The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) emerged in the 1990s. It has up until now been viewed as an individual competency. There is no denying the positive impact that individual EQ has had on individuals in the workplace. However, most work done today is done in teams and, thus, the focus is moving on to how to make teams as effective as possible.

Putting a group of emotionally intelligent individuals together, does not automatically create an emotionally intelligent team. A team takes on its own character, separate from the characters of the individuals. Team EQ is more complicated than individual EQ because teams interact at more levels.

According to Daniel Goleman’s definition of individual EQ, the major characteristics of Emotional Intelligence are:

  1. Personal Competence:
    1. Self-Awareness
    2. Self-Management
  2. Social Competence:
    1. Social Awareness
    2. Relationship Management

Personal competence, in Goleman’s words, comes from being aware of and regulating your own emotions. Social competence is awareness and regulation of others’ emotions. Below, in Figure 1, the behaviours and characteristics of a highly emotionally intelligent individual are described.

Looking at team EQ, a group must attend to three other levels of awareness and regulation, as shown below.

Each level will be explained in more detail below.

Individual Level

  • Working with Individual’s Emotions: Understanding sources of individual’s behaviour and taking steps to address problematic behaviour.
  • Regulating Individual’s Emotions: Handling confrontation effectively.

Group Level

  • Working with Group Emotions: Having norms for group self-awareness (emotional states, strengths and weaknesses, modes of interaction and task processes).
  • Regulating Group Emotions: Establishing norms that strengthen group members’ ability to respond effectively to the kind of emotional challenges a group confronts on a daily basis.

Cross-Boundary Level

  • Working with Emotions Outside of the Group: Identifying and supporting other groups’ expectations and needs.

The Human Interest Elite Team Model currently describes the building blocks of an elite team. It is no surprise that, if all those building blocks are in place, it should result in an emotionally intelligent team. The correlation between team EQ constructs and the Human Interest model characteristics is shown below:


Druskat, U.V. & Wolff, S.B. (2001). Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Goleman, D. P. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Enjoyed our thinking?
Get in touch to understand how we can support you.