February 7

Getting a Grip on How Emotional Intelligence Equals Effective Leadership



I’m about to say something really earth-shattering here: We’re all human beings, and that includes everyone who works at your company. (Mic drop, right?)

But really, no matter the business model, emotional intelligence—that deeply human way of embodying empathy and constructive communication—is a key component of effective leadership. The ability to be in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as possessing keen situational awareness, makes for leaders who are a pleasure to work for and with.The ability to understand and respond appropriately to emotions,  with an awareness of how your words affect others, is key. And that requires real honesty with oneself.

There are many barriers to doing this effectively. Individual stress, frustration, and anxiety are all roadblocks on the path to emotional intelligence and organizational (not to mention personal!) success. If you want to be a compelling leader in more than just your job title, you must become a student of emotional intelligence and understand its key aspects.  


Self-regulation, also known as self-discipline, is your ability to control or redirect your disruptive emotions and adapt to changing circumstances to keep your team moving in the right direction. This goes beyond saying no to a packet of M&Ms; it requires acknowledging your emotions and examining how you respond to what’s going on within and around you. Calm is contagious. As a leader, you can’t afford to panic when things get stressful. The number one threat to communication is conflict—both internal and external. A leader who knows how to calm themselves and stay positive is able to communicate clearly and create a path forward, even when the going gets tough. 

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy is your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can understand how they feel. It takes some intention and imagination, but you’re already practicing it all the time. Every time you relate to a tv show character or wince when someone sips too-hot coffee, you’re practicing empathy. This skill can help you assess any situation comprehensively and make the best decisions for everyone on your team. . With empathy comes compassion. These emotions are foundational to our connection to others, and they spur a desire to help.The more you can relate to those around you, the better you’ll come to understand what motivates them, and the more cohesive and effective your team will be. 

Relationship Management

We live in an era of distraction, smartphones, and chatter. It helps us stay connected on the surface, but distraction keeps us from making deep connections with others. Yes, most of us have family obligations, hobbies, and an ever-growing to-do list, but being able to build and maintain healthy relationships is an essential part not just of a balanced, healthy life—but of a higher level of emotional intelligence. You have to have the ability to communicate effectively and maintain relationships if you want to move people in the right direction within your organization. The first step might be putting away the email and time-blocking some real conversations.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is of the utmost importance when it comes to leading a team. Studies have shown that communication is 7% the words you say and 93% tone and body language.  That’s worth repeating: The way you speak to others and how you carry yourself are just as important (if not more important) as what you’re saying. Misunderstandings are what screw up the dynamics of the office and create threats to success. Miscommunication at work leads to frustration, confusion, and bitterness among employees. When you are a skilled communicator—taking into account how you speak, act, make time for others, and express how much you care—what you eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger relationships within your company. 

Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool and skill that’s critical for leaders who want to meet, or even exceed, their goals. It allows them to improve their relationships, and create a healthy and productive place to work.

About the author 

Adam Anderson

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