The Emotionally Intelligent Manager

Have you ever watched one of the original episodes of Star Trek where Spock, the Vulcan Science Officer, only uses logical and analytical skills with no emotions when making a decision during a highly stressful situation? Unfortunately, this is precisely the way David Caruso and Peter Salovey, pioneers of emotional intelligence, suggest most organizations wish their leaders would behave. 

But in Caruso and Salovey’s book, The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the For Key Emotional Skills of Leadership, it urges leaders not to follow Spock’s wisdom. Their fundamental belief of an emotionally intelligent manager is “that emotion is not just important but absolutely necessary for making decisions and taking optimal action to solve problems, cope with change and succeed.”1 

They do this with four interrelated competencies: 

  • Identify emotions: become aware of your feelings and express them accurately.
  • Use emotions: emotions influence your thinking, allow it. 
  • Understand emotions: Recognize that emotions are not a random event; there are underlying causes. Find out what they are trying to tell you.
  • Manage emotions: Allow yourself to stay open to our emotions and integrate them into our thinking and decisions.  

Caruso and Salovey say that you should never have a set strategy going into a difficult conversation or situation. Nor should you bury your emotions. Instead, they suggest that you need to take account of your feelings and how others feel at that moment and make that a part of your analysis of the situation. They say using these feelings to guide your thinking and reasoning might change and develop the event as it unfolds, which will result in positive outcomes. 

The authors say the key to this approach is emotional identification– defining the emotion of yourself and others because these emotions contain data that can help us prepare and integrate them into our conversations and decisions, if we stay open to them.

Like the Vulcans, many people and businesses believe emotions are weak, irrational or makes you vulnerable. But the authors say it is the opposite. Being an emotionally intelligent manager allows you to plan, be adaptive and be a flexible thinker when identifying and using emotions. 

In this book, Caruso and Salovey share evidence showing the importance of these skills in the workplace. They teach you detailed instructions on how to use and apply these skills. 

So don’t be a “Spock” – embrace your emotions and let them help analyze the situation to help make the best decision.

1 Caruso, D., & Salovey, P. (2019). The emotionally intelligent manager: How to develop and use the four key emotional skills of leadership. Dyslexic Books,ReadHowYouWant.

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