You must have read about the value of emotional intelligence, and how you need to sharpen your EQ. While EQ has been debated over its effectiveness as a predictor of job success, it is proved that EQ accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs.
Emotional Intelligence plays a huge role in helping us understand and manage emotions. The multiple applications of Emotional Intelligence range from organizational situations to family life, parenting, romantic relationships, and more.
There’s no question leading and working with emotional intelligence will get you far. While numerous books have been written on the topic, we have picked below cover what we believed to be the most influential books on emotional intelligence from top academic authors and practitioners alike. These are some of the best books on Emotional Intelligence that serve as brilliant introductions for newcomers to the positive psychology field, and others are established titles that we consider ‘must-reads.’ You’ll find the best quotes from these books that will help you understand what emotional intelligence is, why it’s so necessary, and how you can build yours.
Best Books on Emotional Intelligence
1. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman packs this one with fascinating case histories of triumphs, disasters, and dramatic turnarounds from more than 500 organizations around the globe. If you have ever wondered who the founder of Emotional Intelligence is, you will probably already have come across the work of Daniel Goleman.
His contributions came to the fore when he was working at the New York Times during the ’90s. He developed a keen interested in Salovey and Mayer’s work which led to his publication of the bestselling Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ in 1995.
‘Emotional Intelligence,’ Goleman’s first book on the topic was an international bestseller. It has frequently been credited with being ‘The Book’ behind the popularization of the concept. By adopting a business standpoint, Goleman’s key premise is that cognitive intelligence (IQ) is not the sole predictor of workplace success but Emotional Intelligence is an equally important non-cognitive skill.
He offers his definition of Emotional Intelligence as a ‘set of skills’ rather than a personality trait. The EI encompasses self-motivation, social abilities, empathy, and impulse control, among others. It is written predominantly from an organizational perspective, offering business implications for employees as well as leaders. It also gives the reader an overview of how Emotional Intelligence can help everyone deal better with difficulties, impulses, and negative emotions.
2. Thinking, Fast and Slow
In this book Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, explains the use of human emotions to think and make better decisions.
Daniel Kahneman was born in Israel in 1934. His extensive psychology career has included many academic journal publications; which he uses directly in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. This book spans more than thirty chapters and presents an extremely profound literary illustration of human emotions and psychological underpinnings of how humans do so.
Kahneman relies on a lot of his research, giving readers rich insight into his studies. It does cross over into the mathematical at times. As one example, the author links concepts such as numerical reasoning and risk with the human propensity to process novel situations more rapidly than any other species. It is a relatively long book and a pretty serious read, Kahneman has received ample well-deserved praise for this profound piece of work.
3. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
This treatise by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves delivers a step-by-step program for increasing your EQ. It has an online assessment to give you a baseline of your EQ status. First published in 1995, the book is based on extensive research and personal experience in examining the importance of EQ for success and happiness. The ultimate message is for us to take care to nurture our children so that they will have a healthy emotional base as they grow.
Many readers consider the popular Emotional Intelligence 2.0 to be one of the best books on Emotional Intelligence. Using data from over 500k individuals, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 provides insightful answers to some of the EI research questions.
The findings on EQ patterns within cultures, generations, ages, and gender are interesting, to cite some examples. Like most other Emotional Intelligence books, ‘The Big Picture’ chapter provides a good answer to the “What is Emotional Intelligence?” question.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a rich resource that covers over three dozen strategies for building EQ in the areas of self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and self-awareness.
Authors then provide easy-to-follow guidance on how to improve the areas you may not have scored ‘highly’ on. You are also invited to fill out your own Emotional Intelligence action plan for the future. It is worth noting that even the least avid readers will find the opening interesting. It provides a gripping account of one surfer’s adventure that sets the scene for the rest of the book.
4. The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Person Others Want to Follow
Bruna Martinuzzi connects leadership strategies with EQ. Drawing on more than 25 years of leadership experience, this inspirational book provides some important guidelines for the emotionally intelligent leadership needed for success. It is a must-have for leaders and people who work with leaders.
5. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
The author Daniel H. Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment. The book also reveals how to master them.
6. The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop/ Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership
Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso detail a practical, four-part hierarchy of emotional skills i.e. identifying emotions, using emotions to facilitate thinking, understanding and managing emotions along with developing each of the skills and employ them in an integrated way to solve the most difficult work-related problems.
Yale University’s Peter Salovey has received numerous awards for his extensive research into the Emotional Intelligence concept. With fellow academics John Mayer and David Caruso, Salovey developed the Mayer Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test to measure EI.
The book delves into the various ways that organizational leaders can understand, develop, and apply the four abilities (perceiving emotions, facilitating thinking using emotions, understanding emotions; and managing emotions) of Salovey and Mayer’s Emotional Intelligence concept.
It provides various actionable approaches for developing EI, starting with an appreciation of how these abilities present themselves in everyday organizational life.
7. Wired to Care
In this illuminating book, business strategist Dev Patnaik and Peter Mortensen tells the story of how organizations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power (empathy, the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people) each of us already has.
8. Primal Leadership
Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee wrote this seminal classic that solidified emotional intelligence in the business lexicon, affirming its importance for leadership skills at the workplace. First published in 2001, the book is more focused on leadership development. Given that a large premise of the authors’ work deals with ‘styles of Leadership,’ it may have more relevant implications for those in charge of teams or companies.
Goleman and Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee each draw on their own consulting experience to identify and introduce the six styles (visionary, affiliative, democratic, coaching, commanding and pacesetting) each of which may be differently suited to use in different situations. They are:
Readers keen to learn more about the theory behind EI may be pleased to know that the book does cite and discuss academic research. It is not overly academic and tends by most to be considered a relatively easy read. Boyatzis also introduces the reader to his Theory of Self Directed Learning intended to equip leaders to grow and develop professionally. The book gives some practical advice about how Emotionally Intelligent Organizations can be built.
9. Emotional Intelligence for Dummies
Clinical psychologist Dr. Steven Stein uses anecdotes to make the ‘science’ of EI both straightforward and relatable for the reader throughout the 19 chapters of this book. This popular book covers techniques that therapists can use with clients for EQ development, as well as a few that everyone can use to manage their interpersonal relationships better.
There are five parts to this book: ‘There’s a new kind of intelligence in town,’ ‘The Essentials of Emotional Intelligence,’ ‘Taking Emotional Intelligence to Work,’ ‘Using Emotional Intelligence at Home’ and ‘The Part of Tens.’
Stein outlines how we can identify the signs of someone with low Emotional Intelligence. According to the author, a few signs of low EI include: overestimating one’s own abilities, losing control of one’s emotions and adapting poorly to change.
10. Drive: The Truth About What Motivates Us
Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, this Daniel H. Pink classic examines the three elements of true motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
11. Brain At Work: Strategies For Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, And Working Smarter
Author David Rock researched the brain’s functions to help us understand ourselves and human behavior. This book teaches us about our limitations and capacities, and how we can “direct” our brain chemistry to achieve success.
12. The Language of Emotional Intelligence: Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships
It is an excellent resource for using EQ to build better relationships with everyone in your life, from an employee to a family member. Jeanne Segal shows how to use basic tools of EQ to enhance communication, read nonverbal cues, and diffuse conflicts before they get out of hand.