I didn't learn about emotional intelligence until well into my 30s. By that time, I had started to realize that the best leaders -- those exhibiting high levels of EQ -- typically showed more self-awareness, collaborated better with others, and got promoted faster.
While EQ has been hotly debated over its effectiveness as a predictor of job success (one popular psychologist calls it "overrated"), Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, says "EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs."
There's no question leading and working with emotional intelligence will get you far. While numerous books have been written on the topic, my picks below (in no particular order) cover what I would consider the most influential books on emotional intelligence.
Working With Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman packs this one with fascinating case histories of triumphs, disasters, and dramatic turnarounds from more than 500 organizations around the world. Quite possibly his best work.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Why do we think the way we do, and why does that matter? In this compelling yet easy-to-understand work, psychologist Daniel Kahneman (winner of the Nobel Prize in economics) explains how we can use emotion to think and make better decisions.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
The aforementioned treatise by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves delivers a step-by-step program for increasing your EQ. It includes an online assessment to give you a baseline of your current EQ status. A great starter on EQ.
The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow
Bruna Martinuzzi connects familiar leadership strategies with EQ. Drawing on more than 25 years of leadership experience, this poetic and inspirational book conveys the key guidelines for the emotionally intelligent leadership needed for enduring success. It a must-have for leaders, people who work with leaders, or leaders developing leaders.
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
Daniel H. Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment -- and reveals how to master them.
The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership
David R. Caruso and Peter Salovey detail a practical, four-part hierarchy of emotional skills -- identifying emotions, using emotions to facilitate thinking, understanding emotions, and managing emotions -- and show how we can measure, learn, and develop each of the skills and employ them in an integrated way to solve our most difficult work-related problems.
Wired to Care (How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy)
In this essential and illuminating book, top business strategist Dev Patnaik (along with Peter Mortensen) tells the story of how organizations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power each of us already has: empathy, the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people.
Written by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, this is the seminal classic that solidified emotional intelligence in the business lexicon -- affirming its importance as a needed leadership skill for the workplace.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, this Daniel H. Pink classic examines the three elements of true motivation:
- Autonomy: People want to have control over their work and the decisions that affect their work.
- Mastery: People want to get better at what they do and to use their brilliance in the workplace.
- Purpose: People want to be part of something bigger than they are.
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
Author David Rock researched the brain's functions to help us understand ourselves and the human condition better. This book teaches us about our limitations and capacities, and how we can "direct" our own brain chemistry to achieve fulfillment and success.
The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships
An excellent resource on using EQ to build better relationships with just about everyone in your life, from an employee to a member of your family. Jeanne Segal shows you how to use basic tools of EQ to enhance communication, read nonverbal cues, and diffuse conflicts before they get out of hand.
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
First published in 1995, Daniel Goleman, the patriarch of EQ, offers extensive research and his own personal experience in examining why EQ is so important to our success and happiness. His ultimate message is for us to take care to nurture our children so that they will have a healthy emotional base as they grow.