts. High emotional intelligence individuals manage conflicts more efficient than those with low emotional intelligence [18,19].

  • Stress Management: Stress is a part of life. For some organizations, stress is inevitable. Stress comes in various forms, degree, and duration depending on the stressor. In essence, job stress is a negative interaction between the employee and the job environment. For example, healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, and emergency assistants go through a lot of stress daily. In the workplace, effective stress tolerance has to do with managing reasonable workloads, establishing clear priorities, and meeting realistic deadlines. Stress is sometimes related with errors workers make and reduces personal job satisfaction. It is therefore important to develop a workshop to enhance the emotional intelligence of workers and managers who are continually exposed to potentially stressful situations. Emotional intelligence and stress management are related and high emotional intelligent individuals are better in stress management. Stress management strategies include meditation, exercising, dieting, relaxation, humor, and drugs [20,21].

  • Knowledge Management: Knowledge is innately residing in the mind of a person. Organizations need individual knowledge carriers (such as the employee, employer, manager, team leader, CEO, or business partner) to participate and process knowledge for services. The knowledge-intensive economy demands the successful management of knowledge. Organizations often draw on knowledge management practices as part of strategic human resource management to enhance employee performance to generate profit. Knowledge is retained in organizations where EI enacts individuals' corporate citizenship behavior, adaptability, and job satisfaction. High levels of EI is essential for knowledge to be processed in organiations [22]. Figure 4 shows the motivation in knowledge management [23].

  • Relationship Management: Relationship management builds upon self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness skills. It requires that a leader can inspire and influence others. They can communicate and execute their vision while developing positive relationships. They are people of integrity and can build trust and credibility. Relationship management is helpful in dealing with conflict. As shown in Figure 5, relationship management is one of the four branches of emotional intelligence [24].

    Other areas of application of emotional intelligence in management include anger management, management students, lean management, human resource management, revenue management, organizational politics, communication, networking, diversity management, healthcare management, and teamwork and collaboration.


    Emotions are some of the main pillars that influence the behaviors of managers and employees.

    Individuals with high emotional intelligence are often sensitive to their own strengths and weaknesses as well as the needs of others. EI traits are among main prerequisites for recruitment and promotion. There are rewards for building and maintaining ones emotional intelligence as a manager. Emotional intelligent managers know how to ignite worker passion and create healthy, happy, fully engaged work environments. Employees in such environments stay and contribute to their full potential for their whole careers [25].

    A major criticism about emotional intelligence has been the lack of empirical research on its measurement, validity, and scientific basis. There has been lack of agreement among researchers regarding the conceptualization and measurement of emotional intelligence.


    Emotions are a powerful motivator for future behavior. Emotional intelligence refers to a persons capacity to process emotion related information about self and others. The phenomenon of emotional intelligence has become widely popular across a wide range of researchers, particularly in the management sector. Emotional intelligence is crucial to the performance and success of individuals in all walks of life and organizations. It has been shown to differentiate leading managers from less able performers.

    Higher education institutions have started to incorporate EI-related components into their curriculum [26]. To learn more about how to apply emotional intelligence in the workplace, consult the books in [5, 27-29] and journals related to it:

  • Intelligence

  • Journal of Management Development

  • Journal of Management Education

  • British Journal of Management


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Matthew N.O. Sadiku is a professor emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas. He is the author of several books and papers. His areas of research interests include computational electromagnetics and computer networks. He is a fellow of IEEE.

Philip O. Adebo is an instructor at Texas Southern University. He completed his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Prairie View A&M University with emphasis on power systems. His research interests include power systems, renewable energy, microgrids, smart-grid systems, restructuring power system and optimization of power systems.

Adebukola E. Oyewunmi is an Assistant Professor of human resource management (HRM) and Organization Studies in the College of Business and Social Sciences, Covenant University, Nigeria. Her research interests include HRM, organizational psychology, Africa-China business relations, and Africas indigenous management practices. She is an alumnus of the University of South Wales, United Kingdom and the lead consultant of her own firm.

Sarhan M. Musa is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Prairie View A&M University, Texas. He has been the director of Prairie View Networking Academy, Texas, since 2004. He is an LTD Sprint and Boeing Welliver Fellow. His research interests include computer networks and computational electromagnetics.

Figure 1 Evolution of emotional intelligence concept [3].

Figure 2 Five components of emotional intelligence [8].

Figure 3 Emotional intelligence is the foundation for critical skills [9].

Figure 4 Motivation in knowledge management [23].

Figure 5 EI can be separated into four quadrants of skills [24].

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