Workshop: “How does Emotional Intelligence Feel? (International Association of Management Spirituality and Religion)

This workshop was presented at the Internaltional Association of Management, Spirituality, and Religion conference in Fayetteville, AR (USA) 18-20 May 2017.


Emotional intelligence, as made popular by Goleman (1998, 2006), has become a well-known concept in leadership education and practice. Building on findings in neuroscience and clinical psychology, the concept is perceived as “scientific” and thus easy to relate to for students and practicing managers. Emotional intelligence is, however, a practice-based skill that needs to be developed through experience. One needs to feel emotional intelligence, rather than understanding it with the mind.

In this workshop, I introduce a simple structure for integrating the conceptual ideas of emotional intelligence – especially self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy – with straightforward exercises that makes it easy for students develop an embodied understanding of the concepts. The bridge between theory and practice builds on Marshal Rosenberg’s (2004)ideas about non-violent communication. In this workshop, I use two particular decks of playing cards to help participants connect with their feelings and needs in the exercises.

For several years, this workshop has been given in management courses at the Stockholm School of Economics as a way to connect emotional intelligence to the students’ practical group work in other courses. Thus, it offers an appreciated entry point to integrate the teachings on emotional intelligence with group dynamics in general (e.g. Runsten & Werr, 2015).

Intended audience

People who are interested in facilitating processes that integrate spirituality-based concepts with the everyday practices of management and leadership, especially emotional intelligence, empathy, non-violent communication, and group dynamics.


Many potentially powerful concepts are currently flourishing in the field of management spirituality, but the students need to develop their own experience of these concepts (Zajonc & Palmer). Thus, we need to develop and share methods in which an embodied understanding of these can be experienced. In other words, the traditional teaching approaches needs to be integrated with contemplative practices aimed at opening and connecting to participants’ inner world (Barbezat & Bush, 2013). This workshop contributes to the development of this kinds of practices.


In this workshop, we will go back and forth between practical exercises and conceptual frameworks. I will also discuss how the workshop have been applied in the context of a master program in management with the purpose facilitating group work and personal development over time.


The takeaways are threefold. First, the workshop will help participants to further develop their own emotional skills. Secondly, they will learn a method for teaching embodied emotional intelligence to students and/or to managers. Thirdly, a general understanding of how this type of work may link into the larger context of a program will be acquired.


Barbezat, D. P., & Bush, M. (2013). Contemplative practices in higher education: Powerful methods to transform teaching and learning: John Wiley & Sons.

Goleman, D. (1998). What Makes a Leader? Harvard business review, 76(6), 93-102.

Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence: Random House LLC.

Rosenberg, M. B. (2004). Nonviolent communication: Sounds True.

Runsten, P., & Werr, A. (2015). Kunskapsintegration. Om kollektiv intelligens i organisationer [Knowledge integration. On collective intelligence in organizations]. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur.

Zajonc, A., & Palmer, P. The heart of higher education.