This EI factor is defined as our ability to be self-reliant and free of emotional dependency on others. This is the ability to be self-directed in our thinking and actions. Independent people are self-reliant in planning and making important decisions. They may, however, seek and consider other people’s opinions before making decisions; but, consulting with others is not a sign of dependency in this respect. Independence is, moreover, the ability to function autonomously versus needing protection and support from others. Independent people avoid clinging to others in order to satisfy their emotional needs. The ability to be independent rests on our degree of inner strength, self-confidence as well as a desire to meet expectations and obligations without becoming a slave to them.
Based on research findings collected by me and others, independence, or “self-reliance” as it is often referred to, is associated with the feeling that we are in control and can influence situations. As such, it is an important facilitating factor in coping with stress and working under pressure. Moreover, independence has been found to be highly correlated with stress tolerance, problem-solving and assertiveness. For this reason, some suggest that his factor could be more of a facilitator of emotionally intelligent behavior than an integral factorial component of the construct itself.
This factor is of prime importance for being a successful manager and leader as well as being effective in occupations that require individuals to work alone and make decisions on their own. Dependent employees make it difficult for teams to function effectively and efficiently, because they slow up the teamwork process in that they depend on others to show them what needs to be done and often need assistance in completing their tasks. On the other hand, excessively independent individuals often do not make good team members either finding it difficult to cooperate with others. As such, there are most likely optimal levels of independence as is the case with many other human attributes.