Positive Leadership

Optimizing your performance with emotional intelligence (with Daniel Goleman)

April 24, 2024 Jean-Philippe Courtois Season 9 Episode 2
Optimizing your performance with emotional intelligence (with Daniel Goleman)
Positive Leadership
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Positive Leadership
Optimizing your performance with emotional intelligence (with Daniel Goleman)
Apr 24, 2024 Season 9 Episode 2
Jean-Philippe Courtois

In today’s workplace, emotional intelligence is a must-have skill. Unlike IQ, it is something you can learn and develop.

In this episode, JP speaks to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, about his new book Optimal: How to Sustain Excellence Every Day.

This episode is packed with practical tools and techniques to help you develop your EQ and improve your performance. Listen now - and you can catch up with JP’s conversations with the guests mentioned in this week's episode here: 

Subscribe now to JP's free monthly newsletter "Positive Leadership and You" on LinkedIn to transform your positive impact today: https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/positive-leadership-you-6970390170017669121/

Show Notes Transcript

In today’s workplace, emotional intelligence is a must-have skill. Unlike IQ, it is something you can learn and develop.

In this episode, JP speaks to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, about his new book Optimal: How to Sustain Excellence Every Day.

This episode is packed with practical tools and techniques to help you develop your EQ and improve your performance. Listen now - and you can catch up with JP’s conversations with the guests mentioned in this week's episode here: 

Subscribe now to JP's free monthly newsletter "Positive Leadership and You" on LinkedIn to transform your positive impact today: https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/positive-leadership-you-6970390170017669121/

JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Hello, I’m Jean-Philippe Courtois. Welcome to another edition of Positive Leadership, the podcast that helps you grow as an individual, as a leader, and as a global citizen. My guest today, Daniel Goleman, earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Harvard, then spent over a decade as a science reporter for The New York Times, before becoming famous as the author of Emotional Intelligence, which has been translated into 40 languages and sold over 5 million copies. Since then, Emotional Intelligence has evolved into a must-have skill. I have been wanting to have Daniel on the podcast for so long. It was a fascinating conversation. In this episode, we talk in detail about his latest book, Optimal: How to Sustain Excellence Every Day, which builds on his earlier findings to understand how to master the skills of emotional intelligence to achieve high performance and satisfaction while avoiding burnout. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  The way the brain is designed, there is a very direct connection between your emotional state and your ability to take in information, understand it deeply, and respond nimbly. When you’re upset, you can’t think about other things, because emotion drives attention, and attention is the key, so I feel that one of the things we can do, no matter what our position, is manage attention, train it. It’s a skill, it’s a skillset, like your muscle, you know, every time you go to the gym and lift a weight, that muscle gets that much stronger. It’s the same with attention training, and by the way, mindfulness and every meditation is a form of training attention. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   This episode is packed with practical tools and techniques for strengthening your attention to enable you to stay focused and concentrated, and Daniel also shares some incredible insights into the importance of giving effective feedback, and why the best way to motivate someone is to speak from the heart to the heart. Hope you enjoy it. Here is Daniel. So I’d like to start with a bit of background information. You were born and raised in California, I think, just after the Second World War. Your parents were both college professors, your mother was also a social worker, and your father taught in humanities, so you can you paint us a picture of your formative years, what were some of the key moments for you growing up, and was there anything in your early development that inspired you to work in the field of psychology and to dedicate so much of your working life to studying and writing about emotions?  


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, I think, looking at my childhood, I grew up in a very – I don’t know how to say it – agrarian city. It’s a farm city in the Central Valley of California, a very boring place, however my parents had an active life of the mind. My mother, as you mentioned, was a social worker. My father was a really beloved teacher at the college where he taught, and I felt that teaching was a very generous profession because it helped other people get where they wanted to go. Then I left California, I went to college in the East Coast of the U.S., a very competitive place. I ended up at Harvard studying clinical psychology, and I thought this would be a good way to express what my parents had modeled for me, which was helping other people. Then when I had an opportunity to become a science journalist, I realized I could reach millions, not just one at a time, so I became a writer, and that's more or less the trajectory.  


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Okay. Could you tell us more, Daniel, about some of the core values maybe of your parents, as a family as well, you know, and maybe you can connect the dots later on in your life with some of the skills that you’ve been talking about eloquently in terms of emotional intelligence, maybe. Any insights on those foundational values, maybe? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, my mother had a motto, which is heard often, actually, which was “Make the world a better place.” 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   That's a nice one. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  There are truly a lot of values expressed in that. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  And my father had a philosophy that we should learn as much as we can about human nature, the good and the bad, so that we can help other people, so I think putting those two together said to me, oh, well, psychology seems to do that. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   So that was the past, so as you said, you graduated from Harvard, and then you took a job with a magazine, Psychology Today, which then paved the way for 12 years reporting for The New York Times, covering psychology and other related topics as well. I think it was at this time, when the overwhelming amount of research and data on emotions and the brain that you had gathered and written about, gave you the inspiration for the groundbreaking book, of course, Emotional Intelligence. What made you want to branch out on your own at this point, after 12 years, again, as a very, I would say, famous journalist? What happened, because you were already published, but it was a big risk for you to leave a secure job, right, on your own?   


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, actually, here was my dilemma, frankly. At The New York Times, I could write about what my editor thought I should write about, when I wrote a book, I could write about whatever I wanted to write about, and I thought that was not a choice, a no-brainer as we say in English, so I was happy to write a book. I would say about a third of the book, Emotional Intelligence, was rewriting things I had already done in The New York Timex. I had been covering emotions, particularly emotions in the brain. In 1990, I saw this article by my friend Peter Salovey, who is now the President of Yale University, he and John Mayer wrote an article called “Emotional Intelligence.” I had never seen the phrase before. I thought, that's so great, it sounds like an oxymoron, they don't go together, intelligence and emotion, but it means being intelligent about emotions, and I used that as the title and frame for the book. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   [PH 00:06:45] Wonderful history in terms of the inception point of your book. We obviously know that the book got a huge following and collective imagination of millions of people around the world, literally, changing people’s perceptions about the role that IQ and EQ play in our lives and the workplace, so did you ever imagine at the time that it would be that successful and still popular so many decades after you published in ’95? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  As you know, publishing a book is like playing roulette, you never know how it’s going to do before it comes out. I was pleasantly surprised by the success of the book. It’s now in over 40 languages. It’s been a bestseller in many countries around the world. The concept, because of articles in Harvard Business Review, has become promoted as a key to leadership. I originally was interested in getting what I thought of as emotional literacy into schools with children, and the book Emotional Intelligence is in large part about that, but there was one small chapter called “Managing with Heart” that got huge interest in the business community, and made me see there was an opening for what I conceive of as really adult education. If you go for children, you get them to age 12 maybe. If you get them in companies, you get them for the rest of their lives pretty much. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Which is wonderful. Reflecting on which you just said before, right, with your dad as a teacher, did he in some ways inspire you about that need to connect emotional skills in teaching as well, and in learning, by the way, with skills? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, you know, I think he modeled it implicitly, he never said anything about it explicitly. I kind of put that together, because I studied clinical psychology, and when you’re working with patients, emotions are really what you’re dealing with. People come because they’re anxious or they’re panicked or they’re depressed or they’re too angry, so you’re always dealing with it, so it was obvious to me from the get-go that we need to deal with emotions. I was told when I wrote the book Emotional Intelligence, “Well, you can't say the word ‘emotion’ in a business,” I was cautioned, and I realized that there was a kind of cultural norm in corporations, particularly, that emotions were not allowed, but you know, the brain doesn't pay attention to that. We always have emotions. We don't leave them at home. They come with us to the office, and they matter enormously, and if we don't deal with them intelligently, we’re in trouble. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah. I mean in a way, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:09:28], you could argue still today I guess some form of censorship when it comes to EQ in a workplace, and when I think about the way society as a whole, education with the famous SAT today, okay, for college, but also the workplace rely on IQ, it means that we have still not completely changed our priorities, right, and so why do you think it’s so hard for society to move away from the single-minded basically IQ approach to a more balanced IQ and EQ approach, and can you talk about different roles, of course, at a high level, IQ and EQ should play together? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Let me tell you how they actually interact. It’s very important to understand this. I think we are socialized during our school years and in our graduate training to value IQ, and there’s no question that if you take a large population, like my public high school had 2,000-plus students, and you gave an IQ test, that IQ would predict the lifelong salary level of that person because it’s an excellent way to gauge what profession that person could go into. Can they be a high-level executive? Well, you need to have an IQ about a standard deviation above the norm. Same for an advanced degree. However, this is where it gets tricky, so IQ is an excellent predictor of how far your cognitive abilities will get you, but once you’re an employee at say Google or a major corporation, everyone else is as smart as you are. That's where emotional intelligence starts to matter. Who will emerge as an outstanding leader, an outstanding team member, an outstanding performer? It has nothing to do with IQ differences, because there is a very high round effect for that. It has everything to do with how you manage yourself and how you relate to others, and that's emotional intelligence. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I’d like to go back to some of the roots maybe, if there’s any, with some of the most revered philosophers in the past. Aristotle, as an example, discussed the concept of phronesis, practical wisdom, which involved the ethical and emotional aspects of decision-making. Plato [INDISCERNIBLE 00:11:53] as well, distinguished three parts – the rational, the spirited, and the appetitive. Probably, emotional intelligence, I would argue, should be connected with the concept of the spirited part, I guess. Nietzsche as well is known for his critique of traditional moral values, but he emphasized the power and value of emotions and instincts. So clearly, emotional intelligence has been around in many ways, without saying it, in some of the foundational philosophical models, so can you describe today in 2024, Daniel, how important is it, from your point of view, to basically develop that new muscle for all of us? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  You know, philosophers have sensed this for centuries, because human nature has not changed, the design of the brain has not changed in 1,000 years, and I base my understanding of emotional intelligence on how the brain works, a contemporary look. We don't need philosophy, we have science now, we have neuroscience, and neuroscience tells us that there are four domains that are very interconnected and very important, and these are domains of emotional intelligence. The first one is self-awareness, you know what you’re feeling, you know how it’s shaping your perceptions and thoughts and your impulse to act. By the way, one definition of maturity is extending the gap between impulse and action, so that's self-awareness. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Then managing emotions, which allows you to extend that gap, and it’s not just handling the upsets, but also staying positive, achieving your goals, maybe we can talk about that in a bit. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  And then there is not just reading yourself, which I’ve been describing, but reading others, tuning into the person in front of you, empathy. There are three kinds of empathy, very different, and the leader needs all of them. Cognitive empathy, I understand how you think and the language you use to explain reality to yourself, I can use those same terms to message you effectively. The second is emotional empathy, a very different part of the brain, and that means I know how you feel, I sense it too, and that allows a leader to be on target in what they say and when they say it and how they say it. And then the third I think is really important, very often ignored, it’s called empathic concern, typically. It means I not only know how you think and feel, I care about you. This is what develops trust. This is what lets a leader influence and guide and coach. This is what makes a leader someone we like, and then putting that all together to have effective leadership relationships. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   So in the model of EI and leadership excellence that Daniel has developed, there are four key domains – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management – but nested within each of those domains are 12 competencies, learnt and learnable skills that allow outstanding performance as a leader. 

These include empathy, positive outlook, and self-control. All these skills are important, so if you want to improve your emotional intelligence skills, where do you start? What improvement might help you get there? Daniel recommends doing an emotional social competence inventory first, to understand how people you interact with on a daily basis perceive you, both in how you manage yourself and how you manage your relationships.  


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  It’s a 360 that lets you choose people to analyze you, you don't know who says what, it’s confidential, but you use that profile across behaviors that reflect the 12 competencies of outstanding performers, and once you see where you are on that, you might be wonderful at managing your emotions and terrible at adaptability, you might freeze when things change, you might be too rigid, or you might not keep your eye on the goal, you might be too distracted, those are very different competencies, and so I’d say it’s quite individual. When you get to the relationship management, the fourth part, a lot of executives don't bother coaching people, and that's important. You have to realize you’re grooming leadership of this organization for the future. It’s part of your responsibility. You’re not just guiding and influencing, that's important too, of course, but it’s a separate competency. So anyway, you need to see what is your profile. Are you a great team member, or not, and the people who work with you day-in and day-out know, but they won’t tell you face-to-face. They’ll tell you when they’re anonymous and rating you. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yes. Well, it’s great, great, great advice again to all of us, Daniel. Now I’d like to go back to what you mentioned before, because you’ve been a practitioner all of your life yourself, right, and I know that you have been using meditation and mindfulness as well, so I was very interested, actually, to read of the work that you and neuroscientist Richard Davidson did on the benefits of mindfulness. I think you listed four real benefits, so can you elaborate on those four benefits, and the way you do that as well? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, I don't recall what the four are, but I will talk about some benefits, because meditation, as I said – belief system aside, irrelevant, there are many belief systems – but you’re really training attention, and attention is the key to being in that optimal state, the state where you are productive, you feel satisfied with what you’re doing, you’re engaged, you feel good, you’re position, you’re at your best, so you can get there by focusing on what you’re doing right now, and focusing, paying full attention, is a mental skill that you can improve, just as you would strengthen a muscle. Can I share a way to do that? 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, please, I’d love you to walk us through your 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, this is a kind of basic attention training, and you find a place where you won’t be interrupted for a while. I’ve talked to some people who say, “You know, I’ve got four kids, there’s a never a place where I’m not interrupted.” Find one, and find a time in your schedule, and then if you want, you can close your eyes, and bring your full awareness, your full attention to your breathing. It’s that simple. Breathe in, breathe out, and notice the space in between breaths, and then bring your attention to the next breath. Don't try to control your beath, just let it be easy and natural. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Let it go, um-hum.  


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Breathe in, breathe out. As your mind wanders, and you notice it wandered, then bring it back to your breath. That is the moment of mindfulness, that's the moment that strengthens the circuitry for paying full attention, so it’s something you can do. It’s that simple. You might do it for five minutes, if you’ve never done it, or try to extend it. We find a dose-response relationship. The more you do it, the greater the benefits, and the benefits include being fully able to focus at will on what’s important right now and ignore distractions, and Lord knows, today there are more distractions than ever. Everyone carries a cell phone, and on your cell phone are things that interest you most, and you can put it aside during your meditation, and train and strengthen your attention. Another thing that you get as a benefit is that the same circuitry that pays attention calms you, so you end up calm and clear and able to engage fully in whatever you have to do next.  

JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Oh, wonderful. Is it something that you keep doing like every day or a couple times a week or what is the routine you have? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  If you go to the gym once or twice a year, it’s not going to do you any good. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Same with this mental gym. I encourage doing it daily, if you can fit it into your schedule, or as much as you can for as long as you can. I do like an hour now every day. I’ve been doing it for years and years, so you need to build up to that, but I think that it’s important to do it as often as you can, preferably every day, because that means you’re actually strengthening that circuitry. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, that's great advice for sure, Daniel. Now I’d like to shift gears, and I’d love to ask you about our latest book, which I found is really thought-provoking. The book’s overarching message is about the optimal state, the state you characterize as having a very satisfying day, one where we feel we did well in ways that matter to us, we were in a mood that facilitates what we did, and felt ready to take on whatever challenges came along. In contrast, you discuss the flow state, which is infinitely harder to achieve and is harder to sustain for long periods. So can you talk about the optimal state and the flow state, the difference between the two of them, and why is it better to seek optimal living and working over striving for flow? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  I think the reasons become obvious once you look more deeply into each. The flow state was discovered by researchers at the University of Chicago, who asked people – you know, ballerinas, chess champions, neurosurgeons – tell us about a time you outdid yourself, you were just fantastic, even you were surprised at how well you did. And they all didn't matter, if it was surgery or a chess game, it didn't matter, the internal state was the same, and that's what they called flow. It’s the state where you’re fully focused, remember, I was talking about that. It’s a state where whatever it is you do at your best, at your very best, your self-consciousness disappears, time speeds up or goes slowly, it means you’re in an altered state. The problem with flow, which sounds great, is you can’t make it happen.




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  It happens to you, it’s like grace falling from the sky, you know, that one time you outdid yourself, and if you hold yourself to that as your standard, you’re only going to be self-critical, and that doesn't help you at all. So that's why we say, look, you can get into a state of high performance by paying full attention, and that high-performance state, this comes from research at Harvard Business School where 12,000 journal entries were analyzed of people’s workdays, and they found that the best state, as I said, is one where you perform well, you’re highly productive, you are very engaged and committed. This means, of course, lower turnover. People who feel committed to what they’re doing don't quit. You feel good, you feel connected. It’s a state where you can say, “Boy, that was a good day,” and everybody knows what I mean by that, and it’s achievable, so you don't have to be self-critical. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I think it’s very interesting, Daniel, because in a way, I mean this book has been written almost 30 years after Emotional Intelligence, right? 




JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   So it reminds me of a critique being done these days by some neuroscientist on kind of the moral injunction, I think, to all of us, to become the best version of ourselves every single day of our lives. I mean we feel that in many, like in social media, podcasts, gurus, and so on, “Hey, JP, you have to be the very best and excel every single moment of your life,” and it’s not human, at the end of the day. So my question to you is with time and reflection, are you now more cautious about pushing people to strive for perfection with the flow, and instead advise us to reach what you call the “good enough” practice in our lives with the optimal? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  You know, you’re really talking about people putting themselves on the track for burnout, by expecting every moment of every day, I’m going to be my absolute best. Nobody’s like that. We want to do a good enough, we want to have a good day at work, for example, or a good day with our spouse, or a good day with our kids, but you can’t do it all the time, and the recipe for burnout starts with constant stress, and people often stress themselves by holding themselves to too high a standard and being self-critical, your self-talk, as we call it. What goes on in your head is very important here, because if you’re putting yourself down, if you’re criticizing yourself, it actually evokes a negative internal state, not a positive one. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   No, I love – sorry, keep going, Daniel. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, no, and if you do that all the time, you get to a state of emotional exhaustion, which is the prelude to burnout, and that, of course, leads many people to quit. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, and I see so many times such unfortunate, I would say, outcomes, Daniel, both with people at work, entrepreneurs, who are giving it all, but so much that they forget they are humans, right, and they burnout, and they go clearly too far with their lives, so I think it’s great advice to become more nuanced, and even actually the word “optimal” I think has to be well defined, because I would argue that some people might understand optimal as like, wow, still have a super high bar, right? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, optimal is not necessarily perfect. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  It’s good enough, it’s pretty good. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   It’s good enough, yes. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  And perfection, holding yourself to perfection, being a perfectionist means that you’re self-critical quite a lot. You don't see your good side, you only think about what you didn't do, but that's not helpful. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, so let’s continue this discussion. Your research has shown that successful leaders show strengths in self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, and again, the book you published after your very popular book on Emotional Intelligence, on What Makes a Leader, really struck a chord with so many people around the world, and I’m a strong believer, by the way, that many people have hidden leadership capabilities that are waiting to be unleashed by [INDISCERNIBLE 00:26:48], by some meaningful discovery of your life, so what is your own definition of leadership, and how would you describe what makes a positive leader, kind of two questions in one? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, consider this, leadership is the art of getting work done well by other people. Every leader depends on how their people do, and some leaders drive them, and they don't realize that constant upset or stress is bad for people, they don't realize the body is designed to rest and recover. You know, we need a period every day where we can restore ourselves, we can’t take constant stress, but some leaders, unfortunately, try to get results by stressing people continually. Other leaders get the same results by inspiring people, motivating them, guiding them, which is a much better motivational system. We find, for example, that if you used a human resources lens to look at that optimal day, you see that engagement is high, turnover is low, satisfaction is high, all of the indicators are in the right direction, but people don't experience that way, companies look through a lens that sees it that way. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   That's right, so let me build on that and come back to my question about what makes a positive leader. You know, I have had on my podcast, Daniel, people I’m sure you know super well, like Martin Seligman, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:28:24], Kim Cameron as well, and obviously, all of them contributed to positive psychology, but also defining some of the foundation of what is called positive leadership these days, so what is your definition of a positive leader? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  I would say a positive leader is one who is emotionally intelligent, who knows what they’re feeling, manages their feelings well, stays focused on the goal, despite the distractions of the day, tunes into other people accordingly, and I think that staying positive and a positive attitude is key to being a leader who gets the best out of people in the best way. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, that's a great definition, I love it, Daniel. I more than agree with you. Now just adding a little bit more to the discussion, there has been come confusion about what it is to be positive versus being nice or kind, so can you clarify what is at the core of positivity over just being nice and kind? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  So being emotionally intelligent doesn't mean being nice. This is a common misconception. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  It means telling the truth in a way people can hear it. It might be a hard truth. One of the common errors in the business place is giving performance feedback rarely and doing it in a way which demoralizes someone. They feel they’re just being criticized, and their best parts aren’t even recognized. 

So the advice I would give a leader is give feedback in the moment, when you can. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Not in front of other people, you know, because it might be embarrassing, but still, and also separate the person from the behavior. Very important. You want to help a person see that when they do x, it has this consequence, why it would be better if they do z, and by the way, you’re excellent at a, b, and c, so I’m sure you can do this. Also, what we found is that organizations that have an emotionally intelligent culture offer effective ways to improve these abilities, that's one thing that sets them apart, and also in performance reviews, it’s not just did you get results. How did you get those results? Did you do it in the worst way or the best way? And also, we find it’s important to have someone on the business side saying “this skillset matters,” because that will have an impact throughout the whole culture. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I just want to pick up on what Daniel said there, because it is so, so true. If I reflect on the course of my years as a leader, the ability to tell the truth in a way people can hear, and that builds relationship and does not diminish it, is key. In the episode with Kim Cameron, he shared some great supportive communication techniques around how to deliver feedback, in particular, that you might find very useful. Something else I have recognized is that it’s critical for a leader to connect the core values of the culture of the company you work for, and to make it fun, so that when you coach people, you do it in the context of those values. You talk about the how and why you see it happening, and you help people realize the alignment and understanding of what that value means in real life, as you work together. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  The best way to motivate someone is to speak from the heart to the heart, to understand the core value, what’s the principle, what’s the good we’re doing in the world, what do I care about in terms of our mission, and what do you care about, and can I inspire you that way. That gets the best effort out of people, absolutely. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I love, love, love your passion for getting the best out of people and growing them. I was also interested, Daniel, to read in your book that over the years, you have sought to expand on the definition of some of the fundamental EI competencies. You talk about how you’ve come to relabel some key competencies and have opened up the meaning to incorporate more nuance. One key competency, positivity, that we keep discussing together, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:32:50], links nicely with Carol Dweck’s growth mindset theory, that you know, of course, very well. She argues that how we think about our abilities can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so if we have a rigid fixed mindset, we take our failures and setbacks to be due to an innate lack of ability and just give up, right? So can you discuss your process of relabeling and broadening out your definitions of the EI competencies? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  The EI competencies were derived from independent studies of outstanding performers, and what made them so good, and then when I wrote about emotional intelligence and the four domains that we discussed, I saw that a set of these competencies embedded very neatly in each of those four domains, and over the years, I’ve thought differently about some of these competencies. For example, self-control, emotional self-control is what I originally called the ability to manage upset, but I don't like self-control, because every emotion is a message of importance to us, so self-control might be misinterpreted as denying. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  That's not what I mean. I have changed that now to emotional balance, because I think that more points to what I’m talking about. Then in terms of the self-management domain, I saw a great correspondence between achieving your goals and grit, for example, which is now a hot, new idea, which maybe we can discuss a little.




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  And I saw that positivity was key to Duckworth’s idea of a growth mindset, seeing that I can change, and you can change for the better, and helping people change, so over the years, I’ve seen correspondence to other concepts that different people have put forth, and I embrace them. 

JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, no, so let’s build on what you just talked about, Daniel. You know, I just had, actually, Angela Duckworth on my podcast, I just had it, so the episode was just out just recently, and obviously, a lot you talk about, the connectedness you see between the grit for achievement on one end, that of course she has been defining, and the positivity for the growth mindset. Are they interchangeable skills, in a way, or are they different kinds of skills? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Yeah, I think it’s different labeling of very similar skills, and by the way, I have to say there is a very important limitation to self-management competencies like growth mindset for yourself, or grit, which will help you get where you want to go, and that is for leadership. If you have grit, say, but you don't have empathy, then you’re in trouble as a leader.  




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  And the grit concept has nothing to do with empathy, it’s all about persistence.




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Working toward your goal, so I see the emotional intelligence model as a more holistic way of talking about what’s positive in leadership, because it includes not just what’s going to get me there. I have a friend who is an executive coach, who coaches C-suite people, she says, “Everyone in the C-suite has very good striving for achievement, that's how they go tin the C-suite, but if they don't have empathy, they’re in trouble.” I do a lot of coaching around that. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   No, it’s a great clarification, actually, of what we are talking about. You know, in the positive leadership, you know that for many years, Daniel, there is this framework which is kind of called the three circles of positive leadership – it’s about me, me and others, and me and the world – and within each circle, I’ve been trying to practice it myself, what I’ve been calling, for the sake of a better name, the nine powers of positive leadership, positive behaviors, right, such as building confidence, generating positive energy, and having a positive impact in the world for the third circle, and I’ve seen using those powers creates a lot of positive ripple through teams, in my organization, company, also in my foundation with youngster entrepreneurs. So I know that in the work you’ve done, there is this concept of the circle of caring as well, so I’d like you to kind of connect the dots maybe a bit, and describing this idea of the circle of caring, and the way it helps, in a way, on this second circle of me and others, right, and the way I can enable that power. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Yeah. Maybe I can make the point by demonstrating another practice 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yes, please, please. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  With Richard Davidson, the neuroscientist of Wisconsin, a wrote a book looking at all of the good research on attention training or meditation, if you want to call it that, and what we found is that the circle of caring, which is a common practice in many traditions, has a brain effect rather remarkably soon. The brain wants to care, it turns out, and it wants to expand the circle, so here’s a very simple practice. You can add it in the breath meditation, if you want, you can do it right there. So you’re very calm and very clear, and your eyes are closed, and you say to yourself, ah, you think of people in your life that have been kind to you, that you’re grateful toward, and you wish them well. You say, “May you be safe, happy, healthy. May you be free from suffering. May you thrive in life.” You just repeat that silently with that person or people in mind, and then you think about yourself and you say, “May I be safe, happy, healthy, free from suffering. May I thrive in life.” You say that a few times, and then you think of people you love, who are dear to you, and you say, “May you be safe, happy, healthy, free from suffering, and may you thrive.” Then you extend it to acquaintances, people you don't know that well, people in your region, in your neighborhood, “May you all be safe, happy, healthy, free from suffering, and may you thrive,” and then you extend to everyone everywhere. That's the big one. That's the world. “May you all be safe, happy, healthy, free from suffering,” and it turns out that that exercise, if you repeat it daily, like I said you should do with the attention training, expands your ability for compassion, for generosity, for helping other people. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Um, and I think it’s been measured, right, by research by neuroscientists. I heard about the research, John, studying the neural paths, actually, that are changing over the years, if you do it regularly. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Exactly, so that's an exercise for the caring part of the brain, if you will. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yes, that's wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing actually day-to-day practices which are so, so, I would say necessary for all of us. Now I would like to talk about, you know, I know it’s hard to make that connection from that practice you just talked about to measurement of EI, because when  you work with companies, businesses, and so on, always people in the C-suite want to measure everything, right, the KPIs of success. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Right, of course, sure. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   So I know that you have been working with your colleagues, Richard Boyatzis, on what you call I think the ESCI, the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory, which is a 360 degree of a person’s interpersonal skills. Can you describe how it works, and how you advise people to measure or not, actually, EI? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  So the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory, it’s a 360 ESCI. You can get it from Korn Ferry, it’s a global firm, and it’s in many languages. Richard Boyatzis, who teaches at Case Western’s Business School, and I have been friends since graduate school, actually, and we codesigned this as a way to help develop leadership. It’s not, by the way, a way to evaluate emotional intelligence in a company. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  I would look for harder measures, if I wanted to do that. I’d look at turnover, I’d look at engagement, I’d look at satisfaction, things that you already have measures for, standard measures for, and you know engagement predicts profit and growth in a company, it’s very important, and as I said, a good day, that optimal day, includes engagement, people who are focused on what they’re doing and they feel satisfied, so I’d look for hard indicators of emotional intelligence, rather indirect. I don't actually endorse any direct measure of emotional intelligence, and I’ll tell you why. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Emotional intelligence is not a photograph, it’s a video. Anybody can improve. So if you take snapshot of how someone is right now, it doesn't mean they’re like that forever. It means you have a job, which is to help that person get better. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Yeah, exactly. I wouldn't endorse any particular so-called emotional intelligence measure for many reasons, one being many of them are self, you know, I report them myself, and we have cognitive biases. Either we’re trying to look good, or we don't know what our blind spots are. How can you believe the data?


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yes, yeah, no, I love it. Let’s discuss a little bit more actually, again, what we call enterprise-wide culture. I mean I do believe, you know, working with, I would say [INDISCERNIBLE 00:43:02] the same company for almost 40 years, Microsoft, right? 




JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   That I learned really first-hand that culture matters, it matters a lot in the way you shape it, in the way you make it real, in the way you embody it, in the way you let it go or not, and so love to hear you, Daniel, during the work you’ve done with large organizations as well, some of the best ways you’ve seen organizations of any size really nurturing their culture and favoring that emotional intelligence across the entire enterprise. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  So let’s start with the individual and work up. Ask yourself, of all the bosses I’ve had or heard about, which one do I like the most and which do I hate, and why, and then that gives you a picture of emotional intelligence on one hand, or lack of it on the other, and there are studies that show people get hired for business expertise or intelligence, they get fired for lacking something in emotional intelligence, and this is globally true. So given that you want to have good bosses, and not bad bosses in your company, how do you do that? What do you offer your people? Well, first of all, you let it know when you’re recruiting that this matters here. people [PH 00:44:23] sell smart, for one thing, and you also want to let people know that we value this, and as I said, it helps if someone on the business side who is respected and influential says so. Empathy is important here, emotional intelligence, and then help them have a program that helps them get better, and by the way, Boyatzis is just coming out with a major book, an academic book, which describes the approach that works for this. Then finally, it’s important that a company also not just say it matters, but shows that they care and will help people develop. 

So you might give people the ESCI or a 360 that identifies strengths and limits, and then help them have a program that helps them get better, and by the way, Boyatzis is just coming out with a major book, an academic book, which describes the approach that works for this, and I’ll give you the steps.  


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, it would be wonderful. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  First of all, as I mentioned in passing, you want to know what the person cares about. Sometimes, in my trade in psychology, it’s called motivational interviewing, but you want to know where does this person want to go in life, and that means what motivates them. Secondly, they need an accurate assessment, so you maybe give them the ESCI 360 or some way of evaluating where they’re good and where they’re not so good by people who know them well, not by themselves, and you want them to choose the people who evaluate them, but those people know it’s anonymous, they won’t be identified, so they can be totally honest and frank. Then you look at that diagnosis, the person looks at it, and then connects the dots. What improvement could I make that would help me get where I want to go? That's highly motivating. Then you want to help that person think of a particular sequence, a behavioral sequence that they can reinforce in themselves. One of the bad habits of executives and managers and leaders is poor listening. Someone comes in, starts talking, and the leader takes over the conversation – doctors do it, parents do it, teachers do it – and it means you don't really understand the other person. 




DANIEL GOLEMAN:  So if you want to get better, you say, “Okay, when someone comes in, I’m going to listen to them and say what I think they mean, and then say what I think.” That's a big behavior change. Please, do this. Cross your arms, just cross your arms. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yes, okay, I’m crossing my arms. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Everybody cross your arms, and now cross them the other way, with the other arm on top. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I know, it’s unnatural. It’s odd. 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  This feels uncomfortable, and that's what it’s like to change a habit. We’re talking about habit change, and so at first, it might be awkward, but the more you practice, the easier it gets, so sustained practice is a very important part of this, and you want the organization to help you. I know some organizations, for example, have monthly meetings where people talk about their goal, problems they’ve had. Sometimes it helps to have a coach or a learning partner who will help you through hard times. That changes your brain, that's very important, it’s deep learning, at the neural level, and that will stay with you through life. Boyatzis has asked people seven years later, to go through an evaluation where they work now, and people don't even know what they tried to change, and he finds that what they changed years ago has still stayed [INDISCERNIBLE 00:48:06] doing it. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, wonderful sharing of wisdom, Daniel, which I can relate to as well, because I think all of our organizations would be a much better [PH 00:48:18] help just applying some of those principles across their management teams at scale. Now I would like to point to a topic which is always at the core of the [INDISCERNIBLE 00:48:30] discussion purpose. Many of the discussions [INDISCERNIBLE 00:48:30] had focused on this idea of finding and connecting [PH 00:48:38] world to a higher, an individualized purpose and meaning. As you’ve discussed in your book, meaningful work helps us get into and stay in our optimal zone, so you talk actually about the small p and the big P of purpose as well, so I’d love you to ask about how important purpose and meaning is to us, finding and consistently being in an optimal zone, and how would you coach our listeners to shape their own purpose? How to do that? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  As you say, purpose is absolutely important, because it’s inspiring. It’s a higher purpose, it’s a higher sense of what we’re doing. How are we helping the world become a better place, in some sense, and can you as a leader communicate that in a way where the listener knows you mean it, because you feel it too, and can you communicate in a way where it lifts that other person, and that's what’s so important, I think. So I think being an inspiring leader means that you get the best motivation out of a person, because they feel what they’re doing has meaning, has purpose. Very important. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   So how would you help people defining their own purpose, what would be the practical advice? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  Well, this is interesting. 



DANIEL GOLEMAN:  You know, I started the book Emotional Intelligence talking about a bus driver in New York City. This is a guy who, when you got on his bus, he looked at you, he spoke to you, he talked to everyone on the bus when they were on it, and you got off feeling better. Only when he died, and his obituary was in The New York Times, did I find out he had fans. His name was Govan Brown. He got 3,000 letters of commendation, not one complaint, and he saw what he did on the bus as part of his purpose. He was a pastor of a church, and he saw himself as tending to his flock. It had nothing to do with the mission statement of the New York Transit Authority, getting many people to where they want on time. It had everything to do with what had meaning for him, and it was contagious. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   Yeah, I love the story, I’ve read the book as well, it’s a wonderful story, and from time-to-time, you meet such people in very different places, and I love connecting with such people. You feel it in the first second, actually. 




JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   We are coming almost to the end now, Daniel. We are at a very exciting time when it comes to technology and innovation. Of course, being somewhat working in tech over the years, you see where I’m going to, right? I want to talk about AI a little bit, artificial intelligence, and I’m interested in your thoughts on AI and its capabilities, and the way AI could help people upskill in the area of emotional intelligence. I recently had Martin Seligman on my podcast, and he’s using AI with some Chinese students who developed what he called “Ask Martin” with an AI chatbot, responding like Martin, actually, to his patients or people [INDISCERNIBLE 00:51:47]. What is your own view and opinion on what AI can do or cannot do when it comes to emotional intelligence? 


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  It’s a very important question. I actually just asked readers of my LinkedIn newsletter that question, I wanted to know their experience. My friend Marshall Goldsmith, who is a famous executive coach, just made an AI avatar of himself, and I think it’s on one hand exciting, and on the other hand, I have extreme doubts. The doubts are these: an AI is language-learning program, it actually has no emotion. It can’t be self-aware, emotionally, it doesn't have emotion. It can’t manage emotions, it doesn't have them. It can mimic empathy very well, probably, but does it have the same resonance as a real human leader? I suspect not, and I think that there are intangibles in leadership that AI may never replace. Maybe it will help you learn emotional intelligence to some extent. I don't think it will inspire you. I don't think that it will motivate you in the best way. It might try to mimic someone who does that. I don't know that it will feel the same. It’s an open question. Right now, I’m a little doubtful. 


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   I hear you, and obviously, we are still early on, but it will be wonderful to see the feedback of your readers, but also the people who practice or use AI as a crutch or a therapist even, actually, in some places in the world. My very last question, Daniel, as someone which I love reading the books of and also have been meeting once, actually, in my life, Clayton Christensen, in his famous book, How Will You Measure Your Life, discusses the importance of investing in relationships with the people who matter the most, and he said, “Don't worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved. Worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is where the real meaning comes.” So Daniel, to close this episode together, I’d like to ask you the way you define success in your own life.  What does success look like for you?  


DANIEL GOLEMAN:  That's interesting, so I think that he’s quite right, that it’s the people you’ve helped along. As a writer, you know, I come in, I lecture to companies and so on, then I leave, so occasionally, someone comes up to me and says, “You know, you changed my life with that book.” That is a reward, and I think that our personal relationships matter enormously in what is satisfying in life, ultimately, but helping people in one way or another I think is the very best way to satisfaction.  


JEAN-PHILIPPE COURTOIS:   That's a wonderful way to close this session, so much wisdom and so many wonderful practices, speaking from the heart to the heart. If you look around, you will see that the most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way, they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. 

It’s what helped them successfully coach teams, manage stress, deliver feedback, and collaborate effectively with others. In fact, emotional intelligence is the largest single predictor of success in the workplace. It is critical that we take the time to focus on building up our AI skills, so we can help connect with and lead others more effectively, and learn how to manage our own emotional state. I’m Jean-Philippe Courtois. You have been listening to the Positive Leadership Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, then please do leave us a comment or a five-star rating or share it with many friends. Next episode, I will be talking to Dr. Caroline Leaf, creator of the Neurocycle Method, about how to use your mind to change the brain and find mental peace. Make sure you subscribe, so that you can list as soon as it comes out. Thanks so much for listening, and goodbye.