1.2 Emotional Intelligence


The position of either leader or follower does not hold power. Rather, it is how we respond when we are in these roles, based on our emotional intelligence, that gives power to each role. Emotional intelligence has been described as the “ability to monitor and discriminate among emotions and to the use the data to guide thought and action” (Goleman, 2020).

Goleman (2020), a researcher who has completed  work spanning decades in the area of work performance, studied the importance of emotional intelligence in achieving personal excellence. He defines emotional intelligence in greater depth, stating that it is composed of abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope (Goleman, 2020). Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence contains five skills that comprise personal and social competencies (see Table 1.2 below). The three skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation relate to the individual’s personal competence. The remaining skills of empathy and social skills are classified as social competencies (Liu & Boyatzis, 2021).

Table 1.2 Emotional Intelligence Skills and Competencies (Data Source: Table based on material from Sadri, 2012.)


Skill Area




Knowing one’s self


Managing one’s self


Sentiments and passions that facilitate the attainment of goals



Understanding of others and compassion toward them

Social skills

Expertise in inspiring others to be in agreement

Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence

As a nurse, gaining emotional and social intelligence is  critical to expanding leadership capacity. Emotional Intelligence contributes to achievement of effective management in healthcare (Prezerakos, 2018). You encounter  many different types of people, both colleagues and patients. It is extremely important to be self-aware, reflect on your feelings, and think about how emotions can influence both actions and relationships (or social interactions). That is, you must learn to reflect on your clinical experiences and think of how you could have changed a situation by using self-awareness or mindsight. It is essential for nurses to improve social and emotional skills (Prezerakos, 2018).  See Applied Learning Activity 1.2 to complete an assessment of your Emotional Intelligence.

Applied Learning Activity 1.2 Emotional Intelligence

  • Click here to complete the Emotional Intelligence self-assessment test.
  • Complete this online survey:  the online system calculates the results for you.
  • Review your EI score.
  • Reflect on your findings.

Next: 1.3 Spotlight Application


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Leading Change in Health Systems: Strategies for RN-BSN Students Copyright © 2023 by Kathy Andresen DNP, MPH, RN, CNE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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