The 15 factors of the Bar-On model

The 15 factors of the Bar-On model

From Darwin to the present, most descriptions, definitions and conceptualizations of emotional-social intelligence have included one or more of the following key components, all of which are included in the Bar-On conceptual model: (i) the ability to understand emotions as well as to express our feelings and ourselves; (ii) the ability to understand others’ feelings and relate with people; (iii) the ability to manage and control our emotions so they work for us and not against us; (iv) the ability to manage change and solve problems of an intrapersonal and interpersonal nature; (v) the ability to generate positive mood and be self-motivated. According to the Bar-On model, each of these 5 meta-factorial components, or factorial clusters, of EI comprise a number of closely related competencies, skills and behaviors, 15 factors in all, which are described below.

1. Self-Regard:

This EI factor is defined as our ability to look inward and accurately perceive, understand and accept ourselves. It is having the capacity to accurately look at and evaluate ourselves, which can eventually lead to accepting and respecting ourselves. Respecting ourselves is, essentially, the ability to like the way we are with all the ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’ that we possess. Self-acceptance is thus the ability to accept our positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses as well as our limitations and possibilities. This aspect of emotional-social intelligence is directly associated with self-awareness. It impacts feelings of self-esteem, security, inner strength, self-assuredness, self-confidence and healthy self-reliance (rather than being dependent on others); but, self-regard is not synonymous with these feelings. Feeling sure of ourselves is dependent upon basic self-respect, which is associated with a well-developed sense of identity of who we are as a person.

A person with good self-regard often feels fulfilled and satisfied. Additionally, an optimal level of self-regard impacts the way we conduct and carry ourselves as well as the general image that we project outwardly. For leaders, projecting the image or “presence” of a successful leader is nearly as important as being a successful leader. Excessively high levels of self-regard, however, can be problematic. For example, people with extremely high levels of self-regard can appear narcissistic and egocentric at times; and they typically tend to talk about their positive attributes, strengths and accomplishments often making others feel uncomfortable in their presence. High levels of this factor, therefore, need to be balanced with good interpersonal skills so that these more negative aspects of self-regard do not create problems in social interactions with family, friends and colleagues at work.

At the opposite end of the self-regard continuum are feelings of personal inadequacy and inferiority that can contribute to frustration, depressive mood and difficulty in accomplishing personal goals and enjoying life.

It is important to point out from the outset that although some psychologists have claimed that self-regard and a number of other factorial components of the Bar-On EI model are personality traits, these EI factors are in essence competencies, skills and behaviors which are often associated with and even significantly correlated with various aspects of personality as well as various other bio-psycho-social factors but are not synonymous with them. For example, self-regard is also associated with self-actualization, but the two are obviously not identical entities. Additionally and unlike personality traits, these EI factors are malleable, change over time and can be improved.

2. Emotional Self-Awareness:

This EI factor is defined as our ability to be aware of, identify and understand our emotions. First and foremost, emotional self-awareness is the ability to recognize our various emotions and distinguish between them. For example, it is to know when we are angry and when we are scared and the difference between the two which many people confuse. It is not only the ability to be aware of our emotions and distinguish between them, but is also the ability to understand why we feel the way we do. Emotional self-awareness is to know what we are feeling and why, and to know what causes these feelings.

This is probably the most important factorial component of emotional-social intelligence and integrally associated with other important EI factors such as the ability to accurately understand how others feel and to express our own feelings as well as to effectively manage and control emotions. Emotional self-awareness appears, in one form or another, in every description, definition and conceptualization of this construct from Darwin to the present day; and there is no EI psychometric instrument that does not include a measure of this important EI factor. This is, therefore, the minimal component required by any model that attempts to describe EI.

People who possess high emotional self-awareness are said to be “in touch with their feelings” and have a good understanding of their inner being. On the other hand, serious deficiencies in this area are found in an emotional disorder known as “alexithymia” which is at the pathological end of the EI continuum; and these people have great difficulty knowing what they feel, what caused those feelings and how to distinguish between them. This condition has long been thought to be one of the contributing factors in the development of psychosomatic disorders as well as other psychological and physical disturbances. It is also interesting to know that alexithymia correlates highly with “treatment rejection” (i.e., the inability to benefit from psychotherapy). This finding is logical, because it is very difficult for people who are deficient in emotional self-awareness to understand their emotions and how their feelings impact their lives. As such, (a) an average to above average level of emotional self-awareness together with (b) an average to above average cognitive capacity and (c) motivation for self-improvement are the minimal three criteria for predicting the ability to benefit from any form of intervention from psychotherapy to corporate coaching as well as the outcome such interventions. It is therefore highly recommended to first examine the strength or weakness of this important factor when preparing the initial debriefing session designed to convey the results of EI-oriented testing and/or interviewing in order to gauge the individual’s general ability to benefit from coaching, counseling or psychotherapy.

Last, it is important to note that when this EI factor is weak, it is nearly impossible to develop effective empathy. Simply put, we cannot understand how others feel if we do not understand how we feel. Often, problems in relating with others stem from underdeveloped emotional self-awareness, which is highly correlated with empathy.

Together with self-regard, as defined in the previous segment, emotional self-awareness represents the two key components of what is referred to as “self-awareness” which is being aware of various aspects of our emotions and feelings in particular and of ourselves in general.

3. Assertiveness / Emotional Self-Expression:

This very important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively express our feelings and ourselves in general, which is based on effective self-awareness. This is the ability to express feelings, beliefs and thoughts as well as our ability to defend our rights in a nondestructive manner. This is based on self-confidence, straightforwardness and boldness. Assertiveness, or “emotional-self expression” as it is often referred to, is thus composed of three key elements: (i) the ability to express our feelings on an emotional level; (ii) the ability to express our beliefs and opinions on a cognitive level; and (iii) the ability to be stand up for our rights and not to allow others to bother us or take advantage of us. Assertiveness powers decisiveness. As such, this is an important characteristic for leaders, needed in making decisions with resolve and authority.

Assertive people are not overly controlled, shy or submissive, and they are able to express their feelings, often directly, without being aggressive, abusive or destructive. They are able to get their point across without creating disruptive disturbances while interacting with others. Additionally, these people are often guided by their principles, are bold and cable of affirming themselves. These are all important qualities for managers and leaders.

Emotional self-expression (assertiveness) and emotional self-awareness are two the most important factorial components of emotional-social intelligence and strategically important for all conceptual and psychometric models of this construct. Assertiveness, as it relates to the expression of emotions, was first scientifically studied by Charles Darwin from 1837 until 1872; and he authored the first publication (Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals) in 1872 that describes this EI factor and its vital importance for survival and adaptation among human beings as well as animals. Based on fairly recent research findings, moreover, an important part of assertiveness depends on one’s ability to understand emotions which makes sense. Simply put, how can we effectively express our feelings if we are unaware of what we want to express? Additional findings suggest the possibility that those suffering from anxiety-related neurotic disorders may have difficulty in more freely expressing their feelings, perhaps because they feel ashamed of doing so or are fearful of the reaction and possibly rejection that they will face from others if they do. A high correlation between the EQ-i™ Assertiveness scale and measures of depression suggests that depressed people may find it difficult to mobilize the emotional energy required to be assertive and express themselves openly. Additional findings suggest that some individuals who lack assertiveness may even run the risk of converting these deficiencies in self-expression into psychosomatic disturbances.

It is also recommended to look at one’s Assertiveness score in addition to the Emotional Self-Awareness score on the EQ-i™, in order to help asses one’s ability to benefit from counseling, coaching and other forms of intervention such psychotherapy.

4. Independence:

This EI factor is defined as our ability to be self-reliant and free of emotional dependency on others. This is the ability to be self-directed in our thinking and actions. Independent people are self-reliant in planning and making important decisions. They may, however, seek and consider other people’s opinions before making decisions; but, consulting with others is not a sign of dependency in this respect. Independence is, moreover, the ability to function autonomously versus needing protection and support from others. Independent people avoid clinging to others in order to satisfy their emotional needs. The ability to be independent rests on our degree of inner strength, self-confidence as well as a desire to meet expectations and obligations without becoming a slave to them.

Based on research findings collected by me and others, independence, or “self-reliance” as it is often referred to, is associated with the feeling that we are in control and can influence situations. As such, it is an important facilitating factor in coping with stress and working under pressure. Moreover, independence has been found to be highly correlated with stress tolerance, problem-solving and assertiveness. For this reason, some suggest that his factor could be more of a facilitator of emotionally intelligent behavior than an integral factorial component of the construct itself.

This factor is of prime importance for being a successful manager and leader as well as being effective in occupations that require individuals to work alone and make decisions on their own. Dependent employees make it difficult for teams to function effectively and efficiently, because they slow up the teamwork process in that they depend on others to show them what needs to be done and often need assistance in completing their tasks. On the other hand, excessively independent individuals often do not make good team members either finding it difficult to cooperate with others. As such, there are most likely optimal levels of independence as is the case with many other human attributes.

5. Empathy:

This important EI factor is defined as our ability to be aware of and understand how others feel. It is being sensitive to what, how and why people feel the way they do. Being empathetic is being able to “emotionally read” other people, which is the ability to pick up emotional cues. Empathetic people care about other people and show interest in them and concern for them; they are able to express warmth and affection to others. This EI factor is central to, what is referred to as, “social-awareness” and to be a dependable, responsible and loyal group member. It entails putting the interests of others ahead of self when necessary and being a cooperative, contributing and trustworthy team player. For leaders, this entails taking and delegating responsibility which means leading by example within the team and in the organization as a whole. 

This factor is another extremely important component that has surfaced in most models that have attempted to describe emotional and social intelligence over the years. Our ability to be aware of and understand others is, first and foremost, dependent on our ability to be aware of and understand ourselves. Empathy, emotional self-awareness and emotional-self expression (assertiveness) represent the essential foundations and building blocks of the EI construct; and these factors, especially empathy, are fundamental for people involved in the helping professions such as social workers, psychologists and physicians. Without empathy, it would be nearly impossible for individuals to function in these specific professions.

Research findings have shown that the lack of empathy represents an important factor in aggressive, antisocial and psychopathic behavior, which is important for diagnostic and remedial applicability. Serious deficiencies in empathy are typically found in sociopaths, rapists and murderers who show little concern for their victims.

On the other end of the continuum, individuals who are overly empathetic are often considered to be weak managers and leaders, especially when it comes to the need to be critical of and reprimand employees for unacceptable behavior and to make difficult decisions such as dismissing people when need be.

6. Social Responsibility:

This factor is defined as our ability to identify with social groups, among friends, at work and in the community, and to cooperate with others in a constructive and contributing manner. This involves acting in a responsible manner, even though we may not benefit personally. Socially responsible people are seen as possessing “social consciousness” and a basic concern for others, which is manifested by being able to take on group- and community-oriented responsibilities. This component of emotional-social intelligence is associated with doing things for and with others, acting in accordance with our conscience and upholding a set of agreed upon social principles, rules and standards common to the group. Being part of these various groups, in which we find ourselves, entails having a sense of interpersonal sensitivity, accepting others and using their talents for the good of the collective and not just for the good of the self. Another name for social responsibility is “moral competence” (at times referred to as “ethical competence” as well as “professionalism” in the workplace), which in its simplest form is doing the right thing.

Social responsibility is highly correlated with empathy, indicating that they are sharing a very similar conceptual domain. Based on studies that have examined this factor, it was found that social responsibility is related to identifying and understanding feelings in addition to being aware of emotions; and the underlying construct appears to be related to being sensitive, considerate and concerned about others and their feelings as well as demonstrating responsibility.

In a very large survey conducted in 36 countries between 1988 and 1998, social responsibility surfaced as one of the most important factors thought to determine effectiveness at work. Approximately 100,000 managers from hundreds of private companies and government organizations, primarily in Europe, were asked what they considered to be the most important characteristic of effective and successful employees. A number of the more recurring answers clearly focused on social responsibility described variously as “respect and consideration for others,” “loyalty toward people and the goals of the organization,” “cooperation with others,” and “responsibility for both the success and failure of the organization.”

Individuals who are seriously deficient in this EI ability may develop antisocial attitudes, act abusively towards others and take advantage of people.

7. Interpersonal Relationship:

This EI factor is defined as our ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships and relate well with others. Mutual satisfaction describes meaningful social interactions that are potentially rewarding and enjoyable for those involved. Being adept in interpersonal relationship skills is characterized by giving and receiving warmth and affection and conveying intimacy when appropriate. This component of emotional-social intelligence is not only associated with the desirability of cultivating friendly relations with others, but with the ability to feel at ease and comfortable in such relationships and to possess positive expectations concerning social interaction. This social skill is based on sensitivity towards others, a desire to establish relations as well as feeling satisfied with relationships.

Based on a number of studies that have examined this factor, it has been shown that there is a connection between the ability to be aware of emotions and the ability to create and maintain interpersonal relationships. Additionally, it has been shown that the ability to give and receive warmth in relations is not only dependent on the ability to be aware of emotions but also on the ability to understand feelings and emotions within those relations. People who are adept at this ability are pleasant to be around, appear outgoing and warm. They often contribute to a positive atmosphere at work. This skill is a prerequisite for a number of professions and occupations such as marketing, sales and customer service. Individuals who are weak in interpersonal relationship are often described as shy, introverted, uneasy around others and prone to avoiding social contact. They are typically unpleasant to be with and work with.

Last, the EQ-i™ Interpersonal Relationship scale that taps this EI factor has demonstrated a high negative correlation with a measure of borderline personality disorder, which makes sense in light of the fact that individuals who are diagnosed with this disorder have great difficulty in establishing and maintaining contact (most likely because they lack the ability to express warmth).

This EI factor is very similar to, if not identical with, “connectedness” defined as the ability to effectively and constructively connect with others; and at a deeper level, it is based on social-awareness and empathy. All of these various ways of describing this construct are part of what many refer to as “social skills” in the popular leadership literature. Without good social skills, leaders will find it difficult if not impossible to manage and lead others.

8. Stress Tolerance:

This important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively manage emotions. In essence, stress tolerance is the ability to withstand and deal with adverse events and stressful situations without getting overwhelmed by actively and positively coping with stress. It is similar to tactical problem-solving aimed at coming up with an immediate solution to deal with a stressful problem or situation. This ability is based on: (i) choosing a course of action for coping with stress, which means being resourceful and effective, being able to come up with suitable solutions and knowing what to do and how to do it; (ii) an optimistic disposition toward new experiences and change in general as well as towards our ability to successfully overcome the specific problem at hand, which assumes a belief in our ability to face and handle these situations; and (iii) a feeling that we can control or influence the stressful situation in some important way. As such, the ability to effectively cope with stress requires having a repertoire of suitable responses to stressful situations. It is also associated with the capacity to be relaxed, composed and to calmly face difficulties without getting carried away by strong emotions. People who have a well-developed capacity for stress tolerance tend to face crises and problems rather than surrendering to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They rarely avoid problematic situations but face them with confidence.

Research findings have shown that stress tolerance is closely associated with the ability to identify, understand and control emotions. It also has to do with an ability to cope with environmental demands, to influence stressful events and actively do something to improve the immediate situation.

This very important component of emotional intelligence is an essential leadership quality, and leaders who are adept in coping with stress are a true asset to any team and organization. When things get rough, they tend to take control of the situation and weather the storm.

This ability to actively cope and adjust effectively under pressure and in challenging, demanding and stressful situations is very important for leadership but for successful leadership. It entails concentrating on the immediate situation and paying attention to detail in order to continue to function effectively and get the job done. This is critical to the leader’s ability to withstand complex, trying and stressful conditions, in order to effectively function while remaining calm and composed. In light of the fact that organizational life and management tend to generate a great deal of stress and pressure, successful leaders must demonstrate adeptness in this characteristic in order to survive and hopefully thrive.

Anxiety often results when this component is not functioning adequately. People who score significantly low on the EQ-i™ Stress Tolerance scale may demonstrate symptoms related to stress and anxiety such as tension, irritability, apprehension, a tendency to worry, poor concentration, difficulty in making decision and even somatic complaints.

9. Impulse Control:

This important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively control emotionsMore precisely, impulse control is the ability to resist or delay an impulse or temptation to act; and it assumes a capacity for accepting our aggressive impulses as well as controlling hostile and potentially irresponsible behavior. It is the ability to maintain composure and effectively control one’s emotions in challenging and demanding situations. In essence, impulse control is having emotions work for you and not against you.

After emotional self-awareness (being aware of one’s emotions), empathy (being aware of others’ emotions) and assertiveness (expressing one’s feelings), impulse control (controlling emotions) represents the fourth foundation stone of emotional intelligence. As such, this is a key component of most definitions and measures of this construct.

Research findings have shown that impulse control is closely associated, first and foremost, with understanding emotions. In order function effectively, evidently, it appears that one must understand as well as control emotions.

Impulse control surfaces as an important element in the ability to lead, negotiate and execute conflict resolution. Problems in impulse control are typically quite visible as well as destructive. They are often manifested by low frustration tolerance, impulsiveness, anger control problems, abusiveness, loss of self-control and explosive and unpredictable behavior. This factor surfaces as a key contributor to “derailment” in leadership. Although Bill Clinton is thought to be highly emotionally intelligent in a number of fundamental areas, he was seriously lacking in this specific aspect of EI which contributed to the beginning of impeaching proceedings against him.

10. Reality-Testing:

This EI factor governs our ability to objectively validate our feelings and thinking with external reality. This includes assessing the correspondence between what is internally experienced and what externally exists. Testing the degree of correspondence between what we experience and what actually exists involves a search for objective evidence to confirm feelings, perceptions and thoughts. Reality testing, essentially, involves “tuning in” to the immediate situation, attempting to keep things in correct perspective and experiencing things as they really are without excessive fantasizing or daydreaming about them. The emphasis is on pragmatism, objectivity and the accuracy of our perception as well as on authenticating our ideas and thoughts. An important aspect of this EI factor is the degree of perceptual clarity evident when trying to assess and cope with situations; and it involves the ability to focus when examining ways of coping with situations that arise. As such, reality testing comprises elements of and is based on perception, affect (emotions) and cognition. Reality testing is also associated with a lack of withdrawal from the outside world, a tuning in to the immediate situation as well as lucidity and clarity in perception and thought processes. In simple terms, reality testing is the ability to accurately and realistically “size-up” the immediate situation.

Reality testing is closely associated with “situational awareness” in that involves being intensely aware of our surroundings, which includes effectively clarifying and closing potential gaps between our internal perceptions and what actually exists in the outside world. Effectiveness within this frame of reference depends on first recognizing and understanding the essentials of the immediate situation as well as quickly assessing the seriousness and potential risk factors involved, and then attempting to forecast the situation in the near term. Situational awareness (reality testing) depends on accurately identifying and understanding emotions, which suggests that this factor plays an important role in the cognitive processing of emotions (a point that has not yet been fully addressed in the emotional intelligence literature). This EI factor acts as “the rudder” in keeping the cognitive processing of emotions on track. It is associated with a lack of withdrawal from the outside world and a tuning into the immediate situation as well as lucidity and clarity in perception and in thought processes.

Problems in reality testing can be catastrophic for organizational existence as they often are for individuals. Severe psychiatric disturbances, such as psychosis, are fueled by extreme deficiencies in this factorial component of emotional intelligence.

11. Flexibility:

This factor is defined as our ability to adapt and adjust our feelings, thinking and behavior to new situations and conditions. This component of emotional-social intelligence refers to our overall ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances. Flexible people are agile, synergistic and capable of reacting to change without rigidity. These people are able to change their minds when evidence suggests that they are mistaken. They are generally open to and tolerant of different ideas, orientations, ways and practices. They do not experience difficulty beginning new things or making adjustments in general. They are typically resilient and can easily take on new tasks.

Based on research findings, flexibility is closely associated with the ability to adjust to different social environments. As such, it is an extremely important EI factor for individuals as well as organizations and a major contributor to organizational survival. In order to survive in a dynamic market economy, organizations must be flexible and ready to rapidly and adequately meet change. Flexibility is considered to be one of the most important managerial competencies by the US Office of Personnel Management. In addition to managerial competencies in general, this factor plays an important part in conflict resolution, negotiation, mergers and acquisitions.

This factor is important in leadership, because it drives the ability to multitask and resiliently adapt in order to address a rapidly changing environment, realities and new challenges. Multitasking depends on paying attention to and keeping track of the essential details in the leader’s immediate surroundings, in order to pivot and turn when need be. All of this determines how effective the leader will be in responding to altered situations and unexpected conditions. This characteristic is important for being resourceful, taking the initiative for immediate action, improvisation, resiliency and adaptability in the face of unpredictable and demanding scenarios.

Lack of flexibility can lead, in some cases, to catastrophic consequences for the organization as a whole. People who score low on the EQ-i™ Flexibility scale are likely to exhibit rigidity in their thinking and behavior; and they tend to resist change in general and in themselves in particular. Rigidity in leadership, and within organizations in general, represents a serious threat to corporate survival.

12. Problem-Solving:

This EI factor governs our ability to effectively solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature. Problem-solving together with reality-testing and flexibility for the essential elements of adaptability – they are what drive the Darwinian theory of survival and adaptability. This important EI factor entails the ability to identify and define problems as well as to generate and implement potentially effective solutions. It is multi-phasic in nature and includes the ability to go through the following process: (i) sensing a problem and feeling confident as well as motivated to deal with it; (ii) defining and formulating the problem as clearly as possible, which necessitates gathering relevant information; (iii) generating as many solutions as possible; and (iv) implementing one of the solutions after weighing the pros and cons of each possible solution and choosing the best course of action. People who are adept at problem solving are often conscientious, disciplined, methodical and systematic in persevering and approaching challenging situations. Task-oriented behavior also appears to be part of problem-solving together being committed to actively coping with problematic situations in order to improve them. This skill is also associated with a desire to do our best and to confront problems, rather than avoiding them. While a methodical approach appears to be important in this process, flexibility and spontaneity are also important especially as they relate to generating potential solutions (“brainstorming”). Problem-solving entails paying attention to detail in what is often a very complicated situation, quickly and effectively filtering information as well as prioritizing a desired course of action that needs to be anchored in good judgment. This process is closely associated with pattern recognition, which helps one remember what works best in specific situations and the feasibility of applying this approach again. Memory, therefore, plays a key role in learning from past experiences in order to enhance future performance through a type of multitasking during the problem-solving process and making the most effective decisions which entails risk analysis and management in addition to decision-making per se. As such, problem-solving is a complex cognitive process.

Research findings have suggested that it is important to understand emotions in order to solve problems (or possibly to solve problems with emotional content). Problem solving is considered to be one of the most important managerial competencies by the US Office of Personnel Management. Together with reality-testing and flexibility, problem-solving plays a very important part in the ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts. Strength in this area is a true asset, both individually and organizationally. This skill is especially critical for effective strategic planning; it is essential in anticipating and dealing with potentially complex problems on a large scale. This is especially necessary for individuals working alone, or with minimal supervision, who typically have to deal with situations as they arise without the benefit of group decision-making.

13. Self-Actualization:

This factor is defined as our ability to set personal goals and the drive to achieve them in order to actualize our potential. Fundamentally, self-actualization pertains to the ability to actualize our inner potential. It is manifested by becoming involved in pursuits that can lead to a meaningful, rich and full life. Striving to actualize our potential involves developing meaningful and enjoyable activities. This can be manifested by a lifelong effort and an enthusiastic commitment to long-term goals. Self-actualization is an ongoing process of striving toward maximum development of our competencies, skills and talents. This is associated with persistently trying to do our best and trying to improve ourselves. It is not merely performance but performing at the highest level. Additionally, excitement about our interests energizes and motivates us to continue these interests. It is self-motivating and contributes to being fully engaged in those activities we enjoy doing. It is one of the key “conative” factors considered by David Wechsler to play an important role in facilitating “intelligent behavior” as he referred to it. It generates emotional energy, which helps motivate us to do our best.

The self-actualization factor comprises a general achievement drive, as well as a sense of direction in life and a desire to work toward personal goals. It is also infectious in that it tends to have a positive effect on those around us such as in a team setting. Self-actualization is also associated with and frequently leads to feelings of self-satisfaction.

Together with optimism and happiness, self-actualization generates the self-motivation and energy to drive other aspects of emotional-social intelligence. This is the fuel trio behind emotional-social intelligence.

Research findings suggest that certain aspects of this factor are related to being committed to and involved with activities that actively attempt to improve the individual. Intelligent managers and smart companies need to nurture self-actualization, because it is important for the organization as well as for the individual. Not only should individuals be allowed to pursue their goals at work as much as is possible, but they should be encouraged to direct some of that energy to setting and accomplishing organizational goals as well.

Low levels of self-actualization are associated with frustration, despair and even depression. This creates difficulty in doing things that we want to do and can do. People who receive low scores on the EQ-i™ Self-Actualization scale may not know what they want to achieve, because they are confused about themselves in general and what they want to do in life; or they may know what they want to accomplish in life but are unable to realize their potential for various reasons. Curtailment of personal pursuits, moreover, is one of the key symptoms of depression.

14. Optimism:

This EI factor is defined as our ability to maintain a positive and hopeful attitude toward life even in the face of adversity. It is represents a positive an uplifting approach to daily living and a very important motivating factor in whatever we do.

There is a strong connection between optimism and the ability to cope with problems. Optimism also plays an important role in self-motivation and is a very important factor in coping with stress and achieving goals, which represents a valuable and desirable leadership attribute. Optimistic individuals typically feel sure of themselves in most situations, believe they can stay on top of rough situations, hope for the best and are generally motivated to continue even when things get difficult while pessimists typically give up easier. They usually expect things will turn out right in the end, believe in their ability to handle most upsetting problems, and typically do not feel they will fail when they begin something new. Optimists experience many of the same life events as pessimists, but one of the fundamental differences is that optimists weather these situations better and recover quicker from defeat by learning from their mistakes.

Although optimism associated with emotional intelligence, it is most likely a facilitator rather than an integral part of it. David Wechsler also considered optimism, together with drive and positive mood, to be “conative factors” that he thought facilitated intelligent behavior. These factors were also considered to be motivational in nature rather than part of intelligence itself.

Optimism is an important leadership quality, because it is often associated with embracing some vision or mission that mobilizes our determination to meet goals designed to maximize individual and organizational potential. This contributes to being positive and passionate about what we do and fully energized and engaged. The “inspirational leader” is one who generates energy that impacts the immediate environment and inspires others. Additionally, one’s level of spiritual development (conducting one’s life in a meaningful and purposeful way) has a direct impact on one’s self-motivation; and this also includes the drive component of self-actualization and the motivational component of happiness.

Based on one study, there is a strong relationship between optimism and the ability to benefit from coaching, counseling, psychotherapy and other forms of intervention. This is logical in that optimism is thought to play an important role in these types of intervention, because people who are pessimistic tend to be passive rather than actively committed to doing something to improve their general condition. Optimism has also correlated high with a scale of general commitment. These findings support what has been earlier suggested about estimating an individual’s potential from benefiting from coaching and other forms intervention by assessing his or her general cognitive capacity, emotional self-awareness and motivation (which is based on optimism).

The opposite of optimism is pessimism, despair and hopelessness, which are common symptoms of depression.

15. Happiness / Well-Being:

This factor is defined as our ability to feel content with ourselves, others and life in general. This is, essentially, the ability to feel satisfied with our life, enjoy others and have fun. In this context, happiness combines self-satisfaction, general contentment and the ability to enjoy life. Happiness involves the ability to enjoy various aspects of our life and life in general. Happy people often feel good and at ease in both work and leisure; they are able to “let their hair down” and enjoy the simple opportunities for having fun. This factor is associated with a general feeling of cheerfulness and enthusiasm.

While some theorists and researchers do not feel that happiness is part of the emotional-social intelligence construct, the ability to generate and maintain positive mood is important for self-motivation and serves to energize other EI factors (together with optimism and the drive component of self-actualization).

Happiness provides two basic functions in the realm of human performance. The first is motivational, and the second is barometric. The former helps enhance performance by motivating and energizing us, while the latter tells us how well we have performed and can lead to a general sense of well-being. Together with self-actualization and optimism, happiness generates the self-motivation and energy to drive other aspects of emotional-social intelligence. Once again, this is the trio that fuels emotional-social intelligence.

The inability to experience happiness and difficulties in generating positive affect in general are often indicative of dissatisfaction, discontent and depressive tendencies.

Copyright 2013-2023 Reuven Bar-On. All rights reserved. | Disclaimer