emotionally intelligent smiling girl

How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Boost Motivation

No matter how smart a person is, their IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is not always a guarantee of high performance and productivity.  Some geniuses have blundered, not because they lacked expertise, but because they lacked emotional quotient (EQ), in other words, emotional intelligence. 

Ashley Zahabian, a renowned business strategist, is a committed campaigner of emotional intelligence. She attributes her hospitalization for severe anorexia as a teenager to her then lack of emotional intelligence, and her eyes opened to the importance of the skill.

She believes emotional intelligence is the key to succeed in your personal and professional life. In an article by Forbes, Zahabian indicated that “Every time that you invest in emotional intelligence, your outcome will be ten times better.”

But what is emotional intelligence and how can you achieve it to boost everyday motivation? Here’s what we’ve found. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

A significant part of being human is the ability to feel emotions. Emotions can be positive such as happiness or negative such as envy. They can be useful but can also hold you back, for instance, fear prompts you to escape dangerous situations, but it can also keep you from exploring new opportunities. Managing emotions thus requires a particular set of skills known as emotional intelligence which can be defined as the measure of a person’s capacity to identify and control both their emotions, and those of other people.

emotional intelligence quote
Emotional Intelligence quote

The idea of emotional intelligence was first popularized and associated with life success by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence.

Daniel found that high professional success requires more than IQ. An above average intelligence enables one to acquire technical skills such as medicine and law. But once these people get into the workforce, the only differentiator of those who rise above their peers is emotional intelligence.

According to a study by TalentSmart, a leader’s performance is 58% the result of emotional intelligence. Out of all top performers, 90% possess high emotional intelligence while out of low performers, only 20% have a high score in emotional intelligence.

If you can learn how to control your emotions, you can maintain the motivation to succeed in any endeavor. And if you can manage the emotions of others, you are capable of building a highly motivated team.

Goleman identified five elements which define emotionally intelligent people.


People who are high in emotional intelligence are always in tune with their emotions. They are not afraid to take an honest look at themselves, point out their strengths and weaknesses, and improve on what they can. They also trust their instincts.


They do not act on impulse but rather think before acting. They don’t allow themselves to have angry outbursts or jealousy fits. Emotionally intelligent people are always in control of their emotions.


Emotionally intelligent people have the ability to work with their eye on the long term goal. They are always effective and productive in what they do regardless of their present emotions.


Empathy is the ability to identify with the feelings of those around you. Emotionally intelligent people can understand the wants and needs of others and are excellent listeners.

Social Skills

Excellent social skills are a sign of emotional intelligence, and they make one a team player. Emotional intelligent people are excellent mediators and focus on helping others develop and shine.

How to Boost Motivation through Emotional Intelligence

Motivation comes from within a person and is subject to emotions. 

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand if you don’t have self-awareness if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman quote
Daniel Goleman Quote

Following Goleman’s edict we identify the following four elements of motivation.

Achievement Drive

Your ability and motivation to achieve a goal has to be driven by a strong inner desire to succeed. It has to come from within you and cannot be forced on you by external influences.

People with a high achievement drive strive for excellence and are result-oriented. They seek to improve their performance and achieve more than expected.

Achievement drive can only be present if you believe your goal is within reach, and think that you deserve to achieve it. It then builds a strong spirit and enthusiasm to work towards it despite the obstacles.

Attach meaning to your goal. If it’s a career, remind yourself why you got into it in the first place. Forget the numbers and focus on the deeper meaning the task in hand, holds for you.

A team leader who is not passionate about the team’s goals cannot cultivate the same passion in the team members.


To succeed in your pursuits, you need to come up with a strategy and stick to it. It entails making sacrifices when required and seeking opportunities to achieve your goals.

To stay committed, ensure that you are in the right mindset, prepared to hold nothing back but work until your goals are achieved. It means fighting laziness and procrastination.

Set your priorities right and have a clear mental picture of the end result. Focus on achieving this and be strong enough not to fall for short-term rewards. Sometimes, to stay committed, you need reinforcement in the form of role models and accountability partners. When stuck, get a coach who can guide you into a different perspective.

From time to time, stir up your commitment by reflecting on how bad you want to succeed.


Having initiative is the ability to assess and seize opportunities while overcoming the fear of failure. People with initiative are always willing to go beyond what is expected of them. They are innovative and are never trapped in a comfort zone. They seek opportunities from all corners and are never satisfied with the average performance.

Always try to do something extra with every task at hand. In your workplace, change your mindset by seeing yourself as a partner and not an employee. The company’s success then becomes your success, and it gives you the motivation to devote yourself to your duties.

At every opportunity ask yourself, “is this the best that can be done?” or “how can this be improved?”

If you are a team leader, motivate your team by giving your members a chance to share their ideas. Create a space where they are free to apply their creativity without fear of criticism.


Everyone enjoys being around optimistic people. They always look at the bright side of things. Optimistic leaders can successfully pull their team members through the worst setbacks without losing their members’ commitment to succeed.

A leader with a positive attitude knows how to reassure his team that their efforts account for something and keep them motivated and hopeful about the future. He can read and control the emotions of his members and always knows what to say to keep them going.

Individually, optimism keeps you working with great enthusiasm even when the future is not so bright. A positive attitude keeps you motivated in spite of how many times you fail.

Develop a learner’s mindset, taking each failure as an opportunity to learn. Emotionally intelligent people do not take failure personally. They see it as a result of specific identifiable causes that can be managed.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Motivation is critical in succeeding in life, and you can manage it by learning to control your emotions at any given time. It means being fully aware and in control of your weaknesses, having the ability to control your actions, reactions, and impulses so that they do not stand in the way of achieving your goals.

As a leader, understanding the emotions of your team member puts you at a better position to use the right words and the right incentives that can keep them focused on succeeding.

Build your emotional intelligence and learn to effectively influence your motivation and that of others.