How Psychodrama Helps Build Key Business Skill of Emotional Intelligence

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill” (April 2015), there are five components of emotional intelligence that allow individuals and business leaders to recognize, connect with, and learn from their own and other people’s mental states:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
  4. Empathy for others
  5. Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

Each of these five skills can be enhanced through psychodrama. For example, self-awareness is increased when a psychodrama group participant does his or her own work. As the participant explores past, present and future events he or she will gain a deeper understanding of who they are, where they came from and where they are going.  The same is true when a group member experiences the work of others. Not only does this increase empathy for others, it also helps group members better understand themselves.

Psychodrama also offers the opportunity to explore role formation. According to J.L. Moreno, the psychiatrist who developed psychodrama, the role is defined as the functioning form the individual takes the moment he reacts to a situation with others or objects. Role theory is a developmental theory for Moreno, which outlines and describes the roles we play, and their impact on the development of the self and the personality. Our selves develop only in terms of the roles we play – real or imagined. As we expand our role repertoire, we ground ourselves in the development of who we are in our roles, and these emerging roles become anchored in our mind, body, and spirit as we continue to play roles (in the role taking-role playing-and role creating triad). In mastering levels of role development, the self-emerges. This is what is meant by Moreno when he said that the roles we play do not emerge from the self but rather our “selves” may emerge from the roles we play. Roles are the tangible form the self-takes, according to Moreno. Our motivation or passion is an outgrowth of the roles we play.  Thus, in psychodrama, participants can engage in role-exploration, determine if “role fatigue” exists, or if we have the passion to explore new roles.

A fundamental aspect and theory of psychodrama is Moreno’s science of sociometry.  The sociometrist is an expert regarding group functioning and group processes.  If proficiency in managing relationships and building networks is a key leadership function, there is no better way to improve this than training in sociometry/psychodrama.

According to Goleman, as quoted in the HBR article cited above:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.

Readers looking to improve their “sine qua non” leadership skills by improving their emotional intelligence are encouraged to consider attending one of the many psychodrama workshops offered in Michigan and around the country.  Check the American Board of Examiners web site for more information.