"The Emotional Intelligence Workshop," referencing insights from the book "Primal Leadership" by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee.

The Emotional Intelligence Workshop

(inspired by insights contained in the book "Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee)

Read time: 6 minutes

Emotional Intelligence, or EI, is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions.

As well as recognize and influence the emotions of others.

It helps you stay calm under pressure, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and resolve conflicts.

Essentially, it's about being smart with your feelings and using them to build better relationships and make thoughtful decisions.

The most effective leaders have high emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

These attributes are essential for creating a resonant leadership style that positively influences others.

What is “a resonant leadership style”?

Effective leaders create resonance.

Cover of the book "Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, featuring an illustration of a red and white magnet.

Which means they are attuned to their team members' emotions.

This resonance helps to motivate, inspire, and drive performance within the team or organization.

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee explore the critical role of emotional intelligence in leadership in their book “Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence”.

They introduce the Four Domains of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-Awareness: Recognizing and understanding one's own emotions.
  • Self-Management: Controlling and adapting one's emotions to circumstances.
  • Social Awareness: Understanding the emotions of others.
  • Relationship Management: Using awareness of one's own and others' emotions to manage interactions successfully.

The book identifies six leadership styles that stem from different aspects of emotional intelligence:

  • Visionary: Inspires others by creating a compelling vision of the future.
  • Coaching: Helps others improve their performance by developing their skills.
  • Affiliative: Builds harmony and emotional bonds among team members.
  • Democratic: Encourages participation and values input from team members.
  • Pacesetting: Sets high standards for performance and exemplifies them.
  • Commanding: Provides clear directions and expects compliance.

Each leadership style has its own strengths and weaknesses and is appropriate for different situations.

Effective leaders are flexible and can switch between styles as needed to meet the demands of their team and the organizational context.

I’ve created a 3-step workshop that provides a practical and interactive way for participants to develop and apply emotional intelligence in their leadership roles.

You can run it in about 5.5 hours.

It includes presentations of new key information, discussion exercises, self-assessments, role-playing, guided meditation, and ends with them creating a personal development plan. 

It's modular so if you have less time, you can easily remove activities to decrease the total time as you wish.

Let’s get into it…

Step 1: Self-Awareness and Self-Assessment

Objective: Participants will gain a deeper understanding of their own emotional intelligence strengths and areas for improvement.

Duration: 1.5 hours


1. Introduction and Overview (10 minutes):

  • Briefly introduce the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) and its importance in leadership (included in the download on this page).
  • Explain the four domains of EI: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

2. Self-Reflection Exercise (30 minutes):

  • Provide participants with a guided self-reflection worksheet that includes questions about their emotional responses, strengths, and challenges in leadership situations (included in the download on this page).
  • Questions could include: "Describe a recent situation where you felt a strong emotion at work. How did you handle it?" and "What are your greatest strengths as a leader?"

3. Emotional Intelligence Self-Assessment (30 minutes):

  • Administer a brief EI self-assessment (included in the download on this page).
  • Allow participants to score their assessments and reflect on the results.

4. Group Discussion (10 minutes):

  • Facilitate a group discussion where participants can share insights from their self-reflection and assessment.
  • Encourage participants to identify one key area they would like to develop further.

Step 2: Developing Self-Regulation & Empathy

Objective: Participants will learn techniques to manage their emotions and develop empathy towards others.

Duration: 2 hours


1. Introduction to Self-Regulation (10 minutes):

  • Explain the concept of self-regulation and its significance in leadership (included in the download on this page).
  • Introduce techniques such as pausing before reacting, reframing thoughts, and stress management.

2. Self-Regulation Practice (30 minutes):

  • Conduct a mindfulness exercise, such as a guided meditation or focused breathing session.
  • Provide scenarios for participants to practice pausing and reframing their thoughts (included in the download on this page).

3. Introduction to Empathy (10 minutes):

  • Create a definition for empathy together as a group and its role in effective leadership.
  • Discuss the importance of active listening and perspective-taking.

4. Empathy Building Exercise (30 minutes):

  • Pair participants and have them engage in an active listening exercise where one person shares a recent challenge and the other practices listening without interrupting or offering solutions.
  • Switch roles and repeat.

5. Role-Playing Scenarios (20 minutes):

  • In small groups, have participants role-play different workplace scenarios that require empathy (included in the download on this page).
  • Encourage participants to practice empathic responses and discuss their experiences afterward.

Step 3: Understanding & Applying Leadership Styles

Objective: Participants will learn about different leadership styles and how to apply them effectively in various situations.

Duration: 2 hours


1. Introduction to Leadership Styles (15 minutes):

  • Provide an overview of the six leadership styles identified in the book: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding (included in the download on this page).
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each style, and explain when each style is most appropriate.

2. Self-Assessment of Leadership Style (20 minutes):

  • Distribute a leadership style questionnaire that helps participants identify their predominant leadership style (included in the download on this page).
  • Participants complete the questionnaire and score their responses to determine their primary and secondary leadership styles.

3. Group Discussion on Leadership Styles (15 minutes):

  • Facilitate a discussion where participants share their results and reflect on how their predominant styles have influenced their leadership effectiveness.
  • Discuss the importance of flexibility and adapting leadership styles to different situations.

4. Role-Playing Scenarios (20 minutes):

  • Assign different leadership scenarios to small groups, with each group tasked to role-play the scenario using a specific leadership style (included in the download on this page).
  • After each role-play, discuss as a group the effectiveness of the style used and potential alternatives.

5. Personal Development Plan (20 minutes):

  • Guide participants in creating a personal development plan focused on enhancing their emotional intelligence (included in the download on this page).
  • The plan should include specific goals, strategies for development, and a timeline for reassessment.

6. Group Sharing and Commitment (10 minutes):

  • Allow participants to share one goal from their development plan with the group.
  • Encourage participants to commit to regular self-reflection and practice of EI skills.

Conclusion & Summary

This workshop structure provides a practical and interactive way for participants to develop and apply emotional intelligence in their leadership roles.

If you want the unbranded slides for this workshop, you can get them in my Tools & Activities Library.

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About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through WorkshopBank.com