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EI Definitions Comparison Table

The Popular Corporate Definition A Socially Responsible Definition
Promises emotional intelligence will make a more effective leader Can help the leader decide in which direction to lead.
Involves selectively using our emotions to achieve corporate goals. Involves using all our emotions to help us decide which goals are worth achieving.
Claims EI is twice as important as IQ and technical knowledge. Makes few such claims; suggests EI and IQ are of approximately equal value.
Suggests EI can help one be a better team member within the organization. Can help the organization become a better member of the world community.
Suggests an emotionally intelligent person can make a lot of money. Can help us decide when we have made enough.
Implies that a person high in EI will be driven, zealous and committed to the company goals. Can help us decide when it is time to go home and be with our family.
Notes the importance of being trustworthy. Can help one decide when to "blow the whistle."
Notes the importance of being a catalyst for change within the organization. Can help us each be catalysts for change within society.
Assumes success is equal to financial success. Allows for other definitions of success.
Assumes emotional intelligence is always a "good" thing. Allows for the possibility that it can be used in socially destructive ways and to emotionally manipulate others. (see related article)
Seems to value people as resources or commodities. Values people as humans with individual feelings, needs, and potential.
Focuses on the implementation of decisions. Focuses on the decision making process itself.
Suggests that with high EI we will sell more products and services. Can help us decide which products and services are really needed in the world.
Seems to value conformity to group standards. Places a higher value on individuality, disobedience and creativity.
Seems to devalue, discourage negative emotions. Respects the contribution of all emotions.
Focuses on specific competencies and personality traits. Focuses on intelligence, information processing, and potential for learning, understanding, development and growth.


This is based on the table prepared for my 2001 article for HR.com I developed a table to compare Goleman's idea of EI with my interpretation of the academic model suggested by Mayer and Salovey. I have changed the title of the second column from the "academic definition" to what I might call a "socially responsible definition" and made a few other small changes.

S. Hein
August 2003

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Respect | Empathy
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