Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence to transform the way you live, love, and lead.

Dr. Rob Murray
April 13, 2023

Dr. Rob Murray

Researcher, Change Agent & Thought Leader in Emotional Intelligence and Transformational Leadership

The Heart-Engaged EQ System

“Do you think emotional intelligence (EQ) is important for leadership development and effectiveness?” It’s a question I frequently ask when working with a group of leaders. Without exception, almost every hand in the room shoots up. I ask, “Who is doing anything intentionally to develop their emotional intelligence beyond learning about it?” Usually, one or two hands go up.

The gap analysis between belief and action is complete, and the results are typically poor. Closer to home for some of us, it’s like having a gym membership but never going to work out!

The third and final question I ask is: “What exactly is emotional intelligence?” I grab my marker and wait for answers to write on the whiteboard. Usually, three, four, or maybe five answers emerge, but they are spotty, vague, and random.

Empathy, the awareness of others, and the awareness of self usually come up consistently, but after they are mentioned, the suggestions slow to a trickle.

The industry has been telling us for as long as we can remember that emotional intelligence is essential to healthy, effective leadership, yet, nobody is doing anything about it. And oh, by the way, nobody even knows what it means.

In his Harvard Business Review article, “The Making of a Leader,” Daniel Goleman, an industry veteran, makes this bold statement:

It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’; that is, they are entry-level requirements for executive positions. But my research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.


If you’re like me, you’ve attended conferences, read books, and met with other leaders to grow your emotional intelligence and health. And like me, you probably walked away from these events and resources frustrated and disappointed, not knowing how to deepen, integrate, or apply what you learned practically.

Tired of leadership messages and approaches limited to education or inspiration, I set out to draw from my extensive research on emotional intelligence and transformational leadership to create an experiential learning pathway that could take someone far deeper. I developed The Heart-Engaged EQ System, a practical roadmap to help individuals, teams, and organizations grow their emotional intelligence.

In my latest book, Fighting for HeartHow Emotional Intelligence Can Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead, I show leaders how to integrate their head (IQ) with their heart (EQ) to transform their lives, relationships, and leadership using the Heart-Engaged EQ System.

That’s why I wrote Fighting for Heart — to provide leaders with a step-by-step approach to harnessing the power of emotional intelligence to unlock qualitative outcomes like meaning, depth, purpose, and connection to name just a few.

“When leaders ignore their emotional system, they grow numb and miss out on new opportunities for growth and wholeness,” Chad Spencer, CEO at Dufresne Spencer Group, LLC (Ashley Furniture HomeStore), said. “That’s not the energy and spirit of transformative leadership.”

My partner, Jack Nicholson, and I worked with Chad and his team members to help them practically apply the steps in the Heart-Engaged EQ System to some of the leadership challenges they face as individuals and as an organization.

“I didn’t realize how essential feelings were to leadership, and I also didn’t know how much more there was to emotional intelligence than feelings,” Spencer added. “It’s not something that we talk about. Most businesses see feelings as a sign of weakness. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The EQ System has profoundly transformed our lives, corporate culture, and interactions with our customers.”


If you read my first book, which I wrote in collaboration with my partner Jack, The Human Operating System: Recovering the Heart and Soul of Your Leadership, you may recall the four-quadrants or ingredients that make a healthy leader, team or organization: Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength™.

In Fighting for HeartI zoom in to apply those dynamics directly to the heart: Strength of Heart, Mind of Heart, Soul of Heart, and Heart of Heart. I parse out four aspects of the emotional life: the essential meaning of their emotions (soul), the personal experience of their emotions (heart), the chief influencers of their emotions (mind), and the primary effects of their emotions (strength). The model becomes increasingly clear as clients engage in the work itself.

If you’re like most people, it’s right about now that you’re feeling some resistance rising up. If so, you’re not alone.


My research found that six common resistances keep leaders from investing in their emotional growth. See if you recognize any of these:

  1. Self-protection against social shame, pressure, or judgments for being “emotional.”
  2. Holding a belief that leaders should not be distracted by emotions.
  3. Avoiding emotions feels easier, safer, and more manageable.
  4. Lack of emotional modeling growing up.
  5. Ignorance of any other way than performing and producing.
  6. Not justifying the time and money to prioritize emotional development.

“There are a lot of chess pieces in leadership, but this kind of work is a game changer,” said Brad Stinson, CEO of The Collective Global. “We overcame our resistances because we knew this was a real game-changer. The Heart-Engaged EQ System gave us the practical tools to serve each other and our clients at a deeper level.”

Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate, finds resistance is something he and his team need to continually overcome. He sets the tone by showing up how he wants his team to respond.

“By showing up as an authentic and vulnerable leader with the rest of our leadership team, I hope to inspire that same level of transparency,” Julianelle said. “I think the best way to overcome resistance is simply to admit it. Doing this work is hard, but the outcomes make it worth it.”


In a world running a hundred miles a minute, most leaders find themselves overwhelmed and detached from the lives they are living and leading. In Step 1 of the EQ System, leaders learn a quick, easy way to get grounded or catch up with themselves .

First, listen to your body. Are you in it? Are you aware of pain or tension? Peace and relaxation? What is it wanting to tell you right now? If the different parts of your body could speak, what would they say?

Second, listen to your thoughts. Is your mind calm, clear, and connected, or is it scattered, chaotic, and anxious? Are you bouncing around or focused? Are your thoughts rigid and judgmental, or are they curious and creative?

Third, refresh your meaning. I encourage leaders to refresh their sense of purpose and meaning. Bring your “why” back to the forefront of your attention in this step so you can lead from a sharper focus on your vision and mission.

Finally, identify your feelings. Take a quick pass through the heart to notice any loud, demanding, or flooded feelings taking up a lot of space in the room. You don’t need to fix or manage them; just recognize them for now.



Next up is identifying your Core Feelings. I invite leaders to choose from twelve “Core Emotions” I’ve identified: Afraid, Confident, Lost, Angry, Excited, Guilty, Sad, Calm, Lonely, Ashamed, Cared-For, and Hurt. Are there some feelings missing from my list? Yes, of course. But think of this set as a shared language of emotion, like building blocks or primary colors. Once we start to use the same words and subscribe to the same rules of engagement, our emotional intelligence takes on new energy and potential.

As I explain in my book, Fighting for Heart, the feelings above the line–Afraid, Confident, Lost, Angry, Excited, Guilty–are more socially constructed and supported. The feelings below the line–Sad, Calm, Lonely, Ashamed, Cared For, Hurt–are more tender, vulnerable feelings that we often internalize and privatize.


Most businesses expect staff to check their feelings at the door and tend to the “more important” work of producing results. Most business leaders fail to recognize that exploring the feelings below the line raises the bottom line.


The third component of the EQ System can sometimes feel like a mouthful but imagery often helps many people identify and express their internal worlds a little easier. Step three is getting to know your four primary characters, archetypes, or “managing partners.” They are neither intrinsically good nor bad; each carries golden and shadowed expressions that will impact you and those you love positively and/or negatively. Let me introduce you to The General, The Trailblazer, The Caretaker, and The Mythic.

You should see something of yourself in all four. Healthy leaders learn to check in with themselves in microseconds, identifying which characters are over- functioning and under-functioning. They notice the patterns and recognize which voice is needed to be productive and purposeful in response. To respond rather than react. Leaders can then move with emotional clarity, scaling their leadership to communicate and act most constructively.


Start noticing. Get curious. Tune your inner observer as you respond to different situations; over time, you’ll see the patterns emerge. It’s easier to leverage the potential of your emotional gifts once you discern each character’s unique voice at the table and learn which is most appropriate in the moment.


So, I’ve offered you a few steps, but in the leadership space, we all know the question always being asked is: “What’s the ROI or payoff?” Step four identifies the outcomes most leaders want or need. What do we hope to accomplish with all this work around emotions? The following chart outlines the specific metrics of growth I measure in my work with the Heart-Engaged EQ System. You could think of this as my definition of emotional intelligence.

These are the specific ways you can expect to improve your life, relationships, and leadership on the way to becoming a more emotionally savvy human being. I call them the “ABCs” of becoming Heart-Engaged (Attributes, Baselines, and Competencies). Of course you cannot reach for all of these outcomes at the same time but you can become clearer on identifying specific areas that may need attention. In my book, Fighting for Heart, I go into greater detail and show how these outcomes align with each step of the EQ system.

There’s so much more I’d like to tell you about the model, the leaders who participate in my intensives, workshops, and groups, and the outcomes they’re experiencing in their lives and businesses. The best way to learn more about the EQ System is to buy a book or to join something we offers for leaders like you. Are you ready to be intentional?

To learn more about the Heart-Engaged EQ System and how to bring it to your organization or leadership team.

Email: rob@drrobmurray.com.
Website: www.drrobmurray.com
Speaking: https://drrobmurray.com/speaking
Consulting: www.transformedleader.com
New Book: www.fightingforheart.com

Dr. Rob Murray

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Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence to transform the way you live, love, and lead.
Dr. Rob Murray
Dr. Rob Murray
April 13, 2023
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Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence to transform the way you live, love, and lead.
The Heart-Engaged EQ System "Do you think emotional intelligence (EQ) is important for leadership development and effectiveness?";It's a question I frequently ask when working with a group of leaders. Without exception, almost every hand in the room shoots up. I ask, "Who is doing anything intentionally to develop their emotional intellig...
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