Developing Emotional Intelligence

Article by Donna Earl

Managers ask how they can evaluate their emotional intelligence (EI) and increase their EI quotient. Below are steps for assessing and developing emotional intelligence.


Ideally through a 360 evaluation. Managers who could benefit the most from learning Emotional Intelligence (EI) are often behaviorally blind. They are blind to the impact their behavior is having on others, and on their careers. Remember: it’s not how you perceive your behavior. People respond based on their perceptions, not ours. We always have justifications for our behavior, in spite of the negative impact it might have on others. Understanding how others perceive us essential.


Identify situations where others respond in a negative, demotivated, or uncooperative manner.

  • Think of someone you know who demonstrates a high level of Emotional Intelligence.
  • How would this high EI role model handle the same situation?
  • How would their handling of the situation trigger a different response from others?
  • If this were a scene in a play, how would most of the audience describe and react to your actions?


A coach or mentor can provide invaluable assistance and accelerate the learning process. The professional coach can interpret 360 information and clarify the dynamics of situations you’ve identified in self-reflection. Mentors and coaches can heighten awareness and offer new ways of understanding situational dynamics. They can offer new ways of responding and anticipate new reactions from others.

Self-coaching occurs through vigilantly examining situations where others have responded differently than we’d have liked. We self-coach by:

  • Constantly examining our own behavior as a causative factor in the outcome of a situation
  • Constantly using a more conscious behavioral choice
  • Constantly questioning our behavior patterns, assumptions, and automatic reactions.


This takes more time than cognitive learning and is much harder. We have been taught how to learn cognitive tasks. Unless we’ve tackled the behavioral change through counseling or coaching, we tend to react in predictable, automatic behavioral responses. Our set patterns, responses need questioning and changing if we’re not getting optimal reactions.

It takes time and a high level of motivation. We have to want to change, to be willing to constantly monitor actions and choose new behaviors.

It takes only a few moments to either manage an emotion or allow it to manage us.

  • Identify someone with a high Emotional Intelligence and think how they would respond to a given situation.
  • What response would they evoke in others?
  • What would the outcome be?

With every word and action, we are either building rapport or jeopardizing it. A key question to ask is: Does this word or action build rapport or jeopardize rapport?


As a result of behavior change, we should be noticing less tension and resistance and more cooperation, higher motivation and more openness from others.

A second 360 can be invaluable in validating progress, and determining areas for ongoing work. A coach or mentor can observe us in action, and offer objective feedback.

Honest self-reflection and constant awareness can provide reinforcing feedback that responses from others are becoming more positive.

We can also solicit honest feedback from others, letting them know that we’re making an effort to become more effective.


The mark of a high Emotional Intelligence leader is one who is open to continual learning, especially regarding behavioral changes that can increase leadership effectiveness.

Copyright © 2024 Donna Earl. All rights reserved.

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