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Dr. David Caruso on The Emotionally Intelligent Manager and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso mode of EI
Posted on Thursday, July 08 @ 13:19:10 PDT by Editor

David Caruso and Peter Salovey applied the groundbreaking scientific work they’ve done together with Dr. Jack Mayer on emotional intelligence in a practical book for managers. While many books have touted the benefits of EQ at work, The Emotionally Intelligent Manager is excellent for leaders who want to understand the real science behind the “EQ buzz.” In an enjoyable interview, Dr. Caruso introduces the ability model of emotional intelligence and explains how this insightful and scientifically rigorous approach has bottom-line value.

David, thanks for taking the time to do the interview.

It is a pleasure to do so Josh as I admire you, and the work of Six Seconds.

What led you and Peter to write the Emotionally Intelligent Manager?

The idea and motivation came from other people. Every time that I spoke on EI, ran a workshop, or did an assessment, people would ask us whether we had a book they could read to learn more. The academic articles didn't meet the real-world training needs people had; they were calling for a practical application of the research.

We debated for a very long time whether we even should do such a book. Would it support our focus on academic research? Was the field ready for this? Did we know enough about the ability model of EI to complete an entire hands-on book? After lots of passionate thinking, the answer was ‘yes!’ We saw that bringing the core science of emotional intelligence to the workplace could have business value and also be written with scientific integrity.

There have been so many books on EQ in the last 10 years. What does this one add?

Our book is focused purely on the ability model of EI and its application to what I know best -- the business world. The application of the ability model to the workplace is new, it’s practical, and gets to the heart of what many people need to practice to get the benefits of emotional intelligence to be a better a leader.

What’s different about the ability model?

Emotions are a complex and sophisticated form of information. This form of reasoning has been known as emotional intelligence. While there are many approaches to emotional intelligence, the approach I’m talking about here is the original, scientific conception. It’s based upon the decade of research and theorizing by psychologists Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey, the originators of the theory of emotional intelligence. This is an ability model of emotional intelligence which defines emotional intelligence as the ability to reason with, and about, emotions. Emotional intelligence combines feelings with thinking, and thinking with feeling with four related, but different, abilities:

Identifying Emotions -- the ability to accurately recognize how you and those around you are feeling; it’s how you gather information, or data, contained in emotions.

Using Emotions -- the ability to generate emotions, and to use emotions to actually help thinking; it’s key to problem-solving, creativity, and also empathy.

Understanding Emotions -- the ability to understand complex emotions and how one emotion leads to another; this ability to make sense of the meaning of feelings is important in building effective relationships, for example. It lets you strategically use emotions.

Managing Emotions -- the ability to intelligently act on the data of emotions in your self and in others; it lets you apply effective strategies that help you achieve positive outcomes.

And without giving away the book -- what’s the key to applying that model at work?

Emotions contain data and to ignore them means ignoring competitive information. The four EI abilities -- Identify, Use, Understand and Manage Emotions -- are the keys to leveraging the wisdom in feelings (which is, by the way, the title of a book that Peter and colleague Lisa Feldman-Barrett recently edited).

The book is about helping people take an intelligent approach to emotions, which allows our ideas to be accepted by executives. The book is not anti-IQ; we recognize that since EI is a form of intelligence, it works with thinking and problem solving. In other words, people are most effective when their EQ and IQ are working together. Which means leaders don’t have to fear emotional intelligence!

Could you give an example of an “intelligent use of emotions” in the workplace?

Sure! Let’s talk about emotional awareness, an ability many people agree is essential for effective communication. Being “open to feelings” may make people emotional, but to be emotionally intelligent they need accuracy in their emotional awareness.

Consider someone who is emotionally open and aware, but who usually “gets it wrong.” He picks up on emotional cues, and is sensitive to other’s emotions, but he’s misinterpreting the data or reading the wrong cues. Perhaps he’s coming to a conclusion that people are annoyed when really they’re busy and involved. You can imagine how he’d be constantly questioning and defensive because his perceptions were inaccurate. As he learns to become more accurate (or even to ask more questions), he’ll become more intelligent in the way he’s using emotions.

You talk about the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test as "the only ability measure of emotional intelligence." What does that mean?

I have to watch that hyperbole! An ability test means that you have to actually use your abilities to take the test. Where a “self-report” test will ask something like, “How accurately do you read people’s faces?” On this test you actually read faces. The result is an objective measure, something more like most IQ tests, but this one is about emotions.

As far as I know it is the only test of its kind, but even so, I want to avoid over-dramatizing this. It’s a solid, well researched test that is reliable and effective -- and it is unique.

In working on the book, what was one of the important "aha!" realizations for you?

The book was originally intended to raise awareness, to inform managers and leaders of the role of emotions in their work and life. And it certainly accomplishes this objective.

But the surprise, and it may sound sort of strange, was that I learned we could teach people to better adapt to their world through something as simple as a book. True change requires a lot more than reading a book, but we worked very hard to provide strategies that people can apply right away to various aspects of their lives. This realization came to me from the feedback which readers have sent our way, which has been extremely rewarding!

What's the key piece of research or data that you've found makes senior managers sit up and listen about the importance of EI?

Emotions contain data and to ignore them means ignoring competitive information. The idea is that how you feel influences how you think and what you think about. Emotions matter -- all the time.
But that is often not ‘hard’ enough for senior managers, and frankly, it shouldn’t be enough. It has taken quite some time, but we are finally seeing some data on how EI influences team effectiveness, the communication of a vision, interpersonal relationships, and a team-centered leadership style. Leaders higher in EI seem to encourage and support followers more than other leaders, and there is even some salary and promotion data in one study that suggests EI plays a role in these hard outcomes. It is preliminary work, but still exciting.

If you could have a million managers tape one key idea under their computer screens and think about it a little each week, what's the message you'd send?

Identify - Use - Understand - Manage Emotions.

That is our model and what we call our 'Emotional Blueprint' -- when people put these abilities into action, they get better results.

What are you, Peter, and Jack working on now?

We’re working in three areas right now:

We have an academic book on EI that we are completing to update our model of emotional intelligence and tell the scholarly world about the new work in the field.

The second effort is the research release of a youth version of our ability test. This has been many years in the making, so I am really excited about it. At the same time, I’m apprehensive about assessment and research with adolescents. This field requires the highest standards and care, and when you work with kids, as you certainly know yourself, the standard is even higher. So the apprehension is an intelligent, appropriate feeling that’s causing us to focus on our ethical priority -- “first, do no harm.” The approach we have taken requires time and it is responsible, ethical, and above all else, helpful to people.

The third area is to enhance our ability approach to EI. The research literature is something that we always contribute to and monitor, but I am hoping that a research grant that we are writing will get funded to allow us to move the field forward some more.

Why are you, personally, so committed to this work?

The work that Peter and Jack did was fabulous, and my goal was to let more people know about it. They are incredibly smart, responsible and decent guys and they looked to me to apply their work. So I have a feeling of obligation to them.

Secondly, I have found this model to be extremely helpful to my clients and believe that the model brings managers a tool to create more effective lives. In other words, it really works.

And, lastly, I find that I need to refer to the four abilities -- Identify, Use, Understand, Manage -- in order to "get things right" in my own life. And, I try to use the Emotional Blueprint after I get something wrong. It is a very powerful learning experience, and also, a very humbling experience. I always know when I have messed up, because my kids are so fond of telling me. Their feedback usually begins with their favorite phrase, “Well, Mr. Emotional Intelligence....” That is when I know that there is work I need to do to act in a more emotionally-intelligent manner. And, of course, many a colleague has reminded me that if I manage emotions better, I’ll get better results.

How did your wife and kids like the book?

You’ll have to ask them yourself, Josh! This is a book for managers, but my family was intimately involved in the book. My wife encouraged me every step of the way, and as a child psychologist, had some great insights to share with me. She is very expressive of her support for me, which is a behavior I try to learn from her. My daughter was taking a psychology class when I was writing the book, learned about EI, and had some terrific questions for me about how one can approach problems with our ability model. (And her picture is in the book as an example test item). My older son leveraged his PC skills to generate some of the book graphics and was anonymously featured in one of my anecdotes. (However, his recollection of the event differs somewhat from mine.) My younger son was the photographer for my author photo, something we are both quite proud of.

Anything else you want to add?

You know, our work is driven by friendship. Jack and I met in grad school in 1979. Peter was a grad student at Yale in 1983 when I went there to do a postdoctoral fellowship. Peter and Jack met at emotion conferences and started to collaborate and form a friendship. Later, Jack and I lived near each other once more and we saw each other a lot until he took his job in New Hampshire. Jack asked me to work with them back in '95 really as a means to stay in touch and give us an excuse to visit and call each other frequently. Some of the best times have been when the three of us are together, whether lecturing in Tokyo, or having dinner at my house.

We don’t always agree with one another, and successfully managing our differences is one key to the success of our relationship, and of our work together. It has been a productive relationship, too, in part because we each bring a different perspective to bear on the field. The biggest plus for me in this work has been the relationships I have been able to develop and the friendships which have flourished as a result. And, my work in the field has brought me into the lives of people I would otherwise never have met. In many ways, these are the best outcomes one could hope for.


The Emotionally Intelligent Manager : How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership
David R. Caruso and Peter Salovey (Jossey-Bass, 2004).

David Caruso, Ph.D., brings a rigorous scientific perspective to improving workplace performance. He is the co-founder of the EI Skills Group, and a Research Affiliate in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. He works with executives and leaders from major corporations in the areas of assessment and executive development. David is the co-author of the MEIS and MSCEIT, ability tests of emotional intelligence with colleagues John Mayer and Peter Salovey.

The MSCEIT test is available from Six Seconds. More information on the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso model and test are available online -- and you can reach Dr. Caruso on this site as well: www.eiSkills.com