Emotional Intelligence and Behavior Modification

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Within the set of managerial skills required by organizations, the new ones do not seize to appear, and, in recent years, most of them come from the soft skills area. Emotional intelligence tops the list, while behavior modification represents one of the strategies to provide incentives for organization members. In the framework of this essay, the issues of emotional intelligence and behavior modification and their respective importance will be addressed.

Emotional intelligence and its role in any area from business to diplomacy should not be underestimated. It is often considered to be one of the factors leading to change in an organization or a governmental body. The concept itself was developed by Daniel Goleman to enrich the discussion on influencing and guiding people to achieve better performance (Certo & Certo, 2016). Emotional intelligence is the capacity to recognize and manage the feelings of one’s own and of others, to motivate, show empathy, and build stable relationships (Certo & Certo, 2016).

Studies show that managers with high levels of emotional intelligence are more successful at establishing a trust-based culture within their area of responsibility, and achieve more efficiency both interpersonally and in regards to their work goals (Certo & Certo, 2016). While successfully creating working environments characterized by freedom of opinion and communication, these managers introduce change with fewer costs and resistance, coming mainly from the human fear of the unknown (Issah, 2018). Thus, emotionally intelligent managers are better performers and leaders; they know how to establish a productive corporate culture and employ personal approaches, taking into account the variety of people’s characters.

There are different perspectives on the emotional intelligence concept. The first one is the “ability model” which concentrates on the overall capacity to process emotional information and utilize it (Issah, 2018). The second perspective is the “trait model” which focuses on self-perceived abilities and behavioral inclinations (Issah, 2018). Finally, there is the “mixed model” that represents the combination of the two models mentioned above (Issah, 2018). While the second model describes some predispositions a person has, specifically in emotion-related situations, the first one concerns the ability to use the knowledge a person has in those situations (Issah, 2018).

Generally, there are five components of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skill (Issah, 2018). This list offers a perspective on the concept as a whole, combining both self-related dimensions and those of outgoing orientation.

While the definition and application of the concept are clear, its importance in the changing paradigm of leadership needs to be emphasized. Thus, the critical component of introducing change is the extent to which the leader can communicate it to the members of the organization (Issah, 2018). The change will inevitably provoke reluctant behavior, but it comes to emotionally intelligent managers or leaders to handle the emotions and proceed with the plan (Issah, 2018).

It is also apparent that facilitating a winning team is essential to establish a productive environment and spread the implementation of decisions, and emotionally intelligent leaders have a competitive advantage over others in these processes. By appealing to the emotions of their subordinates and knowing how to communicate the message, they motivate others to improve their performance (Issah, 2018). Overall, such managers adapt to the changes easier, do not lose focus, and stay result-oriented, not depending on the external conditions.

Emotional intelligence refers to the qualities that make up an effective manager, but what are the practices that can be applied to motivate an employee to become effective? Behavior modification is one of the options, and it refers to the process of encouragement of some behavior by controlling its consequences (Certo & Certo, 2016). In other words, it implies a system of rewards and punishments with an emphasis on the former designed to motivate an employee to improve their performance in order to be rewarded. This concept appeared back in the 1960s, becoming one of the outcomes of the cognitive-oriented theories boom and drawing the attention of the scholars in the area (Hersen et al., 2015).

The underlying assumption behind it was that individuals are passive and reactive, so they are likely to respond to some external influence, rather than claim their personal responsibility (Hersen et al., 2015). The social-learning theory was gaining popularity and relied heavily on the behavior modification concept, but the gap between theory and managerial practices in the 1970s was not that easy to bridge (Hersen et al., 2015). It took a while for it to develop into an appropriate tool in organizational management, widely used by companies nowadays.

From the existing theoretical perspective, behavior modification includes multiple components – positive and negative reinforcement, both of which ensure that the consequences take place, depending on what effect the behavior of a subordinate had (Certo & Certo, 2016). Last but not least is the punishment (Certo & Certo, 2016). This measure is applied in case the reinforcement techniques failed to address the problem. Other ingredients should be incorporated to make this strategy work.

For example, rewards should differ, according to the quality of the performance (Certo & Certo, 2016). Besides, employees should have a clear understanding of their mistakes, but they should not be punished publicly (Certo & Certo, 2016). Finally, the rewards and punishments should amount to the contribution or the lack of it made, so that employees would see that there is some thorough evaluation behind the system (Certo & Certo, 2016). While behavior modification appears to be a valuable contribution to the process of creating incentives within an organization, there are both positive and negative cases of using it.

Employing behavior modification requires the necessity to follow some specifically developed criteria or program, the absence of which leads to its failure. Some basic examples would include control of the management over employees that come late to work (Certo & Certo, 2016). Therefore, if negative reinforcement measures are introduced, the probability of the workers arriving late again is decreased.

There are multiple studies, examining ways to increase performance in companies, where the behavior of employees is left out of the analysis. Others introduce no efforts in order to retain the aspects favorable to the realization of the goals of an organization. Some of these studies conclude that a sense of mutual gain is what is lacking for the employees to do better (Obiageli et al., 2016). Therefore, by rewarding employees and giving them some power regarding the decision-making, a company can motivate them to perform at another level and, most importantly, to commit (Obiageli et al., 2016). For any employee, knowing they are an integral part of an organization they work for, provides willingness and motivation to do their best.


Certo, S. C., & Certo, S. T. (2016). Modern management: Concepts and skills (14th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Hersen, M., Eisler, R. M., & Miller, P. M. (Eds). (2015). Progress in behavior modification (Vol. 12). New York, NY: Academic Press.

Issah, M. (2018). Change leadership: The role of emotional intelligence. SAGE Open, 8(3), 1-6.

Obiageli, O. L., Uzochukwu, O. C., Leo, O., & Angela, A. I. (2016). Behavior modification and employee performance in selected paint manufacturing companies in Anambra state. Journal of Business and Management, 18(9), 44-53.

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