Transformative Emotional Intelligence: Achieving Leadership and Performance Excellence

Updated: Jul 10

By Gary Low & Richard Hammett, with Darwin Nelson (2019). Our gratitude to Dr. Renee Tonioni for contributing the first chapter.



Book review by Dr. Dee Dee Aspell


Title: Transformative Emotional Intelligence: Achieving Leadership and Performance Excellence

ISBN: 978-0-578-45130-5

Transformative Emotional Intelligence (TEI) is the culmination of more than forty years of research and practice by the authors and their colleagues. Renee Tonioni’s expertise is in leadership and organizational development. Tonioni illustrates the value of emotional intelligence to leadership in organizations and learning teams. As scholars and practitioners, the authors have distinguished their model of emotional intelligence with an emphasis on the transformative potential to which all individuals and teams may aspire as they develop positive personal and emotional skills.

The authors expound on their theory of emotional intelligence as being transformative and education-based. They posit that emotional intelligence is a learned phenomenon and that the skill of emotional-intelligence-behavior can be developed. As such, this indicates that emotional intelligence is a measurable competency. They define TEI clearly and concisely as: “The learned ability to think constructively and act wisely.” Four balancing competencies comprise the construct of TEI. (Italics indicate the authors’ terminology.). The four competencies are the learned ability to

1. know and value oneself based on the awareness of one’s strengths and areas of development [routine self-exploration is an important underlying principle],

2. establish and maintain a variety of effective and healthy relationships [interpersonal dimension],

3. interrelate and communicate positively and productively with others, and [personal leadership and interpersonal dimensions]

4. respond healthily to the vicissitudes of daily living [self-management and intrapersonal dimensions].

The broad application of TEI across academic disciplines, work, and life offers helpful insight.

The authors insightfully integrate four critical dimensions that make their construct of a behavior-skills-based model unique. The four dimensions with their inherent skills and competencies are (a) Relational Awareness, (b) Relational Control, (c) Self-Awareness, and (d) Self-Control. A balance of (a) Interpersonal and Healthy Relationships, (b) Personal Leadership and Positive Influence, (c) Intrapersonal Development and Growth, and (d) Self-Management and Intelligent Self-Direction elucidate the four dimensions, respectively.

A two-mind learning process grounded in a learning-educational model is one of the cornerstones of their paradigm. The rational-cognitive mind and the experiential-emotional mind are essential. The authors incorporate a positive philosophy comprising of leading figures in the field of psychology as another foundational strongpoint. A validated assessment that measures personal and life skills and competencies is helpful for use on the journey of actualizing TEI. Twelve hallmarks and guiding principles map the learning.

This work poses and reveals the answer to two specific questions. First: “What factor(s) differentiate individuals who are both successful and healthy versus those not so successful and healthy?” Second: “How could we help individuals change and develop in ways that are more successful and healthy as a process of learning, education, counseling, and consultation?”

The authors’ research and findings are valid and reliable according to scientific methodology and derive from credible, original research. It is the answer to the second question that offers an effective system for addressing inevitable workplace and societal challenges. Through their transformative Emotional Learning System (ELS), personal and professional relationships, communication, and decision-making expertise can be enhanced. Specific strategies and tools serve as a map to foster TEI in individuals, teams, and organizations. The five steps of the ELS guide the individual in developing five aspects of one’s self. They are self-assessment, self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-development, and self-Improvement.

The fourth chapter of the book presents action learning strategies, constructs, and tools for developing TEI. The authors highlight four dynamic action learning pathways. Each pathway consists of critical elements designed to enhance TEI skills that empower individuals, teams, and communities to think constructively and act wisely, thereby, following the authors’ definition of emotional intelligence. The foundational learning pathway comprises the essential learning dimensions consisting of four sets of competencies. They identify these four sets of competencies as the building blocksof TEI. The significance of building blocks for the journey of personal transformation is signaled by the inclusion of a chapter for each of the four competency sets (chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8).

The application of knowledge of the foundational building blocks may be accomplished by using an Action Planning Guide in chapter nine. This guide provides Intelligent Self Direction to more tangibly navigate the journey of transformation. Chapter ten clarifies how this process moves you along your journey naturally toward Personal Excellence and continuous Self Renewal and requires a fundamental trait of Resiliency. The authors’ Emotional Learning System for developing Transformative Emotional Intelligence is a definitive way to facilitate and guide individuals and organizations in enhancing their relationships and performance.

The authors’ research, findings, and practice are consistent with those of many thought leaders and researchers in psychology. This learning system aids in the development of individuals and teams in the following areas: emotional intelligence, self-awareness, positive psychology, self-actualizing psychology, personal orientation behavior, constructive thinking, leadership, interpersonal relationships, intrapersonal development, self-management, and decision making. Transformative Emotional Intelligence offers a realistic framework with systematic steps for businesses who are earnestly interested in fostering the holistic health and well-being of their employees and helping them adapt to imminent changes in work and family. As we all continue to create improved normals proactively, this work is highly recommended to illuminate the journey forward.


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