November 21, 2015 | Posted in:Leadership

A very important element of my personal leadership philosophy is based upon the concepts of emotional intelligence. My understanding for emotional intelligence derives from the work of Daniel Goleman’s through his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and also his joint work with Boyatzis & McKee on Primal Leadership (2004).

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions of others and yourself, and to use the understandings of these emotions to guide thinking and behavior (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2004; Goleman, 1995).

Great Leadership Works through Emotions

Goleman outlines that emotional intelligence is made up of five constructs:

  1. Self-Awareness – ability to known one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, vales and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  2. Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  3. Social Skill – managing relationships to move people in the desire direction.
  4. Empathy – considering other [people’s feelings especially when making decisions.
  5. Motivation – being drive to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Specifically, it is through employing emotional intelligence in my communications, vision casting, and trust building that I lead within and at my university. It can be a challenging task to clearly outline a vision in an inspirational and emotionally expressive way. However, emotional intelligence assists me in doing this in a very practical way.

I accomplish this through individual consideration (Burns, 1978), by personally taking the time to meet with our department’s leadership and staff regularly. These meetings are a leadership behavior that I have come to habitually conduct at my university. It is in these personal meetings, as well as in the regular departmental wide meetings, that I seek to incorporate emotional intelligence in an effective way to inspire others to also serve.

As I meet with staff regularly, my intention is to understand the emotional layout of the department (social skill and empathy), as well as communicate our team’s direction. I seek to understand my own emotions (self-awareness), as well as channel those emotions (self-regulation) to positively encourage each staff member (motivation) to lead transformation effectively. Without employing the concepts of emotional intelligence in these regular meetings, leading at my university would be an almost impossible task to accomplish.

I found have found that once you understand how important positive and encouraging emotions are for leadership, and furthermore how they contribute to employee motivation, your leadership style will change forever.

One of my favorite quotes on emotional intelligence, which encapsulates the transformational and tremendous power of emotional intelligence, comes from Goleman, where he explains:

“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passions and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas … the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions” (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2004, p.16).


Works Cited:

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2004). Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can mater more than IQ. New York: Bantam.

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Grey Hoff, Jr.

Dallas-Area Christ follower, Knowledge Junkie, Organizational Leadership, World-Traveler, Connector, Story-teller, Friend-maker, Assistant Vice President for Finance and Global Development at Dallas Baptist University and Pepperdine University Doctoral Student. Email:

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    • Grey Hoff, Jr.

      Thank you Maria. Grateful for your encouragement, and I hope it was beneficial for you.