Train Your Brain

Article excerpt

T&D spoke with author Daniel Goleman, who explains how emotional intelligence outweighs cognitive ability and technical skills as a contributor to success in the workplace.

In his first book, Emotional Intelligence, former New York Times writer Daniel Goleman reported on scientific studies of emotion and showed how to bring intelligence to emotion. He offered his book as a "guide to making sense of the senselessness" that has recently overtaken our world: random violence, school shootings - what Goleman terms "emotional malaise."

In his second book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, published this month by Bantam Books, the author translates his earlier findings into a formula for success at work. He outlines a set of emotional intelligence competencies that can contribute more to workplace achievement than technical skills and cognitive ability combined. He also proposes a set of guidelines to evaluate corporate training programs on their attention to emotional intelligence competencies.

Goleman currently serves as co-chairperson of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. He is a psychologist and researcher in psychobiology and underscores his findings with compelling data gleaned from modern neuroscience. Recently, we spoke with Goleman about emotional intelligence competencies, the guidelines, and his latest book.

Salopek: Why did you write Working with Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman: I wanted to give a rationale for looking at this range of skill as separate from technical skills and cognitive ability. I also wanted to explore the reasons that the transfer from training to job performance has been so poor. This poor transfer is why we set about looking for empirically grounded best practices and why we came up with the ones we did.

Salopek: How did this book grow out of your first book?

Goleman: The first book became somewhat of a worldwide phenomenon. It's been translated into almost 30 languages and has become a best-seller in almost every part of the world. There are now over 4 million copies in print worldwide. In some countries it's one of the best-selling books ever, such as Taiwan, Brazil, and Germany.

This is all to say that there was immense interest in it. What surprised me was that I had been expecting to hear from educators, because there's a lot about children in there, but I hadn't expected the huge wave of interest from business. To my surprise, I was answering requests for speeches and consulting from organizations all over the world. This set me on an odyssey of talking to people in organizations of all kinds about how emotional intelligence mattered for what they were doing. The result is Working with Emotional Intelligence.

Salopek: What was your primary goal for the book?

Goleman: To explore systematically, as I had for the first book, what the empirical data suggested was the importance of these skills. I was quite surprised myself to find out just how much emotional intelligence-based competencies affect performance for jobs of all kinds. They are twice as important as cognitive ability and technical expertise combined. The higher you go in an organization, the more it matters. So, for leadership positions, these skills account for close to 90 percent of what distinguishes the most outstanding leaders from average ones.

That puts a premium on getting people who have these abilities or on cultivating these abilities in the people you already have and value - which gets me to training.

I realized that there was really something significant that needed to be done in setting new standards for training in this area. Most companies say that they put a huge amount of effort into cultivating this range of emotional intelligence competencies.

Salopek: What are the emotional intelligence competencies?

Goleman: [The competencies include] self-confidence, empathy, the need to get results, constant improvement, influence, and teamwork. …