In my 20s--well before founding a company and writing about servant leadership--my library was mostly composed of books about sports, science fiction, and whatever young, self-centered men were reading in the '90s.
As you may have guessed, that led me down the boulevard of broken relationships (including one divorce), critical errors in judgment, and a few horrendous career moves.
Reinventing myself in my 30s, I discovered the need for emotional intelligence and raising my emotional quotient (EQ) to make more positive choices in life. Looking back at my wasted 20s, I would have begged for a library like the one below.
Now, many of these books are lifelines that have kept me on top of my game as I navigate the entrepreneurial space and juggle a happy marriage and parenting. While not an exhaustive list, it covers what I would consider the best, most popular, and most influential books on emotional intelligence.
Before you hit 30, hit these up!
1. 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.
2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0: Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves deliver 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.
3. Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: The Secret to Developing the Star Potential in Your Employees: This book provides a carefully planned strategy to help managers address the issues that make coaching for EI more challenging than coaching for performance alone.
4. The EQ Edge: Authors Steven Stein and Howard Book offer fascinating, and sometimes surprising, insights into what it takes to be a top cop, lawyer, school principal, student, doctor, dentist, or CEO. Also, the book lays out what the top EQ factors are across many different kinds of jobs, from customer service reps to HR professionals.
5. Go Suck a Lemon: Strategies for Improving your Emotional Intelligence: Michael Cornwall has a somewhat no-holds-barred approach to writing, but it's meant to really stop you in your tracks so you can self-assess whether you're truly emotionally intelligent. Very reality-based, with clear examples.
6. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights: Goleman brings his easy-to-understand writing style to bear on more recent (2011) neurological research on emotional intelligence.
7. Primal Leadership: The bottom line of Primal Leadership is that one of the most important tasks of a leader is to create good feelings in the people they lead. They do this by maintaining those same positive feelings in themselves. In addition, they have to create and sustain change and build an EI competent organization.
8. The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success: In this book, you'll find new ways to build stronger relationships, get ahead at work, feel more confident, and even be a better leader.
9. The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work: The author showcases the profound effect emotions can have on all aspects of work life, from performance to co-worker relationships, and discusses ways that anyone can start improving his or her interpersonal relationships with simple changes in thought and action.
10. 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 employees to your family. Jeanne Segal shows you how to use five basic tools of EQ to enhance communication, read non-verbal cues, and diffuse conflicts before they get out of hand.
11. The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book: Similar to their Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves help readers assess their own EQ, learn more about what EQ means, and get advice on developing their EQ at work, at home, and for personal well-being.
12. The New Psycho-Cybernetics: This is an updated version of the influential book that Maxwell Maltz published in 1960. The theory of psycho-cybernetics examines the process of controlling thoughts and emotions. This book will teach you how to transform them from negative to positive.
13. Building Emotional Intelligence: Written for parents. It's important to help your children develop the foundations of EQ at an early age, and author Linda Lantieri shows you how. Also useful for adults interested in boosting their EQ.
14. 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.
15. 105 Tips for Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Organization: More Success by Focusing on Work Attitude and Motivation: Each of the authors works as a trainer, consultant, or coach, and walks you through steps to create more emotionally intelligent workplaces. Great for people in human resources management, as it covers recruiting, training, coaching, managing, building teams, handling conflicts, retention, and even outplacement.
16. How to Raise a Child With a High EQ: A Parents' Guide to Emotional Intelligence: Filled with games, checklists, and practical parenting techniques, this book will help your child to cope with--and overcome--the emotional stress of modern times and the normal problems of growing up.
17. The EQ Interview: Finding Employees With High Emotional Intelligence: The EQ Interview gives readers the skills and understanding they need to assess candidates' emotional intelligence and ensure that they're the right fit for the job. The book then arms interviewers with more than 250 behavior-based questions specially formulated to help determine how applicants have used their EQ in past experiences.
18. Quick Emotional Intelligence Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Team Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes: This simple, easy-to-use book gives managers, supervisors, and team leaders activities to help their teams overcome emotional obstacles and become more effective. Readers will find powerful, proven exercises they can use to help their employees.
19. Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children: Pioneering educator Linda Lantieri and Daniel Goleman help children respond to and rebound from the challenges unique to the 21st century through a breakthrough, step-by-step guide that teaches children how to quiet their minds, calm their bodies, and manage their emotions more skillfully.
20. Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers: The People Skills You Need to Achieve Outstanding Results: Readers will learn how to: Set the tone and direction for the project, communicate more effectively, improve listening skills, create a positive work environment, and motivate, coach, and mentor team members. Complete with checklists and self-assessments, this handy guide enables project managers to apply these important skills to their projects right away.
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