Emotional Intelligence in Teams

How well a team achieves a task will depend on how well it is able to tap into the talents and skills of members of a team. This itself depends on the degree to which it is able to create a state of harmony. Emotional intelligence in individuals is one thing but emotional intelligence in teams is another.


In Daniel Goleman’s book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” he gives the example of Bell Labs which has many staff with high levels of academic achievement. Notwithstanding the all round high levels of academic achievement, some staff put in “star” performances compared to the rest.


After investigating this and trying to get an understanding, it was concluded that the critical differences all related to interpersonal strategies used by the “stars” to get work done.


The “stars” put time into cultivating good relationships with people whose services might be needed in solving problems or handling a crisis. They build reliable networks before they actually need them. These informal networks were particularly important in unexpected problems.


The “stars” were also found to have mastered the ability to promote co-operation and avoid conflict, and to see things from the perspective of customers and team members.


The “stars” also demonstrated an ability to be self motivated and to take on responsibilities above and beyond their stated job responsibilities.


As knowledge based services and intellectual capital become more central to competitiveness, improving the way people work together will help access intellectual capital.


Goleman in his research for his book found that leading companies are seeking from new hires emotional intelligence behaviours such as collaboration, teamwork, initiative, self confidence, persuasiveness, adaptability, interpersonal skills, listening and oral communications, and negotiating disagreement ahead of their technical abilities.


He also found the three most important characteristics that companies were seeking from MBA level employees were communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative.


These “star” behaviours can be learned by those who want to learn.


To begin, they need to have honest self assessment of where they are at and what is their development need.


To be successful in bringing back and applying that learning, the organisation too must value and support emotional intelligence.


There needs to role models (“stars”) for learners to refer to. Ideally the senior managers should be those role models and encourage the development of organisation wide emotional intelligence.


So, current and future organisations increasingly require emotional intelligence above technical skills. This is expecially true the higher up the organisation one goes.



Daniel Goleman. (1996). Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ. Bloomsbury
Daniel Goleman. (2012). Working with Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books

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