Emotional Intelligence: Honing Human Competence

Updated: Mar 21, 2018

Recently, there have been several news stories about the future of “Bots” and how machines are being developed to take on repetitive (aka boring) tasks. Many of these articles regale the possibilities of applying science and industry. In the June 2015 Harvard Business Review, Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby authored an article that describes “how to manage the man-machine collaboration”. Their advice rallies readers to address activities which are difficult to codify. The essential question returns to the quest to understand what makes us human. What strengths do we have that cannot be “designed into” robots?



The asset that makes us human over robots is our neural limbic system that drives social relationships. Some people might describe it as that feeling deep inside your inner recesses which warns you of danger or encourages you forward.


During the 1990’s Daniel Goleman brought Emotional Intelligence (EI) into the popular business vernacular. He defined EI as “the capacity to reason about emotions and the use of emotions to enhance thinking.” I was never comfortable with his definition or interpretation of the concepts. Over the last few years there has been a great deal of research that adjusts the perception of EI to be more of a procedural paradigm. Specifically, leadership theory has begun to describe EI as how people view and react to the world around them.


Strong leaders are described by the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 tool by how they:

- Perceive themselves

- Express themselves

- Interact with others

- Make decisions

- Handle stress


As a diagnostic procedure, the results of the EQ-i 2.0 tool helps people identify their strengths, their weaknesses, and those areas they wish to make stronger as part of their professional development plan. The powerful part of this process is helping leaders learn how to collaboratively leverage the strengths of the people around them to create a team which is significantly stronger than the individual elements.


David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Journal identifies five practical steps that will help you improve your limbic brain activity and hone your “human skills toolbox”:


1) Be Fair – a fair environment creates a synergy enabling people to collaboratively resolve challenging situations.

2) Take a Social Approach -- focus on the process and diversity of ideas that will drive desired results

3) Sleep – sufficient rest results in fewer mistakes and enables the brain to conserve energy, merge thought activities, and enables innovative problem solving.

4) Do Not Multitask – working on several simultaneous tasks actually causes the work to take longer with lower quality results

5) Open Your Mind to Possibilities – just because that is the way it has always be done, doesn’t mean that it is the only means to achieve the objective

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