The EQ Stress-Management Domain and Leadership


Do a Google search on the term “leadership” and you get over 101 million results. Leadership is subjective – you can’t build an assessment that pinpoints who will be a great leader in a particular situation. You can, however, create a mosaic of sorts around characteristics, traits, skills, and past experiences that are important to your organization. And from that mosaic seek out candidates that align with the organizational culture, growth phase of the company, management climate, and a host of other criteria.

Technical and functional skills will clearly be part of the mosaic. Hard research is now showing that emotional intelligence plays a role in the success or failure of a leader. Many models exist and each model has its pros and cons. What is becoming clear is that a few models, supported by substantial peer reviewed data, form the basis for much of what we know regarding emotional intelligence. MHS has conducted significant research around the Reuven Bar-On model – 5 domains and 15 sub-scales – and how it has direct application to leadership development.

Stress Management

In a word, stress management is about resilience.
re·sil·ience (rəˈzilyəns)
  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

This domain helps you to understand your ability to remain calm, focused, and poised when your beliefs or your cognitive and emotional capacities are challenged. Can you adjust, right the ship, trim the sails, and move on? The ever-changing landscape of priorities in business, healthcare, and family life demand that we juggle multiple things and keep a positive attitude.


The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. ~ Albert Einstein

Flexibility is the ability for us to adjust our emotions and behaviors as situations unfold that are contrary to our initial view. Not all things go as planned – vacations, the close on a big account, or a relationship. Our career path might be derailed. Financial pressures mount.

We all have routines. Driving the same way to work. Our routine for getting ready for work in the morning. Routines help the brain conserve energy. We don’t have to think about what is next. We just do the first thing, then the second thing, and move our way through the process. What various set routines do you have in your daily life? What would you like to alter in these routines? Maybe you want to reflect on gratitude the first thing in the morning. Maybe you want to journal about your thoughts on the upcoming events for that day. Find one thing to change or add in your routine and make it a goal to get if fully implemented.

Stress Tolerance

It is not the stress that kills us. It is effective adaptation to stress that allows us to live. ~ George Vaillant

Adverse events come into our lives. Some are foisted upon us. Some are the result of prior decisions or behavior. Regardless of the genesis of the stress, our ability to tolerate the stress without developing debilitating physical or emotional symptoms is another facet of emotional intelligence. This ability is based on three criteria:

  • What is our capacity to choose a healthy course of action to deal with the stress?
  • How optimistic are you towards learning new things, change in general, or having a growth mindset?
  • To what degree do you feel that you can stay calm and maintain control?

We are primed for the fight or flight response. In the book Crucial Conversations, the authors refer to it as silence or violence. Take their short assessment to determine your particular style in stressful situations. It is a real eye opener.


The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case.” ~ Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism, 1991.

The pessimist says “I should have done this” or “I should have done that.” Stop “should-ing” on yourself! Over the coming weeks take note of situations that result in a disappointment or setback. What was the conversation that you had with yourself? How have others overcome similar challenges? Know when you are in a fixed mindset and when you are in a growth mindset. Ask questions that lead you towards a growth mindset.

Here is a look at low and high values of Stress-Management. Stay tuned as we continue to look at each of the five areas of the Reuven Bar-On model of Emotional Intelligence. Each blog post will provide you with exercises aimed to help you reflect on and increase your awareness in each area.


The EQ Edge

Primal Leadership