Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. —Chinese Proverb

Imagine a world where we couldn’t perceive when a co-worker is frustrated or a friend is upset. Because of emotional intelligence (EQ), we can connect with people beyond the superficial and create rewarding interactions at work and beyond.

Research shows that EQ is a differentiator between great leaders and average ones. Author, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman studied executives at nearly 200 companies and found EQ to be twice as relevant to performance in comparison with both IQ and technical ability. At top levels, EQ accounted for a 90-percent difference between the best and the rest.

Harvard Business Review, in a video titled “What Makes a Great Leader?,” shares the five interconnected components of EQ, as defined by Goleman, and the ways in which these qualities define good leadership:

1. self-awareness: understanding ones own emotions and their affect on others.
2. self-regulation: the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses.
3. motivation: passion to work with energy and persistence for reasons beyond money or status.
4. empathy: ability to understand the emotional needs of others and treat them accordingly.
5. social skill: proficiency in managing relationships, developing networks, building rapport and finding common ground.

These combined skills help leaders be confident and candid, develop and retain talent, manage cross-cultural sensitivities, become more persuasive, assess their own strengths and weaknesses realistically, gain trust, become comfortable with ambiguity and open to change, commit to the organization and create change.

Because these components are interconnected, the good news is that honing your ability in any one area improves upon them all. October is Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month, so what better time to get started?

For mindfulness exercises to boost your EQ, see chapters 5 (“Riding Your Emotions Like a Horse”), 6 (“Marking Profits, Rowing Across Oceans and Changing the World”), 7 (“Empathy and the Monkey Business of Brain Tangos”) and 8 (“Being Effective and Loved at the Same Time) of Search Inside Yourself.