The Top 13 Emotional Intelligence Books

Dynamic work environments require managers, leaders, and employees to focus on new concepts that constantly change how people perceive the workplace. And with the advent of remote and hybrid work arrangements, the need for new approaches is nascent but necessary. That’s what makes emotional intelligence such a powerful tool.

With the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions — as well as the emotions of others — emotional intelligence and emotional learning have become paramount. Yet understanding how emotional intelligence can improve the workplace can feel daunting.

Fortunately, emotional intelligence books by psychologists and businessmen alike delve into the concepts of the topic, providing concrete details on its basis and how to apply it to the workplace. If something’s missing in your management, leadership, or employment approach, these 13 emotional intelligence books should provide simple ways to decipher and utilize this crucial idea.

Why Emotional Intelligence Should Be Part of Your Skillset

A group of frustrated employees sitting around a table

Managing your emotions on the job — especially negative emotions — is part of social awareness and a crucial factor in management, leadership, and employment. It doesn’t coincide with your ability to work, but rather, an emotional skill that gives you insight into the minds of others.

Inwardly, emotional intelligence centers on practicing self-awareness and self-management as it relates to your emotions. If you’re not sure what you’re feeling, your well-being and leadership skills can suffer.

Emotional intelligence acts as a gauge of emotions — what you’re feeling, what others are feeling, and how to use it to motivate, negotiate, self-regulate, and offer empathy.

For the uninitiated, emotional intelligence is a complex topic that can make some uncomfortable, especially those not usually in tune with their emotions. But by understanding the science and social importance of emotional intelligence, every worker from CEO to entry-level employee can benefit.

13 of the Best Emotional Intelligence Books for Leaders, Managers, and Employees

Man sitting at a desk reading a book with a cup of coffee

Think of emotional intelligence books as a mix of self-help, case studies, and practical guides all working to improve your interactions with others. Contained in these pages is a wealth of know-how that helps you understand others’ motivations, as well as your own.

Mastering emotional intelligence takes time and practice. But with comprehension and real-world application, these emotional intelligence books — paired with other great management books — can make you adept at relationship management, hone your interpersonal skills, and make you an indispensable part of something bigger.

Find out more about emotional intelligence and how it can improve your professional life with 13 of the best emotional intelligence books available today.

1. The Emotionally Intelligent Manager by Peter Salovey

President of Yale University and a pioneer in social intelligence, Peter Salovey’s “The Emotionally Intelligent Manager” was a groundbreaking book and the first to theorize that emotion isn’t counter to reason. By understanding and utilizing emotion, managers and leaders have the ability to motivate and create productive outcomes.

This emotional intelligence book contains numerous ways for managers to develop their skills through actionable examples in the workplace.

2. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“How To Win Friends and Influence People” is arguably the most important self-help book written, with its contents holding true over eight decades. Though it doesn’t discuss the concept of emotional intelligence outright — as it wasn’t studied until 50 years after the book’s 1936 publication — it’s the practical approach outlined within that helps you apply emotional intelligence. And as the book implies, win friends and influence others.

Based on the 3 C’s — don’t complain, don’t condemn, and don’t criticize — the book embodies an actionable approach to emotional intelligence. Over the years, even Lee Iacocca and Warren Buffet have mentioned this book as one of the most influential management books in business and their personal lives.

3. Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness by Annie McKee, Frances Johnston, and Richard E. Boyatzis

Resonant leadership is a concept that managers can foster positive relationships with employees through emotional intelligence. This, in turn, allows them to create and support a positive work environment.

That’s the core tenet of “Becoming a Resonant Leader,” making it a solid emotional intelligence book to add to your collection. Through resonance and emotional intelligence, leaders can manage different various work personalities and forge relationships with coworkers and subordinates that are open and honest. With this approach, readers can provide a nurturing workplace for everyone to succeed.

4. The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

Empathy is one of the most important facets of emotional intelligence, but it’s often the hardest to grasp and practice. Being empathetic with work associates is more difficult simply because you don’t always know the personal circumstances and lives of coworkers.

In “The Art of Empathy,” Kayla McLaren explores the idea of empathy and how knowledge of it can unlock a breadth of emotional intelligence and leadership skills. With activities and exercises to practice empathy, readers have a practical guide that can prepare them for real-world scenarios.

5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Thanks to updates for the modern workplace, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” is often regarded as the best emotional intelligence book available today. Authored by the creators of TalentSmart — an emotional intelligence assessment — the book discusses vital information on emotional intelligence from an empirical standpoint.

Through data collection, the book dives into emotional intelligence based on age, gender, and culture. This leads to different ways of handling self-awareness, relationship management, and social awareness based on each person’s team. It also contains an emotional intelligence self-assessment that works as a great stepping stone to learn more about yourself.

6. HBR's 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence by Harvard Business Review

If you want an invaluable resource as a new manager in a succinct and less time-consuming manner, “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence” is the perfect fit. Rather than reading a few hundred pages, this publication contains 10 articles written by leading figures in management. With bite-size articles on the topic, you can use a few spare minutes to brush up on the topic.

7. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Dr. Susan David

Using anecdotes and research from Harvard Medical School psychologist Dr. Susan David, “Emotional Agility” uncovers ways a manager, leader, or employee can overcome negative emotions. By identifying these emotions, you can turn them into positives that align with your personal and core values — transforming yourself and the workplace.

8. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

Authored by three leading authorities on management and emotional intelligence, “Primal Leadership” discusses how a grasp of emotional intelligence shapes a workplace for the better.

In this USA Today top-selling book, the authors discuss how emotion is a primal instinct, but under the right guidance, it’s a way to promote positive relationships with employees. By mastering the six styles of leadership as they relate to working with emotional intelligence — pacesetting, commanding, coaching, democratic, visionary, and affiliative — leaders have a holistic approach to managing people and resolving conflict.

9. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

First printed in 1995, “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ” is The New York Times bestselling book that’s transformed how companies and individuals look at emotional intelligence.

The book posits that hard skills and intelligence aren’t the sole aspects of workplace success. Emotional Intelligence, he argues, is every bit as important as a hard skillset, allowing organizations to overcome difficulties, impulses, and emotions faced by workers.

10. Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

If you want a neuroscience-backed approach to emotional intelligence, “Social Intelligence” is a must-read. Goleman builds upon his previous publications by discussing that IQ tests aren’t a great measuring stick for leadership abilities. Emotional intelligence — a subset of social intelligence — is as much of an indicator of success.

The book goes outside the workplace to discuss how social intelligence shapes others’ opinions of us and our opinion of ourselves. With a mindful and thoughtful approach each and every day, you’re able to impact social and psychological welfare.

11. The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success by Steven J. Stein and Howard E. Book

Packed with case studies and a helpful emotional intelligence assessment test, “The EQ Edge” helps you discover your strengths and weaknesses in the emotional intelligence realm. By making a concerted effort to practice self-reflection and self-awareness, you can project your positive emotions while understanding the plights of others.

12. Go Suck a Lemon: Strategies for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence by Michael Cornwall

How you talk to yourself is a window into your feelings and internal emotional intelligence. But if you’re “sour-talking” yourself, you can go down a path to self-destruction and emptiness.

It’s a dark theme, but one that “Go Suck a Lemon” discusses with enticement, brevity, and self-help. If you’re talking down to yourself subconsciously, this emotional intelligence book helps you find ways to have more positive conversations with yourself. The result is more confidence, self-awareness, and happiness.

13. The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown

If you don’t have time to read, “The Power of Vulnerability” is an audiobook that should take the doldrums out of your errands or daily commute. In these live lectures, professor and New York Times best-selling author Brené Brown discusses how vulnerability is an integral part of human connection — not a weakness.

By being vulnerable, you increase your awareness of emotional intelligence and become more than just a figurehead — you become a source of strength among your workers and peers.

Read as Much as You Can To Reach Your Potential as a Leader, Manager, or Employee

Emotional intelligence is a must in the modern workplace. It helps you understand others, improve your social skills, and even more importantly, understand yourself.

But don’t confine yourself to books solely on emotional intelligence. The best books are the ones that make you think and offer tidbits you can easily apply at work. Whether you want to become a better employee, manager, or leader, books help you unlock your potential in ways other media can’t. So crack open a book (or power up your Amazon Kindle), turn off the TV, and take one step closer to becoming the best version of yourself.

👉Strengthening your EQ is a start. Access our Free Training to continue your transformation into a Unicorn Leader.

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