How important is emotional intelligence for leaders?

Thanks to my experience in HR and my assistance to several forums on talent management, I have decided to write my conclusions on the following lines.

In the meetings in question, I perceived significant frustration about the real possibilities of promoting robust development policies in HR professionals belonging to a wide range of companies and business sectors. However, there was something more significant, the emotional intelligence that every HR professional need to have to create and implement the policies.

At this point, I had the following question: Who is more likely to succeed?

A manager who likes to shout at and undermine his team when he is under stress or a manager who prefers to stay calm under pressure.

The way I see it, emotional intelligence plays a key role in why a leader succeeds or fails. According to the Gallup’s report (the State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders), a manager’s behavior explains 70% of employees’ daily work engagement and productivity.

Leaders with emotional intelligence become more self-aware. This allows them to gain a clear understanding of themselves as well as their team members’ strengths and weaknesses. This kind of leader can instantly identify emotions rising in a particular situation and act accordingly. A person with high emotional intelligence will hardly have an emotional breakdown in public. This kind of leader also makes sure that his emotions don’t affect any of his decisions. This guarantees an impartial and fair decision of the leader, regardless of his mood.

‘‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, lean more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’’

John Quincy Adams

When hiring people, the interviews are adapted such the employer can measure emotional intelligence and predict how good the candidate will be for the job role. It is proved that people with higher emotional intelligence are getting along easily with coworkers and are able to deal with job stress. Even a sense of humor is one of the selection factors, as it is a part of emotional intelligence.

Higher emotional intelligence means you are aware of your feelings and moods and can handle your emotions to face challenges and conflicts with an optimistic approach. The five building blocks of emotional intelligence are:

  • Self-awareness: Knowing who you are and having an understanding of your strengths, weakness, and emotions.
  • Intrinsic motivation: Being motivated to exceed expectations and to be dedicated to the work.
  • Self-regulation: Ability to control and manage impulses, which can pay off for your weaknesses.
  • Empathy: Understanding others’ feelings and considering their perspective of viewing things.
  • Social skill: Ability to inspire and motivate others in the desired direction, build networks and managing relationships.

Emotional intelligence is a key factor that will enable you to separate high-performing people from average, as it allows them to focus your energy in one direction for incredible results. Emotional quotient is the strongest predictor of performance compared to other skills in the workplace.

‘‘If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, If you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.’’

Dr. Daniel Goleman

Emotional intelligence can be especially beneficial during a time of crisis like the current as it can help you avoid panic and think rationally. It can also help you to connect with your people on an emotional level.

It will be a good exercise to take the time to check in with yourself in terms of emotional intelligence that can spell the difference between distancing yourself from your relationships or keeping them close. Do a mental and emotional check-in every morning, and midday if something has been particularly stressful. The key is to not stuff it down – you can feel the emotions, but make sure you’re expressing them in a healthy manner. 

For example, considering the Covid-19 pandemic, your employees are thinking about how the situation affects them and their families. But as an employer or team leader, you may have a bigger-picture view. You might know other employees who you feel have things worse. You may even get frustrated with an employee, thinking they are too self-centered or unwilling to see things from your perspective.


However, it’s important to remember that empathy begets empathy. When a person feels understood, they are more likely to reciprocate your efforts and try to understand.

The key to exercising empathy is to find a way to relate to the person’s feelings, rather to their situation.

If they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, don’t compare their situation to others’. Instead, think of how this situation–or another one–makes you feel similarly anxious or overwhelmed. Once you find a way to connect with the other person’s feelings, you’re ready to take the next step. Ask the other person what you can do to help. If you can attend their request, do so. If not, be honest: It doesn’t help anyone to make promises you can’t keep. 

Ultimately, emotional intelligence will not only strengthen your interpersonal relationships, but it will help you become more self-aware which can only benefit you in the long run.

In case you are interested in check your emotional intelligence here you have a free test:

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