Book Review: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Posted on: January 23, 2014

Emotional intelligence 2.0

This topic continues to generate an increasing amount of interest as the importance of emotional intelligence (aka soft skills) for leadership, management, marketing, selling and client relationship management becomes more generally known. There are many resources on this web site on the topic (use the search facility) and I provided a brief introduction and recommended some books here http://www.kimtasso.com/faq/emotional-intelligence-eq-important/ a while ago.

One of the advantages of this short and to the point book is that it comes with an authorisation code to undertake an on-line assessment of your emotional intelligence both at the start and once again once you have developed your skills. And it helps you to develop an EQ action plan. To have your emotional intelligence measured by qualified assessors would cost several times the cost of the book so it’s a good deal.

The other advantage of the book is that, after a brief introduction (including a review of the five core human emotions and how they alter in intensity), it focuses on providing 66 simple, practical exercises to help you develop your chosen area (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management) – whether building on existing strengths or addressing any weaknesses. There’s a huge amount of applied psychology included covering well known and unusual techniques spanning physical, emotional and cognitive approaches.

Yes, it is US flavoured. And it starts with a shark story – what better way to express the difference between an emotional panic response and a calm, reasoned one. There’s a very short science bit where the physical aspects of the limbic system (source of emotions) are explained. It explains that intelligence is the ability to learn and personality the style that defines our preferences.

There are helpful descriptions of people and scenarios in the workplace to demonstrate what each of the four core EQ skills look like – when they are high and when they are low. It encourages the reader to strive to improve their EQ skills by explaining the brain’s plasticity – its ability to change.

Whilst I have been working in the area of emotional intelligence for almost two decades, I did pick up some interesting facts and figures that I wasn’t aware of:

  • Only 35% of people tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen
  • Tested EQ alongside 33 other important skills and it subsumes the majority of them including time management, decision making and communication.
  • EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs and is the single biggest predictor in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence
  • 90% of the high performers are also high in EQ – people with high EQs make more money (average $29,000 more pa)
  • Self-management skills appear to increase steadily with age
  • Whilst women and men are roughly equal in their ability to recognise their own emotions, men have recently caught up in their ability to manage their emotions and the other skills – so the gender gap is closing
  • Middle managers have the highest EQ scores in the workforce, with CEOs, – on average – with the lowest. Yet the authors have found EQ skills are more important to job performance than any other leadership skill
  • American executives averaged 15 points lower than Chinese executives in self-management and relationship management
  • The average person has about 50,000 thoughts each day

The other interesting insight from the authors is that whilst they have generally observed an increase in EQ across the US population (from 13.7% with high EQ skills in 2003 to 18.3% in 2007) it actually declined in 2008 – the start of the recession.

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