Emotional Intelligence: Leadership Essentials for Chest Medicine Professionals

Chest. 2021 May;159(5):1942-1948. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.09.093. Epub 2020 Sep 19.


Emotional intelligence (EI) has become widely appreciated as an important leadership attribute, in business, education and, increasingly, in health care. Defined as "the capacity to understand your own and others' emotions and to motivate and develop yourself and others in service of improved work performance and enhanced organizational effectiveness," EI is correlated with a number of success attributes in several sectors; for example, in business, with enhanced business performance and enhanced personal career success, and in health care, with enhanced patient satisfaction, lower burnout, lower litigation risk, and enhanced leadership success. While multiple models of EI have evolved, perhaps the most popular model is framed around four general rubrics with component competencies. The general rubrics are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. EI can be measured by using available instruments, and it can be learned and taught. Indeed, teaching EI has become increasingly common in health-care organizations in service of improving health care and health-care leadership. Although more research is needed, ample evidence supports the notion that EI is a critical success element for success as a health-care leader, especially because EI competencies differ markedly from the clinical and scientific skills that are core to being a clinician and/or investigator. This review of EI presents evidence in support of the relevance of EI to health care and health-care leadership, discusses how and when EI can be developed among health-care providers, and considers remaining questions.

Keywords: emotional intelligence; leadership; relationship management; self-awareness; self-management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Pulmonary Medicine*