I’m working at s Starbucks today. A few years ago, I got to know the manager of this store when he was a Barista at another store. The guy gushes emotional intelligence. He’s funny, one of the quickest wits I’ve run across, does the “lowly jobs” with a smile on his face, and engages customers in amazing ways. He simply ignites the place.

I can’t imagine he was taught how to do any of this. Oh sure, like all of us he learned how to manage and lead people. But, as I sit here, I’m really wondering about the theory that suggests you can significantly increase your emotional intelligence. Goleman and others have shown evidence that leaders with low emotional intelligence can get better at it with awareness and practice. I’ve taught the same thing myself. And, I’ve seen people make strides in their EQ. But this guy makes me wonder about it just a bit (at least at some primal level). How could you teach someone to “be” the way this guy “is” in the store. It’s just not going to happen.

So, we come back to nature or nurture. Are we setting people up to fail when we tell them they can make big strides in EQ?  Or, is it true that they can increase EI within the confines of their personality? Or, should we just celebrate that this guy is an amazing relational leader and leave it at that?