Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence: Applications in governance and administration

Work rules are in a constant state of flux with new yardsticks by which workers are being evaluated. In today’s corporate world it is increasingly being recognised that an impressive curriculum vitae, good credentials and technical expertise does not have the desired impact in someone with low emotional intelligence (EQ). The workplace is about people and relationships, and an employee with a high EQ as opposed to only a high IQ should be seen as a valuable asset.

Mayer and Salovey (1990) assert that general intelligence accounts for approximately ten to twenty per cent of life success, defined as academic achievement and occupational status.

In a similar vein, in “Emotional Intelligence” (1995), Goleman made strong claims about the contribution of emotional intelligence to individual success, and specifically to success in the workplace. He identified intellectual intelligence as contributing 20 per cent towards life success and intimated that the remaining 80 per cent may be attributable to emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is indeed significant in the workplace and is not only limited to it being a desirable quality in employees. Its uses are varied. Other examples of using EQ include the following:

Recruitment: EQ measurement is invaluable in selecting and recruiting “desirable, high-performance workers” ƒ

Predicting performance: Some companies are blending IQ testing with scientific measurement of EQ to predict job performance and direct workers to jobs where they are most likely to succeed. ƒ

Negotiation: Whether you’re dealing with a trading partner, competitor, customer or colleague, being able to empathize and be creative in finding win-win solutions will consistently pay off .ƒ

Performance management: 360-degree feedback is a common tool for assessing EQ. Knowing how your self-perception compares with others’ views about your performance provides focus for career development and positive behavioural changes

Peer relationships: Good networking skills are a staple of job effectiveness for the average worker. Networking has too often been associated with “using” other people, but a heightened EQ ensures a mutually beneficial approach to others.

The traditional view of the leader as unemotional, supremely rational and essentially mechanistic is based on the vertically integrated, hierarchical Industrial Age organisation. The leader does things; he or she makes plans and instructs others to carry them out.

Good leadership will be less about what the leader does, and more about what the leader is.

According to Davidson (2002:17-18), chief executive officers have always worked to understand others, but in the future, effective leaders will devote the same kind of effort to understanding themselves – that is, to personal leadership. Personal leadership essentially means having a heightened self-awareness – a deep understanding of one’s own behaviour, motivators and competencies – and having ‘emotional intelligence’ that allows them to accept, manage and use, rather than simply control or suppress, their emotional state.

Davidson (2002:18) affirms that ultimately, self-awareness will make tomorrow’s leaders more adaptable and that it will give them the flexibility to work across cultures, and the flexibility to deal with uncertainty, ambiguity and change.

Self-awareness will be key to effective leadership because it can have a strong impact on the perceptions of others in the organization and their willingness to follow the leader.




  • Emotional self-awareness. Reading one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact; using ‘gut sense’ to guide decision
  • Accurate self-assessment; knowing one’s strengths and limits
  • Self-confidence; a sound sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities.


  • Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control
  • Transparency: Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness
  • Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles
  • Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence
  • Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities
  • Optimism: Seeing the upside in events.

Social Awareness

  • Empathy: Sensing other’s emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking active interest in their concerns
  • Organizational awareness: Reading the currents, decision networks, and politics at the organizational level
  • Service: Recognizing and meeting follower, client, or customer needs.

Relationship Management

  • Inspirational leadership: Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision.
  • Influence: Wielding a range of tactics for persuasion
  • Developing others: Bolstering others’ abilities through feedback and guidance
  • Change catalyst: Initiating, managing, and leading in a new direction
  • Conflict management: Resolving disagreements
  • Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team building

Increasingly, it is noted that basic management and leadership skills are no longer enough to successfully lead organizations. Emotional intelligence is recognised as having an important role to play in management and leadership positions where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance. Consequently, emotional intelligence is becoming a soughtafter quality. Some authors on emotional intelligence are of the view that emotional competencies are twice as likely to contribute to organizational success and excellence than pure intellect and/or technical expertise alone. Accordingly, being aware of our emotions and how to manage them in ways that are appropriate and effective is an important skill for leadership, the organization, the team and the individual.

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own. Empathy facilitates prosocial or helping behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that people behave in a more compassionate manner.Empathy seems to have deep roots in our brains and bodies, and in our evolutionary history. Elementary forms of empathy have been observed in our primate relatives, in dogs, and even in rats. Empathy has been associated with two different pathways in the brain, and scientists have speculated that some aspects of empathy can be traced to mirror neurons, cells in the brain that fire when we observe someone else perform an action in much the same way that they would fire if we performed that action ourselves. Research has also uncovered evidence of a genetic basis to empathy, though studies suggest that people can enhance (or restrict) their natural empathic abilities.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, care giving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.


Importance of compassion


Compassion has an impact not only on the societal level, but also on a personal level: it forms kinder people. The admittance that you don’t know what is going on in everyone’s life and as such should give them the benefit of the doubt is at the basis of compassion and the stem of kind actions. Compassion is being part of everyone’s support network. Not necessarily a big part; a compassionate person can make someone’s day by complimenting them or offering them a smile. Leo Buscaglia once said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” A compassionate life is one in which you live like that every day; when you look at every person as someone who needs those little actions. Another reason why compassion helps people lead fulfilling lives is because compassion in its basic components is simply caring deeply about something or someone. Caring deeply about something gives your life purpose and use. A life full of love and deep relationships with people and activities you care a lot about is more fulfilling than one in which you breeze by life without caring deeply about anything. That empathy and thoughtfulness that compassion provides is rewarding and helps you think about and appreciate every aspect of your life more deeply. Compassion also helps a person fulfill a life that matters because it gives perspective to her own life and troubles. It makes you less self-absorbed and more focused on society and your role in it. Compassion can make you happier and can help you leave a positive mark on the world. Everyone deserves compassion because every life matters. And that is why compassion is so important-because my life matters just as much as everyone else’s. And thus compassionate people can stop thinking of their lives as more important than others and that fosters acceptance and forgiveness which adds up to a happier and more fulfilled person.


Compassion towards weaker section:


Compassion drives the civil servant to help people and ensure the welfare of people. Poor people, downtrodden, distressed women, farmers and children seek support of the civil servants & public services from them and compassion would help them. Compassion brings humanity in administration.

Compassion ensures a people-centric, humane, accommodative administration which is a pre-requisite for a multi-cultural polity like India with millions in distress. It can go long way in building trust in government.




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