What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our emotions, and it’s also the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of other people. The best way to think about how to use emotional intelligence is by Connecting the CORD©. Emotional intelligence helps us to Communicate effectively, identify Opportunities, build Relationships and make smart Decisions. By applying emotional intelligence to the way you live your life and lead, you will elevate yourself and everyone around you. 

Emotional intelligence is a skill set that consists of several essential components, which include: 

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management (Self-Regulation)
  • Motivation
  • Empathy 
  • Social Skill 

These can be applied using my proprietary You→ Why→ Your Organization© framework. Simply put, emotional intelligence begins with You. This starts with focusing on self-awareness and managing yourself effectively each day. Then, you can understand your purpose and motivational drivers, as well as the motivating factors of others. You learn why those matter. You’re then equipped to bring your best self to lead with empathy, communicate effectively and build high-quality relationships that benefit yourself and others. Let’s look at the components of emotional intelligence. 


Self-awareness is the ability to understand and make sense of our emotions, and how we understand and know our character. Self-awareness matters immensely in life and  leadership. Knowing our strengths, values, beliefs and goals helps us build a critical foundation of self-identity that guides us in everything we do. Self-awareness is also the art of “reading the room” and recognizing how others perceive us when we’re connecting with them. We’re always observing how others are receiving us in conversation.

Self-awareness is significantly aided by feedback we receive from others. We cannot rely only on self-knowledge— we’re enhanced and improved by the wisdom of others. And we should always keep an open ear and mind to praise, recognition and constructive criticism that is aimed to help us improve.


Holding yourself accountable to commitments, adapting to the range of positive and negative emotions, and learning how to publicly and privately manage your emotions in a healthy way lie at the intersection of self-management and regulation. Excellent self-managers are flexible, organized, and adept at managing their time. Self-managers are masters of prioritization and organization. Meaning, they know the value of their time and they honor it each day by being organized with how they complete projects and tasks. They're also masters of building relationships.

Self-management is about knowing when to shift course and analyze changing information and emotions. This is what adaptability, another cornerstone of emotional intelligence, is all about. Self-management helps you to put it all together by being well organized, emotionally mature, and programmed for daily success. When you understand and recognize your emotions, you're better informed to manage your emotions successfully in everything that you do.


Motivation is the spark—the driving force—that empowers our mindset and strengthens our preparation and commitment to achieve our goals. Motivation is one of those words that people often misinterpret because it has a lot of meaning. We can motivate ourselves (self-motivation), we can be motivated (and influenced) by others, and we can motivate others.

Motivation is real. It’s incredibly valuable to understand your own motivating factors (e.g. pay, title, passion for the work, connecting with others) and to also understand what makes your colleagues, friends and family members tick. Discipline and consistency matter immensely to success and these are ingredients that inform the habits we set. Yet, self-motivation and understanding the emotions of others allows us to see the bigger picture and tactical details with greater efficiency and purpose.


Empathy is the ability to understand, perceive, or feel what someone is going through from within their frame of reference. Or simply put, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. When you invest in someone’s personal and professional interests, you gain an understanding of them. Empathy increases our ability to build connection with someone and focuses on the “C” and “R” of Connecting the CORD. We want to communicate effectively by listening first, then responding in a way that shows that we care and have concern for someone’s well-being. And we want to build a relationship to build connection that is mutually beneficial.

To be truly empathetic, you need to be self-aware. You must understand and recognize that people want to feel heard, be respected, and be treated fairly. The secret of empathy is to lead with curiosity and passion toward wanting to get to know someone on both a personal and professional level.

Social Skill

Your ability to influence the people around you leads to the best relationships and opportunities of your life. Social skill is the composite of several core components of emotional intelligence. When self-awareness, empathy, motivation, and self-management coalesce, we have the confidence and assuredness to influence and engage others in an impactful way. Social skill is about using our communication and relationship-building gifts in an altruistic manner by having a servant’s heart and a desire to help someone else. By understanding how to satisfy our own needs and wants, we’re able to serve the needs and wants of others. Our ability to form deep, lasting connections by communicating with empathy, understanding what makes someone tick and doing so for the betterment of everyone is what social skill is all about.

Emotional intelligence is the most important skill for high-performance and long-term success in the workplace. It’s a skill set that every individual can learn and improve on each day. The need for emotional intelligence in communicating effectively, collaborating, and driving results is critical in all walks of life and business. It’s this focus on soft skills that is essential in the modern world. 

The mindset of a champion leader is rooted in emotional intelligence, which increases self-awareness while enhancing your strengths. The best part about emotional intelligence is that it’s a skill set that you can work on and improve everyday. 


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