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Emotional Intelligence Part I: The 5 Competencies

Emotional Intelligence Part I: The 5 Competencies

How’s your ‘EQ’? It’s not a question you’re probably asked very often, if at all, but it’s definitely one to consider – especially when it comes to your career.

For years, a person’s “Intelligence Quotient” or IQ was thought to determine how successful they’d be on the job and in life, however, over time, researchers began finding that emotional maturity played a key role in success as well.

In the early 90’s, Researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer published a report on the importance of Emotional Intelligence – often referred to as “EI” or “EQ” (for “Emotional Quotient”). The researchers defined EQ as the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions; discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately; and use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

When psychologist and New York Times Science reporter Daniel Goleman happened upon Salovey and Mayer’s report, he was so fascinated he wrote a book on the subject. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ was first published in 1995 and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller – introducing the concept of EQ to the mainstream and forever changing the way we look at predictors of success.

Why It’s Important

Bottom line... EQ is our ability to manage our emotions and get along with others. Since getting along in the workplace has a direct impact on our livelihood, it’s highly beneficial to understand our EQ strengths and weaknesses.

In his book Working With Emotional Intelligence – which focuses more specifically on career – Goleman takes the four fundamentals of EQ – a person’s potential for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and their ability to manage relationships – and breaks them down into a framework of “competencies,” both Personal and Social, to highlight the EQ skills that can lead to greater success on the job. Goleman’s framework is as follows:

Personal Competence

Self-Awareness – Knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions. The competencies in this category include:

Emotional Awareness – Recognizing one’s emotions and their effects

Accurate Self-Assessment – Knowing one’s strengths and limits

Self-Confidence – A strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities

Self-Regulation – Managing one’s internal states, impulses and resources. The competencies in this category include:

  • Self-Control – Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check
  • Trustworthiness – Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
  • Conscientiousness – Taking responsibility for personal performance
  • Adaptability – Flexibility in handling change
  • Innovation – Being comfortable with novel ideas and approaches

Motivation – Emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals. The competencies in this category include:

  • Achievement Drive – Striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence
  • Commitment – Aligning with the goals of the group or organization
  • Initiative – Readiness to act on opportunities
  • Optimism – Persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks

Social Competence

Empathy – Awareness of others’ feelings, needs and concerns. The competencies in this category include:

  • Understanding Others – Sensing others’ feelings and perspectives
  • Developing Others – Sensing others’ development needs and bolstering their abilities
  • Service Orientation – Anticipating, recognizing and meeting customers’ needs
  • Leveraging Diversity – Cultivating opportunities through different kinds of people
  • Political Awareness – Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships

Social Skills – Adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others. The competencies in this category include:

  • Influence – Wielding effective tactics for persuasion.
  • Communication – Listening openly and sending convincing messages
  • Conflict Management – Negotiating and resolving disagreements
  • Leadership – Inspiring and guiding individuals and groups
  • Change Catalyst – Initiating or managing change
  • Building Bonds – Nurturing instrumental relationships
  • Collaboration and Cooperation – Working with others toward shared goals
  • Team Capabilities – Creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals

I hope this framework of Emotional Intelligence can be helpful in beginning to assess your own strengths and areas for improvement. In my next post, Emotional Intelligence Part II, I’ll be digging deeper into this topic with a look at the 7 Signs of Strong EQ.

[Continue Reading: Emotional Intelligence Part II: 7 Signs of Strong EQ]


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Huffington Post, British online magazine – The Rouse, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts an online show called: Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life- on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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Community Discussion
STEVE Rogers

Yes but here only two competence

May 26, 2021