Academic journal article Aerospace Power Journal

Emotional Intelligence: Implications for All United States Air Force Leaders

Academic journal article Aerospace Power Journal

Emotional Intelligence: Implications for All United States Air Force Leaders

Article excerpt

Editorial Abstract. Emotional intelligence and its five domains of empathy, handling relationships, self-awareness, managing emotions, and motivating oneself constitute a set of learned, interpersonal abilities that allow leaders to become highly effective. The authors outline the characteristics of emotional intelligence and offer practical ways for readers to integrate its techniques into their leadership style.

Knowing others and knowing oneself, in one hundred battles no danger Not knowing the other and knowing oneself, one victory for one loss. Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle certain defeat.

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES the emerging field of emotional intelligence (EI). It discusses what it is, why it matters in general terms, how individuals can improve their EI, and what impact it has on the effectiveness of US Air Force leaders. Specifically, El is powerful because it overrides logic in the brain due to the way people are wired. Unlike natural intelligence, usually labeled IQ El can be developed. Studies have shown that highly productive team leaders have high El. That is why Air Force leaders at all levels should know about this emerging field. As will become apparent, Sun Tzu's concise observations about the awareness of both self and others anticipated the results that emerged from twentieth-century EI studies. He asserted that a person with selfknowledge as well as knowledge of the opponent will win. EI studies offer a more sophisticated, more practical approach to developing this essential awareness of self and others. More specifically, almost all highly effective leaders have El-lesser leaders do not.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Scientists began tracing the outlines of El in the 1920s. By 1990 J. D. Mayer and P. Salovey had identified five EI domains under two overarching relational areas:


Empathy involves the degree that individuals are sensitive to others' feelings and concerns. Empathetic leaders are sensitive to the differences in how people feel about things. Such leaders are able to step outside themselves to evaluate situations from another perspective.

Handling Relationships describes how effectively leaders detect and manage the organization's emotional environment. This requires developing a wide-ranging competence for sensing subtle shifts in the social atmosphere.


* Self-Awareness involves purposeful monitoring of one's emotional reactions to identify feelings as they emerge.

* Managing Emotions builds on the understanding of emotional origins derived from self-awareness to manage feelings appropriately as they arise.

* Motivating Oneself requires individuals to channel emotions effectively. Examples could include stifling impulses and delaying gratifications.1

When one considers El in light of these domains, it becomes obvious that the field represents a set of comprehensive, interpersonal abilities rather than hardwired native skills; as such, it can be learned. El could well be called "affective effectiveness." The affective domain consists of mind, will, and emotions ("heart knowledge"); it contrasts with linguistic, logical, mathematical, and spatial intelligences-the cognitive domain of "head" knowledge. When military leaders unfamiliar with EI first hear about it, they are generally unreceptive. But there is more to judging this "book" than its "touchy-feely-sounding" cover.

Currently, Dr. Daniel Coleman is the leading author and researcher in El studies. He begins his first book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than LQ., with a discussion of the brain-mapping work of neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux of the New York University Center for Neural Sciences:

His findings on the circuitry of the emotional brain overthrow a long-standing notion about the limbic system, putting the amygdala at the center of the action. …

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