Emotional Competence Inventory

Strengths and weaknesses of Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI)

ECI uses a 360- degree feedback method to evaluate the emotional competencies of individuals (Wolff, 2006). Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to recognizing our feelings and the feelings of others in order to manage emotions. It is a learned capability that is based on our emotional intelligence, hence, contributes to better performance at personal or organizational level. This paper seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Emotional Competency Inventory as a multirater feedback instrument.


ECI was developed by Richard Botatzis and Daniel Coleman assisted by Hay Group. The strengths of Emotional Competency Inventory (ECI) are numerous, for instance this kind of assessment incorporates unlimited number of raters, including self assessment, assessment of peers, leaders and workers in an organization. It also includes a workforce audit and a popular option when it involves a group, a team, or an organizational composite (Wolff, 2006).

ECI uses various sources of knowledge based on emotional intelligence. Competencies were demonstrated by David McClelland showing that every competency has a tipping point of proficiency that has the ability to separate individuals who are best performers than others, and for each behavior, the tipping point gives a development goal that can be achieved. Secondly, Richard Boyatzis explained development and demonstrated how to improve competencies that can be achieved in a three-year follow-up assessment. Emotional intelligence was explained by Daniel Goleman, where he identified 18 emotional intelligences that rely upon the competencies. These account for 67 percent of assessments of high performance across 181 job related competency models (Wolff, 2006).

This tool has an overall average internal consistency co-efficient of 0.78 and self rating with an overall internal coefficient of 0.63 (Wolf, 2006). The tool has been used in many areas, particularly in the assessment of the relationship between individual’s emotional intelligence and the behavior of their leaders. The ECI consists of 72 questions that evaluate 18 emotional intelligence competencies. The tool is flexible to use since it has a participants rated frequency of use of various items on a 1-5 Likert scale ranging from (1) never, to (5) consistently. Its flexibility to respondents is the freedom to choose to be rated on a particular item since there is a space marked “don’t know’ so participants are not forced to provide an answer to an item they don’t feel free to respond to.

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This tool is important because of the effectiveness of its data that are either presented individually or organizationally. Data that are presented individually offers a 20 page personalized results that are easy to comprehend for the interpretation of the feedback. It also offers an overview of the emotional competence model, quality data that can be validated in the feedback, individual summary of emotional competence, and competency facts. Organizationally, all the personal data are combined to form a work force audit for a team, department or the organization in its entirety. The workforce audit encompasses a comprehensive summary of an organizations emotional competence and an overview of challenges in competence for the team and recommendations for dealing with the gaps identified as well as, competency details.

Many scales used for rating has acceptable reliabilities with exceptions of emotional self control, initiative, and conflict management. The assessments of its internal reliabilities are accurate, these includes, self assessment, self awareness, self confidence, achievement orientation, adaptability, emotional self control, initiative, optimism, transparency, empathy, organizational awareness, service  orientation, change catalyst, conflict management, developing others, influence, inspirational leadership, teamwork and collaboration, hence, most of its theorized scales have acceptable reliabilities.

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ECI is a tool that has the potential to provide précised and focused feedback on our strengths and areas that we need to improve, hence it is important as it indicates our emotional competencies where we need developments to enhance our individual’s emotional intelligence. This tool can also be used in the diagnosis of entire units and profiling its overall strengths and development opportunities (Goleman, 1998).

ECI provides critical awareness in the way we react with others in daily basis and shows how we perceive each other and how we manage ourselves and how relationships with others. It also provides feedbacks from other people who have the chance to observe our behaviors in daily basis in different circumstances that is quite useful and meaningful.

It is also an important tool for organizations because it can be used to give feedback on a particular department in an organization or the entire work unit, hence profiling its overall strengths and development needs. This tool is also important because it is capable of pooling the evaluation of personnel of an entire organization hence providing a comprehensive profile of an organization’s emotional intelligence. This work force audit can reveal the challenges or emotional gaps that can be a hindrance to organizations performance effectiveness. In an organization, employees can obtain personalized reports hat can provide current leaders or those who aspire to be leader’s vital insights in weak areas that need to be improved.

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According to Eckmann (2004) the term emotional intelligence is described in four domains, that is, handling one’s own and others’ emotions. An integrated concept of emotional intelligence offers a more convenient framework for a description of human dispositions, a theoretical structure for the organization of personality linked to a theory of action and job performance (Coleman, 1995).  Thus, emotional competence is observed when an individual shows competencies that comprises self awareness, self management, social awareness, and social skills at an appropriate times and ways in sufficient frequency to be effective in the situation.

Coleman (1998) presented a model of emotional intelligence with competencies arranged in five clusters. First, the self awareness cluster comprises of emotional awareness, accurate self assessment, and self confidence, the self regulation cluster encompasses self control, trust, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation, the motivation cluster includes, achievement drive, commitment, initiative, and optimism, the empathy cluster includes understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity, and political awareness, the social skills cluster comprises influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, change catalyst, bond building, collaboration and cooperation, as well as, team capabilities (Goleman, 1998).

In clustering competencies, the organization of several competencies into larger categories for analysis offers two choices , that is, either to organize the characteristics theoretically or empirically, or organize the characteristics in a context of other competencies which may have an effect to each other so closely, or independently, that is , treating individuals as if they have independent traits, or developmentally.


Since the ECI is a proprietary instrument, information on the scales can only be obtained from the Hay Group. This self rating tool can be subjected to personal bias, lack of objectivity and self awareness. ECI has a number of psychometric properties that are not very desirable. Despite its reliability, its competency scales shows intercorrelations that are too high hence, leading to a loss in differentiation that had negative implications on the concept of emotional intelligence because of having various components instead of one construct or score. The other weakness is the desire to reduce the number of items. For instance if the feedback from clients was that the assessment of more than 100 items, then it is considered to be  too long. ECI has a problem of validity which is threatened when there is need to increase as the scales are highly correlated, in addition, there is need to maintain high scale validity in making changes.

Clusters in ECI are behavioral groups of desired competencies, they may be linked conceptually and described theoretically as a convenient way to describe competencies that are linked with others. Hence within a particular cluster, various types of competencies may have some form of relationships. First, they competencies may form part or whole or complement one another in functional behavior, for instance, adaptability and conscientiousness. Thus, an individual can demonstrate flexibility when adapting to situations hence, demonstrate reliability and consistency; therefore, conscientiousness may not interfere with demonstration of adaptability, but if the same individual uses both competencies, then his or her effectiveness may increase in many situations. However, changes in a given situation and a reliable response may still be required, adaptability and conscientiousness would allow for continued appropriate behavior even in new situation. In addition, there may be occurrence of alternate manifestation when using the Emotional Competence Inventory especially when specific competencies used varies due to setting or stimulus. The alterations depend on the extent of micro and macro definitions of the term competency and may happen in the competency models.

Data obtained from ECI may not be valid. It is vital to recognize that data collected may not be used again. In cases where the information from a rater has many (don’t know), then the data from the rater is discarded. The rationale behind it is that the respondents may not be having valid information to accurately evaluate him or her. There is also the need to incorporate a minimum of two raters in each rating for confidentiality purposes. Hence, with only one rater, the final scores are not included in the final scores. Therefore for research purposes, one rater may not pose a threat to research work or confidentiality, however, biasness occurs because the researcher has the role of making a choice if the high numbers of (don’t know) exceeds 25 % hence the results from the rater not knowing the ratee or a situation in which the rater has observed the ratee in situations where competencies may not normally be demonstrated. Thus, in order to obtain an accurate evaluation of an individual’s emotional intelligence, there is need for multiple raters, whereby each rater is designed a specific role meaning any individuals rating may be distorted (Sala, 2003).


Many studies conducted have shown that the Emotional Competence Inventory have indicated strong evidence for assessing development and training of emotional intelligence. This tool is supported by appropriate reliability and validity evidence.

The analyses of ECI reliability with large samples have indicated that it provides a high level internal consistency. The problem identified includes the evidence of test-retest reliability which is limited. In addition, ECI has demonstrated a high degree of construct validity because its scores are associated with various measures with similar constructs. In addition, ECI  is predictive based on its performance in a wide variety of its applications including organizational contexts and responsibilities. Therefore, several studies have indicated that ECI can be developed because they are good programs to increase emotional intelligence. ECI has been widely used in academic institutions such as universities to provide an assessment of student’s emotional competencies, it has also been used in organizations to assess emotional intelligence and work performance. Furthermore, this tool has been used in demographic studies in the evaluation of men and women in work places.

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In this field of personality construction and determinants and consequences of our personal and organizational behavior, there is need for more research. We need to understand the characteristics that have the likelihood of predicting better performance because there is need to be more effective and productive as individuals and in the work place. There is need to understand the characteristics that have more predictability to a more fulfilling life due to injustices, suffering and that most of our life is out of balance. There is need for more studies in order to understand how our emotions and capability do affect our lives and work.

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