How Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Can Build Emotional Intelligence Skills: There's An App for That! | Beth's Blog

How Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Can Build Emotional Intelligence Skills: There’s An App for That!


For the past few months, I’ve been designing curriculum and materials and facilitating a Nonprofit Emerging Leaders online peer learning project with Third Plateau Impact Strategies.  It’s a pilot project supported by the Packard Foundation that tests different approaches to emerging leaders professional development.   We created The Emerging Leaders Playbook which served as the “text book” for the training.

Emotional Intelligence and Emerging Leaders Training

Inside Out

The peer learning curriculum emphasizes practical emotional intelligence 2.0 skills.

Daniel Goleman who coined the term “emotional intelligence” brought it to a wide audience with his  book of that name, and it was Goleman who first applied the concept to business with a series of HBR articles

Goleman found that while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership—such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision—are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

These qualities may sound “soft”, but Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable results. With regular intelligence,  you are generally as “smart” now as you ever are going to be.  People learn new facts but their intelligence, or their ability to learn, remains largely the same.  Emotional Intelligence is a flexible skill that can be readily acquired and practiced.  People can actually increase their emotional intelligence by working on the skills that we are covering in the emerging leaders training.

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself” – Leonardo da Vinci

Self-Management Skills

One of the skills we are addressing is self-management.    If you saw the movie Inside Out, it is a wonderful illustration of the definition of self-management.   It illustrates how our emotions can drive our actions.  Self-management is having the ability to choose your actual response.

It isn’t about avoiding emotions all together.  Goleman defines the skill as:

  • Self-Control: keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check
  • Trustworthiness:  Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
  • Conscientiousness:  Taking responsibility for performance
  • Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change
  • Innovation:  Being comfortable with new ideas, novel approaches and information

Apps for Improving Self-Management Skills

The first step is awareness and that happens through tracking and observing yourself in work situations.    Aside from practicing many of the practical tips we offer, part of the homework encourages emerging nonprofit leaders in the project to do some reflection time and maintain a journal.   Leadership is all about forming good habits, and writing it down helps you change and commit to the habits

While many participants, all Millennials, have opted to go old school and use a notebook and pen.  Since many are very comfortable with technology, we have also explored different apps and technology to support their leadership work.

One category of apps that is useful to building Emotional Intelligence Skills are Mood Trackers, journals that let you chart your emotions and thoughts and test different self-management techniques.

I tested a number of those apps and found the best one for me was “Moodnotes,” you can track your emotions in different work situations and it prompts you to reflect on the situation and how to manage it.    Having this self-awareness lays the groundwork for effective leadership.

What apps have you used to help you develop your leadership skills?


5 Responses

  1. Terri says:

    Hi Beth,

    Thank you for sharing these. It can often feel like companies (organizations/entities) focus on assessing what tangible skills you possess. That causes us to focus on those skills as well. I think emotional intelligence and what you call “soft skills” are even more important. With drive and determination, we’re always able to learn something new, something more; but without emotional intelligence we struggle to find personal satisfaction in our chosen path.

    Thanks for the resources!


  2. Ari says:


    These are great resources! EQ is an incredibly important skill in a leader, particularly those working in the nonprofit world (doubly so for those of us in education leadership). I’ve used mood tracking to help students with mood regulation, so I love the idea of turning it inward. Any suggestions for Android-based apps for this?



  3. Thanks, I just bought this app and tried it. I love it. I didn’t know there were things like this.

  4. […] How Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Can Build Emotional Intelligence Skills: There’s An App for That! […]

  5. Suzanne Holt says:

    I never knew that apps were out there to help track emotions. I can definitely see how this would be beneficial with HR training. I can also see where this could even be beneficial to me as a mom because it could help me to pinpoint the times where I tend to be less patient and less kind.