Since healthcare faces challenges of access, quality, and cost, effective leadership for healthcare is needed. This need is especially acute among physicians, whose demanding training focuses on scientific and clinical skills, eclipsing attention to leadership development. Among the competencies needed by leaders, emotional intelligence (EI) - defined as the ability to understand and manage oneself and to understand others and manage relationships - has been shown to differentiate between great and average leaders. In this context, teaching EI as part of the medical training curriculum is recommended. Furthermore, because physicians' developmental needs evolve over the course of prolonged training, specific components of EI (e.g., teambuilding, empathy, and negotiation) should be taught at various phases of medical training. Consistent with the concept of a spiral curriculum, such EI competencies should be revisited iteratively throughout training, with differing emphasis and increasing sophistication to meet evolving needs. For example, teamwork training is needed early in undergraduate medical curricula to prompt collaborative learning. Teamwork training is also needed during residency, when physicians participate with differing roles on patient care teams. Training in EI should also extend beyond graduate medical training to confer the skills needed by clinicians and by faculty in academic medical centers.