Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Management

12 July 2018

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Management 
Prepared By: Dr. Mounah Geha 
Lecturer on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence at the American University of Beirut, Director of two PhD dissertations on Emotional Intelligence at Saint Joseph University


Emotional Intelligence is gaining more attention every year throughout the world. Many books have been written on this topic and some of them have been best sellers. A lot of international companies are giving this topic attention and organize courses for their staff on the subject. The United States, Canada, Australia, the Scandinavians and other countries are introducing Emotional Intelligence into their school curriculum because they believe it is important. Emotional Intelligence is based on brain science and most of the books written about Emotional Intelligence are written by scientists. Advances in Emotional Intelligence and Brain Science encourage scientists to continue learning more on the subject. Some people have mentioned that the 21st Century may be known as the century of brain science.

Leadership training in Lebanon has improved and increased in frequency over the last 50 years. Previously leadership training courses emphasized 17 skills and characteristics of a successful leader (none of which are related to Emotional Intelligence).  Currently more than sixty different skills are associated with successful leaders.  Some of the terms we are using today in our training on leadership and management were not known before, such as: Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Styles, Mindfulness, Focus, and Flow…etc.

This article will introduce:

• the latest in the fields of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Management

•some of the concepts and competencies that may be relevant to the Lebanese situation

•ideas that are essential to the military, political, social, and management fields.


The Latest in Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as: the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions[1].

Travis Bradberry and Jane Greaves, in their book Leadership 2.0, defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships[2].Research has proven that when it comes to performance and success, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is more important than Intelligence Quotient (IQ) because only 20% of people who have high IQ’s are high performers in real life while 80% of those that have a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) are high performers.

This is true of all professions, including the military. Chade-Meng Tan, the author of Search Inside Yourself[3], mentioned this is true in the US Navy. The leadership specialist Wallace Bachman showed that most US Navy commanders are, “more positive and outgoing, more emotionally expressive and dramatic, warmer and sociable (including smiling more), friendlier, and more democratic, more cooperative, more likable and ‘fun to be with’, more appreciative and trustful, and even gentler than those who are merely average[4].

Travis Bradberry and Jane Greaves in their book Leadership 2.0 describe how emotional intelligence works by saying:

“Here is how it works: everything you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch travel through your body in the form of electrical signals. These signals pass from cell to cell until they reach their ultimate destination in your brain”[5].

The challenges for dealing wisely with our emotions are not easy because:

1. Our brains are genetically designed to give emotions the upper hand.

2. The information we receive from our body and our environment has to pass through both the brain stem and the cerebellum before reaching our rational brain.

3. We have to experience things emotionally before we can analyze them rationally.

4. The rational part of our brain, especially the prefrontal cortex (usually referred to as the command center of the brain), cannot stop the effect of emotions but if we are well trained we can deal with the emotions, delay their effect and direct them in a positive rational way. The interaction between the rational and emotional brain is the physical source for emotional intelligence. It is important to emphasize that with training this interaction can be developed in a positive way to increase emotional intelligence.

To better understand emotional intelligence we need to discuss brain science first but before we do that let’s check our information by taking a quick test on information related to brain science. 


The following simple self-test will check your information about brain science and perhaps add to what you already know. Correct answers are based on the averages. Please answer True (T) or False (F)


1- The brain of modern humans is exactly the same as primitive human beings.

2- Men are less able to focus on more than one thing at a time than women are.

3- The right side of the brain controls motor skills of the left side of the body.

4- The brains of men and women are exactly the same.

5- Every part of the body is connected to a specific spot in the brain.

6- Men have more connections between the left and right sides of the brain than women do.

7- The number of knowledge cells (neuron cells) in the human brain is more than the total population on earth.

8- The mind and the brain are the same thing.

9- If we get upset it is our fault not the fault of the person or event that upset us.

10- Brain cells regenerate often just as skin cells do.


(Correct answers are at the end of the article.)


Now let’s take a quick look at the human brain.


The above are simple diagrams of the brain. The human brain is a very complex organ, and our information about this organ is still limited and not very much understood by scientists. In fact, we know much more about outer space than we know about the human brain. After the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research of the brain has increased and improved.

To simplify understanding emotional intelligence let’s consider only three main divisions of the brain: stem, cerebellum and the rest (everything above brainstem and cerebellum in the diagram above) which is usually referred to as the rational brain.

Brain Stem: Is in charge of all involuntary actions of the body including respiration, heart rate, circulation of blood, digestion, etc.

Cerebellum (emotional brain): This is where all emotions are experienced.

The Rational Brain: This area consists of four lobes – frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital).

Through our five senses we detect information that is carried to the brain through the nervous system. It arrives first in the brain stem where it is filtered and then is  sent to the cerebellum before it is analyzed by the rational brain.

After the brain receives information it reacts in one of two ways. The reaction of the emotional brain is referred to as the bottom up mind and the reaction of the rational brain is referred to as the top down mind.  It is worth mentioning that when the term brain is used we are referring to the organ inside our skull and when we refer to mind we are speaking of the brain in action.


Characteristics of the bottom-up mind and the top-down mind

Because the bottom up mind is characterized by automatic quick reactions it often impacts behavior before the rational mind can analyze and respond in a rational way. Emotionally intelligent people are able to have their top down mind in control instead of reacting to the directions given by their bottom up mind. This can be achieved through emotional intelligence skills that can be learned and applied in real life situations. Examples of some skills that may help are: mindfulness, breathing skills, stress management skills, etc. These skills can be taught through training courses and will help people to build and increase their emotional intelligence.


The following facts about the brain will further explain how these exercises will help improve our emotional intelligence:

•The brain learns through patterning

•The brain needs predictability

•The brain seeks meaning

•The brain needs repetition

•The brain needs rehearsing

•The brain learns through feedback

•The brain is social

•The brain has the characteristic of neuroplasticity (Neuroplasticity means that the brain is flexible and able to learn, adapt and improve.)



It has been my experience that trainees attending my courses on emotional intelligence become aware of positive changes in themselves that occur as an outcome of the training they receive. They have reported to me that others around them have commented on and confirmed these positive changes. This verifies that emotional intelligence can be improved by training and is consistent with what brain science has shown.


The six dimensions of Emotional Styles as stated by Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley are[6]:

•Resilience: how slowly or quickly you recover from adversity.

•Outlook: how long you are able to sustain positive emotion.

•Social Intuition: how adept you are at picking up social signals from the people around you.

•Self Awareness: how well you perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions.

•Sensitivity to Context: how good you are at regulating your emotional responses to take into account the context you find yourself in.

•Attention: how sharp and clear your focus is.


Scientists have done studies of the brain and identified specific areas in the brain that control the above styles. They have found that with various techniques and training people have been able to improve their emotional styles and increase their emotional intelligence scores.



Emotional intelligence has proven to be important in education, management, institutional development and for individuals. Countries such as Canada, USA, Australia, and Scandinavia (and others) are making emotional intelligence part of the school curriculum. Major companies are including emotional intelligence in their training of employees. At an individual level, emotionally intelligent people are happier, healthier, better team members, and more content with their lives. Emotional intelligence training may be one way to bring opposing elements together. This is especially important to the Lebanese community with its diverse backgrounds, religions, political groups and people. It is my opinion that emotional intelligence skills should be introduced at all levels and to all people within Lebanon.



To introduce emotional intelligence to any group or institution (including the Army), the following steps should be taken into account:

1.Form a committee to assess the present situation and pinpoint weaknesses and points that needs to be improved. The needs assessment should be done in a scientific way utilizing more than one research tool (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, etc)

2.Formulate recommendations based on the findings.

3.Set clear objectives for development and the introduction of emotional intelligence skills.

4. Develop a strategic plan with:

a. clear mission, vision and values

b. clear short, medium and long term goals

c. well defined activities

d. clear time table

e. clear evaluation criteria

f. all resources, money and personnel available

5. Implement the plan

6. Evaluate, correct and improve

7. Make annual and semi-annual revisions of the plan. Create action plans to adjust and improve the plan as needed.

8. Repeat the above cycle


Background of courses delivered by Dr. Mounah Geha


The following is a list of some of our experiences and training courses we have given:


Management & Human Resource Development Training Courses:


  • Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Management
  • Leadership courses for NGO’s and Municipalities (from level I to level V)
  • Strategic Planning
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Performance Management
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Customer Service Development
  • Quality Service
  • Human Resource Development
  • Needs Assessment
  • Project Planning
  • Project Management and Evaluation
  • Problem Solving
  • Time Management
  • Communication
  • Group Dynamics
  • Stress Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Management of Change
  • Personality Types
  • Training of Trainers
  • Leadership Skills for Upper Management
  • Leadership Skills for Middle Management
  • A Seminar on Productive Management
  • Coping with Stress
  • Information and Communication within the Organization
  • Motivating Employees
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Public Administration Organizational Performance Measurement
  • Others

 Educational and Teacher Development Training Courses:


  • Teacher Training
  • Curriculum Development
  • Teaching of Health Education as an Integrated Subject
  • Teaching of Environment Education as an Integrated Subject
  • Emotional Intelligence in Education
  • The latest in Brain Science
  • Developing Emotional Intelligence Curriculum K-12
  • Teaching of Emotional Intelligence as an Integrated Subject
  • Emotional Intelligence Activities for Students K-12
  • Leadership Skills for Teachers
  • Extra Curricular Activities for Students
  • Learning Styles
  • School Management
  • Performance Appraisal for Teachers and Academic Staff
  • Classroom Management
  • School Discipline
  •  Others


     Health and Environment Training Courses:


  • Strategic Planning for Health Care Organizations
  • Improving the Quality of Health Care
  • Organizational Reform in Hospitals
  • Leadership Skills Nurses
  • Leadership Skills for Health Personnel
  • Emotional Intelligence for Health Personnel
  • Environmental Awareness for NGO’s and Municipalities
  • Strategic Planning in the Field of Environment for NGO’s and Municipalities
  • Current Environment Information relevant to NGO’s and Municipalities
  • Environmental Activities for Youth and Youth Leaders
  • Others