EI Indeed Matters!

EI Indeed Matters!

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a complex construct which needs to be essentially introduced in organizations. To keep EI interventions going, HR leaders, training heads, and delivery faculty must update and reorient themselves to become competent wholesome professionals.


Emotional Intelligence (EI) remains as one of the buzzwords since the last decade in public as well as private Indian corporate houses. EI is catchy with the very word provoking multiple emotions in people. In view of its business appeal, many selftrained individuals claim and proclaim that they are EI trainers, coaches, and mentors. A sincere attempt to advice HR leaders and training professionals on matters pertaining to EI therefore becomes imperative. The term EI has been much used, misused, and abused by many academicians, practitioners, publicists, and others. EI is based on a long history of theory and research in the discipline of psychology. Further, there has been much confusion and controversy concerning the concept of EI in the academic field. In spite of conflicting definitions and models of EI followed by various types of measurement scales and tests, there is a consensus among scholars and practitioners that EI is matter of concern for organisations. Therefore, it is an indisputable fact that there is a business case for EI. 

The relevance of EI 

The historical roots to the concept of EI can be traced back to David Wechsler, Robert Thorndike, Howard Gardner, and others. However, the credit for EI must be given only to Salovey and Mayer, as they were the first to carry out scientific work in a systematic manner, and also devised EI as a nomenclature. Later, EI was popularised by Daniel Goleman, and through his scholarly works, he demonstrated a high level of EI with a practical orientation. It was illustrated that "emotionally intelligent people are capable of diagnosing and monitoring the internal environment of their own and others and show remarkable skill in managing their relationships with others." 

HR leaders may note that research which is driven practically has documented that EI:

• Is important for employees 

• Is the hidden advantage 

• Is one of the predictors of job performance 

• Improves psychological wellbeing in the workplace 

• Is a guiding tool for managerial effectiveness and leadership excellence? 


On the other hand, HR leaders also need to be aware that : 


• EI is neither straight forward nor is a simple concept or construct 


•There is a neuro-biological dimension to EI 


• A deeper understanding of how the brain works is an integral part of EI 

While there are many advantages of enhancing the EI of employees, it should be a cause of concern for HR leaders/training heads as to who is administering these interventions. The market space for training is flooded with several individuals who have the ability to speak English, and unfortunately, the same cannot be the criteria to deliver EI interventions. If someone is speaking excellent English, do we allow that person to perform surgery? The answer is an absolute no, since we look for his credentials as a qualified surgeon. It may be appreciated that EI interventions are complex psychological processes, and at times, will have negative consequences if administered poorly. Hence, it is  cardinal to be aware of the trainer's academic credentials.


HR leaders are required to reflect on the following questions: Can anybody just read and understand EI literature, which is in the discipline of psychology? Can anybody objectively understand and communicate conceptual EI and its applications with authenticity? What is the competency framework of a person who trains, coaches, and mentors for enhancing EI, and finally satisfy themselves fully with trainer's credentials? 


A plethora of EI development and intervention programmes are in place, and more so, in open source for many self-trained EI trainers. It has been observed that many such trainers package slides downloaded from Google, with stories and jokes, films and activities, randomly drawing some vague lessons, forcefitting these lessons as EI illustrations, and using words such as thoughts, feelings, beliefs synonymously and interchangeably. This has become very common in view of lack of meticulous monitoring, as also the lack of necessary scientific certifications in the domain of EI. Standards are of paramount importance in delivering EI lessons. As the learner's knowledge is understandably limited, the person who imparts knowledge can get away with whatever they deliver. Whose ignorance is whose bliss? The learner's ignorance is trainer's advantage. Due to the trainer's ignorance, organisational learning becomes a casualty. 


The overarching aim is to simply communicate that EI training is not the run-of-the mill interventions, and hence need to develop the check list for prospective trainers. HR leaders and training heads need to recognise the importance of EI training, and more so identifying who fits the bill. If HR leaders and training heads are ill equipped, it is not a bad idea to take the help of a consultant to check the value-add that a prospective trainer can bring.


The following pointers may function as triggers to EI trainers in setting standards for development interventions which will help in overcoming organisational dysfunction and enhancing the organisation's performance.

• Trainers need to ask themselves a fundamental question - Is there at least one single original and seminal book I have read on EI from page one to end? (An informal survey with 34 individuals who are in the space of HRD reveal that they found it difficult to complete reading Goleman's original work). How clear am I in  basic conceptual and theoretical aspects? Did I integrate the knowledge into my personality? 

• Is there any lacuna in me with reference to epistemological roots of EI? Can I translate my understanding into insights? Can I contextualise my knowledge to the target audience? 


• Am I following the ethical code and conduct while delivering EI interventions?

By designing and carefully implementing developed and well supervised EI competency models and EI development programmes, HR leaders and training heads could help employees develop their level of emotional literacy. This further implies the ability to understand and recognise emotions as they emerge within themselves and others at the place of work. Employees in particular can be encouraged to learn how emotions are networked within their emotional world, and how productive or unproductive their emotions are in dealing with their social transactions and relationships. 


To conclude 

• EI is a complex construct which needs to be essentially introduced in organisations. To keep EI interventions going, HR leaders, training heads, and delivery faculty must update and reorient themselves to become competent wholesome professionals. 


• It is important to recognise that EI is embedded with complicated heterogeneous streams of theoretical and applied research orientations, and hence, need to identify right kind of resource persons who have a sound understanding of the topic. Resource persons are required to have proper academic and scholastic background rooted in the discipline of psychology. 


•  A well formulated EI training programme brings transformation both inside aspects and relationships of participants and encourages cultivating a host of attributes that lead to positive improvements in their own selves and in the social world. 


• The offerings of EI training to HRD can be phenomenally beneficial. Indeed, organisations that have adopted EI competency models have demonstrated positive results.

Dr. K N Viswanatham is a Leadership Teacher and Clinical Psychologist. He comes with an experience of twenty years in teaching, training, consulting, and research. Dr. Vishwanatham has a Master's degree in Psychology from Andhra University, and, an M. Phil & Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from NIMHANS. He can be reached at


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