Managing Emotional Intelligence in U.S. Cities: A Study of Social Skills among Public Managers


Evan M. Berman is the Huey McElveen Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at Louisiana State University. His work has appeared in the leading journals of the discipline. He is editor in chief of the ASPA Book Series on Public Administration and Public Policy published by Taylor & Francis and managing editor of Public Performance and Management Review.

Jonathan P. West is a professor of political science and director of the graduate program in public administration at the University of Miami. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters and eight books. He is the managing editor of Public Integrity, an ASPA journal.


This study assesses perceptions of managerial emotional intelligence in local government, as well as the practices and polices affecting it. Though few cities offer training programs for managers that are called “emotional intelligence,” many cities engage in activities that target or address EI skills. This study finds improvement opportunities for managers to become better attuned to the feelings of others and themselves, to better know their own strengths and weaknesses, to better deal with their negative emotions and increase their adaptability, and to improve their communication and relationship skills. Feedback and mentoring processes are directly associated with increased perceptions of EI, while other practices such as training, selection and policy development are only indirectly associated with perceptions of EI. This study contributes to the knowledge base by increasing awareness about managerial EI skills, and providing specific examples of practices to further managerial EI.