Emotional Intelligence: A Key Factor in Life, Business & Politics

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March Madness
September 1, 2018
Telling Someone Off: Short-Term Impact; Permanent Damage
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The political season is in full swing, and with primary elections in May, general elections in November and many more to follow, it is not uncommon to see candidates/potential candidates, consultants and supporters at public events and in the media floating trial balloons and testing the political waters. And while many gravitate toward one candidate and/or party, most would agree certain candidates on both sides of the isle seem to have more appeal than others and are clearly gaining more traction. That appeal and political movement may have more to do with “Emotional Intelligence” than any other factor.

From a life, business and political perspective, Emotional Intelligence is changing our concept of “being smart.” Emotional Intelligence (EI)-how we handle ourselves and our relationships-coupled with IQ, determine life, career and political success. Most have witnessed someone with extremely high IQ coupled with low EI crash and burn. In the business world way too many CEO’s are hired on their expertise and fired on their personality. Politically, way too many candidates are recruited because of their resume and defeated at the ballot box because they never really connected with voters.

Simply put, a candidate’s emotions are contagious, resonating energy and enthusiasm, all playing a crucial role in the success of a political organization. Volunteers, campaign staff and voters get excited, want to get involved, will work the long hours and most importantly, support the EI candidate and recruit others to do the same. Similarly, in business, we follow leaders with whom we connect. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll cited the number one reason for employee engagement was a personal relationship with one’s immediate supervisor, a supervisor with high EI that recognizes this important link between relationship and performance.

In short, our view of human intelligence tends to be narrowly focused, and often ignores a crucial range of abilities that matter immensely in terms of how well we do in politics, business and in our personal life. Emotional Intelligence might be a key factor and help explain when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ coupled with high EI do surprisingly well. The following are key factors in determining our Emotional Intelligence:


  • Emotional self-awareness: understanding one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact; using “gut sense” to guide decisions
  • Accurate self-assessment: knowing one’s strengths and limitations
  • Self-confidence: A sound sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities



  • Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control
  • Transparency: Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness
  • Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles
  • Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence
  • Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities
  • Optimism: Seeing the upside in events


Social Awareness

  • Empathy: Sensing other’s emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking interest in their concerns
  • Organizational awareness: Reading the currents, recognizing/managing cliques, understanding decision networks, and an awareness of the politics at the organizational level
  • Service: Recognizing and meeting the needs of others


Relationship Management

  • Inspirational Leadership: Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision
  • Influence: Wielding a range of tactics for persuasion
  • Developing others: Bolstering other’s abilities through couching and feedback
  • Conflict management: Appreciating differences and resolving disagreements
  • Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team building


Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves in The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book, connect EI with job title and their findings are both surprising and alarming. They found that EI scores rise from front-line supervisors to middle management, but beyond middle management, there is a steep decline, in EI scores. For the titles of director and above, scores sharply decline with CEOs on average having the lowest EI scores.

Could the same be said of government and more specifically political campaigns? EI scores rise from volunteers, the front-line, campaign workers and political staff but a steep decline with the top campaign brass and perhaps the actual candidate? Perhaps we will be able to best answer that question come election time.