EQ Leadership – From the Founder

Bar-on - EQ-i-2.0-Model

Dr. Relly Nadler: This week’s episode is about EQ leadership and we have the opportunity to talk with a researcher and one of the founders of EQ Leadership. A couple of questions that we want to look at are: How and when did the research start on the concept of emotional intelligence, or EQ? How is the popular EQ assessment called The Emotional Quotient Inventory or EQi developed? How is the EQi used today in leadership development? What are the best ways to raise leadership EQ?

These questions and more will be answered in our show today. We are really happy to have Dr. Reuven Bar-on. He is an internationally known expert and a pioneer in the field of emotional intelligence. He has been involved in defining, measuring, and applying various aspects of this construct since 1980. The Bar-on Model is described as one of the three leading approaches to emotional intelligence and his EQi is the most popular of all of the EQ assessments.

Dr. Bar-on earned his Doctorate in South Africa in Psychology. He currently holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Texas, medical branch, where he is in charge of directing the EI and related research.

Dr. Bar-on created the Bar-on Emotional Quotient Inventory, the EQi, which is the first test of emotional intelligence to be published by a psychological test producer. He has co-edited the Handbook of Emotional Intelligence, 2000, which is a great collection of academic text on the subject, and recently completed co-editing an additional book in this area called, Educating People to be Emotional Intelligent.

He is also known as coining the term “Emotional Quotient” in 1985 and we’ll talk to him about that and how that came about. Dr. Bar-on is involved in numerous research projects related to emotional intelligence for more than a quarter century. An example includes a three-year study that he did with the Israeli defense forces that empirically demonstrates the impact of EI performance as well as its ability to predict command leadership.

He also has analyzed findings from extensive research conducted by Marian Ruderman with the Center for Creative Leadership, one of the top leadership centers in the world, that confirms the ability of emotional intelligence to identify and predict successful corporate leaders.

He is also involved in a 25-year longitudinal study of 23,000 youth to determine the interrelationships between emotional intelligence and biomedical, cognitive, development, and social educational factors. This study is being conducted by the Human Resource Development in Canada. It represents the first EI study and is expected to shed light on how this construct develops and what effects it has and what it is affected by, as far as emotional intelligence.

In an ongoing basis in the corporate world, Dr. Bar-on is involved in developing EI models that predict performance and are used in hiring, training, and succession planning. Dr. Bar-on, welcome to the show.

Dr. Bar-on: Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: We are obviously very excited to have you. I thought I would kick off our program today, Dr. Bar-on, asking you a little bit about how you first got interested in this concept of emotional intelligence?

Dr. Bar-on: Thank you Cathy. It is hard to say, but I think approximately in 1980 when I was working as a clinical psychologist, again asking simply why some people function well and even enjoy life while others appear to have reoccurring problems, I just began to think what the difference between these two groups of people were; what makes the difference?

Based on answers that I began to receive for myself, my colleagues, and also building into the literature, it became clear that this must have something to do with how people function; how well people function emotionally and socially. So this actually was the beginning of my introduction to this concept called emotional intelligence.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So, that was in 1980, Dr. Bar-on, and then we talked about in the intro that you coined the term of EQ in 1985. Can you tell us about how that came about and how did you put together those two words?

Dr. Bar-on: The idea of an EQ or Emotional Quotient began to bubble up in the late 1970s when I was supervising interns in clinical psychology. I simply wanted to make my work easier to simplify it as a supervisor. I wanted for them to give me an EQ like they do with IQ scores and other information on people they assess. I later included, later began to develop this idea of an EQ as part of my doctoral dissertation which was submitted in 1985.

In the doctoral dissertation in respect to EQ or Emotional Quotient, I was talking about it, writing about it, to describe in a quantitative way, a quantitative method of measuring emotional and social functioning. I thought at the time, and I still do, will lead to a sense of well-being. It also appeared in an unpublished manuscript that I sent to Daniel Goleman and to a number of test publishers in around 1992-93. Also, I went public with the idea, exposed more people to it in a presentation at the 1996 APA Annual Convention. This was the beginning of EQ and since then I have elaborated on what I mean by that.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Dr. Bar-on, you are quite the researcher. I graduated from Rutgers and I know that you are now the first non-founding member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, an organization at Rutgers. What have you found out about EQ and predicting leadership from your studies at this organization and the many others that you are related to?

Dr. Bar-on: I think taking into account that the nature of this program; I think perhaps the best way of trying to answer that question, Cathy, would be to describe the results in the study I conducted, as you mentioned in the beginning, with Dr. Marian Ruderman and myself at the Center of Creative Leadership on approximately 300 executive leaders in 2003.

I think it is a beautiful example because it’s a cross-section of executive leaders from different sectors, different industries. These 300 people, their EI (emotional intelligence) is assessed with EI and their leadership performance is rated by approximately 7-8 coworkers using benchmarks which is a 360̊ multi-rater developed by CCL. I then applied an analysis to the data and it revealed that the overall correlation between emotional intelligence and leadership was .74, which is an outstanding correlation. This means that at least 55% of leadership is emotional intelligence.

The key EI factors that surface in this model were the first three. The strongest are what we call today, social skills. Empathy: the ability to look at other people and how they feel; their emotion. Interpersonal relationships or relating with other people. Social responsibility: the ability to feel like you are a cooperative and contributing member to your social group, and the last two in the model were the ability to cope with stress and solve problems.

The accuracy of the model was estimated at 86% by the classification matrix. This simply means if you use this model, you would probably be able to identify 9 out of 10 people of being top performers.

Listen to the entire interview, above.


Leave a Reply