Emotional Intelligence in Management Consulting

Written by . Posted in Consulting Industry, Fit Interview Prep


Emotional intelligence is a must for you to carry out the responsibilities of a management consultant. Your interaction with people every now and then requires your capability to handle your emotions in the most professional way. Read this post and know how important it is in the management consulting industry. 

Popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1995, emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the person’s extent of emotional awareness and control. The author said that it’s a primary predictor of success in the workplace. An indicator of this is the fact that there are many highly intelligent management consulting applicants who don’t get the job because they simply don’t have the ability to adapt to the nature of the consulting field. Some don’t last because they find it difficult to interact with people, they don’t understand the value of hard work and they can’t handle the pressure and stress. They have failed to develop the right attitude for the right situation.

As a consultant, you will be engaged in projects where you need to show a high level of emotional and social intelligence. For example, you might be sent to a client to help them restructure the organization. You will need to talk to different people, and quickly get along well with them so that they can help you with your project. You need to be emphatic and at the same time confident and decisive.

To go into this further, below are Goleman’s EI model’s four constructs, all of which are important in management consulting firms.


If you want to pursue a career in management consulting, you need to manifest this skill even before the start of the recruitment process. If you know yourself, you can easily assess if the job is meant for you. You can also readily answer the interviewer’s questions when asked about your strengths, weaknesses, abilities and limitations. Further, self-awareness is your key to self-development, a very important factor for any kind of job.


Signing an employment contract with a top tier management consulting firm like McKinesy and Bain will definitely bring heaps of changes to your daily activities. The pressure from analyzing organizational issues and generating recommendations for improvement will push you to your boundaries. This requires you to manage your stress under pressure.

Moreover, you will also be swamped with work; so you must exercise your drive to accomplish and achieve things. You might have to work on extended hours for consecutive days but if you understand the value of discipline and delaying self-gratification, you’ll appreciate the work results better.

Social Awareness

Since you won’t be working alone as a management consulting staff, you need to get a feel of the people around you. You can do so with empathy. Listen to your clients when they communicate to you. What are their non-verbal cues telling you? How about their facial expression and tone of voice?

This construct is also helpful when you analyze the unexpressed needs of your clients. For instance, the top management may instruct you to improve employee productivity through system review. But as you reach out to employees, you might realize that the pay, not the system, is the cause of inefficiency.

Relationship Management

As you climb the ladder of management consulting career, you must develop higher level of social skills. You will be tasked to coach, inspire and lead a team of juniors and interns. To be able to excellently perform this responsibility, you must know how to bring out the best in them. If there is conflict in the team, you have to spot and resolve it. You must handle them professionally and encourage feedback and open discussion. Doing these things will maintain smooth relations among the group members.

This kind of intelligence is not innate but acquired. Like learning a sports or language, it will take time for you to embed it within your system. So while you’re still preparing for a management consulting position, start preparing for the job cognitively and emotionally.

So you’re already confident of your emotional intelligence?

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