Emotional intelligence is the ability of a person to recognize her own emotions and those of others, and to manage emotions to enhance performance. A person who has a high degree of emotional intelligence exhibits the following characteristics:
Perceives emotions. This person is able to detect and interpret emotions, both in herself and others. This is the core skill in emotional intelligence, since it is needed to process emotion-related information.
Uses emotions. This person is able to harness emotions to enhance her cognitive activities related to problem solving.
Understands emotions. This person appreciates changes in emotions over time, however slight, and understands how they can alter a person’s behavior. This skill includes a high degree of empathy, which is being able to understand and share the feelings of others. A person who understands emotions appreciates diverging viewpoints and can interact effectively with the holders of those viewpoints.
Manages emotions. This person can regulate her own emotions, and is also able to manage the emotions of others. This skill can be used to control negative emotions that might otherwise cloud one’s thinking, allowing for a reasonable degree of optimism even when there have been significant setbacks.
Emotional intelligence is an essential capability for a leader, who will be much more effective if he can relate to others on an emotional level. Conversely, a person with low emotional intelligence can quickly destroy employee morale, triggering low levels of organizational effectiveness.