In 1990, the science of emotional intelligence was launched with an intriguing paper by Peter Salovey and John Mayer.  Where conventional thinking says emotions are in the way of thinking, they suggested that, perhaps, emotions could assist thinking if used effectively.  Fueled in large part by Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book on the subject, we saw a wide and deep interest in the first decade to discover the meaning of this powerful concept (here is an article on the origins of emotional intelligence, interviewing Dan Goleman & Peter Salovey). 

In the 2000s, the concept was widely known, but yet unproven.  This second decade was a period of validation, where we learned that emotional intelligence is correlated with a wide variety of valuable outcomes in business, in education, and in life.  Dozens and dozens of research studies in this decade showed EQ predicts leadership effectiveness, sales, customer service, financial wellbeing, career progression, academic achievement, health, relationships, and positive behaviors.  While research is ongoing, by 2010 the case was well established.

What will the third decade bring?  In the past, initiatives on emotional intelligence were significant, but limited in scope.  They tended to focus on a pilot group — leaders were testing the concept.  In the last few years, we’ve seen more and more organizations integrating emotional intelligence into the fabric of their operation as a key to competitive advantage.  Just one example: we recently published the Amadori Case, a 3-year study showing the effects of making emotional intelligence a central part of organizational strategy.

The first NexusEQ Conference was held in 2000.  At that conference, the concept was new to many participants — and a major question was:  How do we define emotional intelligence?  By the 2005 NexusEQ Conference in Holland, the theme had shifted, and many presentations focused on how to measure the value of EI.  It’s powerful, today, to see the agenda of the 7th NexusEQ Conference — to be held at the Harvard Medical School Conference Center on June 24-26, 2013.  There are over 50 cases.  This is not a situation of “early exploration.”  We’re seeing a wide and deep application of this breakthrough concept.

As Daniel Goleman wrote yesterday, emotional intelligence has come of age.

This third decade of emotional intelligence is about application.  

Using the science and practice to create positive change — and on the agenda we can see this happening in remarkable ways.  From worldwide implementation at FedEx, to in-depth integration into elementary schools and universities, to transforming addiction, to saving the environment:  Emotional intelligence is the difference that makes the difference.  

These are foundational skills for human interaction, so in this third decade we’ll see emotional intelligence woven more deeply and powerfully into the fabric of our institutions and lives. It’s time not just to know, or to value, but to practice.


Thank you to Tanabe Yasuhiro, the Managing Director of Six Seconds Japan. Preparing for a presentation together, Tanabe-san raised this important point about the evolution of our work.

Follow me

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This