10 must-read emotional intelligence books for leaders

10 must-read emotional intelligence books for leaders

Strong leaders have strong EQ. These books can help you hone all aspects of your emotional intelligence – from showing empathy to having difficult conversations

210 readers like this


June 12, 2018

Emotional intelligence often separates great leaders from mediocre ones. It's also a skill set that can be learned. So even if  EQ isn't your strong suit today, with some practice, you could be well on your way to developing an effective leadership style that taps into the best of both your head and your heart.

[ Working on your emotional intelligence? Learn the behaviors to avoid as you build your EQ: 10 things leaders with emotional intelligence never do. ]

To help you get there, we've rounded up 10 insightful books for IT and business leaders. Each offers guidance and wisdom that you can use to hone all aspects of your emotional intelligence – including understanding your strengths, dealing better with failure, and leading with empathy and mindfulness. Let's dig in:

[ Enter our contest for a chance to win a book from this list. ]

On Emotional Intelligence

By: Harvard Business Review

About: Featuring articles from Daniel Goleman and other leading thinkers on emotional intelligence, this book is a great starting point if you're just beginning your EQ development journey. From the Amazon description: "If you read nothing else on emotional intelligence, read these 10 articles by experts in the field. We’ve combed through hundreds of articles in the Harvard Business Review archive and selected the most important ones to help you boost your emotional skills―and your professional success."

EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence

By: Justin Bariso

About: EQ can be a fuzzy topic. But this book offers examples of what emotional intelligence concepts look like in action. From the Amazon description: "In this age of social media attacks, constant distraction, and rampant corruption, a high emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ, is more important than ever. Justin Bariso brings the concept of emotional intelligence up to date and into the real world, combining scientific research with high-profile examples and personal stories." 

The Critical Thinker: The Path To Better Problem Solving, Accurate Decision Making, and Self-Disciplined Thinking

By: Steven Schuster

About: If irrational thoughts and snap judgments are clouding your decisions and relationships at work, add this book to your reading list. From the Amazon description: "Improving your critical thinking skills will help you save time, filter out irrelevant information efficiently, and prioritize your resources to get the best results. Critical thinking will enhance your communication skills, reasoning, and logic. You will also become more compassionate and understanding for the perspectives of others."

Show Up as Your Best Self: Mindful Leaders, Meditation, & More

By: Cathy Quartner Bailey

About: Leaders with strong emotional intelligence don't get rattled – even when things are chaotic. Some keep their cool by practicing mindfulness. If you want to give it a try, this book can help. From the Amazon description: "Executive coach Cathy Quartner Bailey presents a roadmap to becoming a more mindful leader. By applying the techniques she has shared with hundreds of Fortune 500 executives, you will learn how to cultivate a mindfulness practice to help you reach your leadership potential by being more confident, decisive, and grounded."

Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership

By: Michael Ventura

About: Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, and one of the more challenging EQ characteristics to strengthen. If you are struggling to see things through anyone's perspective but your own, this book can help. From the Amazon description: "For leaders of all levels, this groundbreaking guide lays the foundation to establish a diverse, inventive, and driven team that can meet the challenges of today’s ever-evolving marketplace. If you want to connect to the people you work with and for, you first have to understand them."

Read on for books 5-10


Carla Rudder is a writer and content manager on The Enterprisers Project.

7 New CIO Rules of Road

CIOs: We welcome you to join the conversation

Related Topics

Submitted By Stephanie Overby
August 16, 2019

How can you be a more mindful leader? Consider these 8 practices for bringing more mindfulness to your work day and team - to boost well-being and innovative thinking.

Submitted By Laurianne McLaughlin
August 16, 2019

Trying to learn more about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and what it could do for your organization? Check out practical information on the difference between RPA and AI, how to identify RPA opportunities, success metrics, and more.

Submitted By Carla Rudder
August 15, 2019

Many IT people identify as left-brained: But science has proven anyone can exercise their creative and artistic side. Here's why and how IT leaders should build their right brain skills.


Email Capture

Keep up with the latest thoughts, strategies, and insights from CIOs & IT leaders.