Does your ability to lead others all come down to your EQ? Cognitive intelligence is, of course, important – especially for leadership. But if you’re looking to really improve how you lead others, emotional intelligence and leadership go hand-in-hand.

More information and research are revealing how this emotional intelligence, or EQ, is much more critical than we realize. This article will look at EQ, how it connects to leadership, and the ways that you can improve it.

What Is Emotional Intelligence and What Does It Have to Do with Leadership?

This is all about how you manage your emotions in front of others. This is a valuable skill with friends and family but in a work setting, it is crucial.

Emotional Intelligence or EQ refers to a person’s ability to perceive, identify, understand, and successfully manage emotions in themselves and others.

It starts with being able to manage your own emotions because if you are unsuccessful with that; it diminishes your ability to lead.

A real leader can calm themselves and keep others calm around them. They give off a controlled vibe that rubs off on the people that look up to them.

Picture any job situation where those above you have panicked and seemed out of control. I imagine that had a spillover effect and caused distress in the rest of the staff.

What Are the Different Emotions to Know of?

There are hundreds of different emotions with varying intensities of each. What’s important for leadership is to understand the different ranges of emotions people have and how these emotions present themselves.

All emotions are not negative but still need to be acknowledged to be managed. Some main ones include:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Envy
  • Love
  • Enjoyment
  • Pride
  • Relief

There is a huge difference between anger and sadness, and emotional intelligence allows you to differentiate them leading to better leadership. There are far more emotions than there are ways to describe them, so it’s important to see the main categories as encompassing many ones.

Harnessing & Directing Emotions

The best leaders are the ones able to harness and direct the power of these different emotions. This will improve their follower’s morale, and satisfaction while helping nurture them.

When this is in place, you will get better results and more productivity. When a leader has emotional intelligence, it enhances overall organizational effectiveness.

An emotionally intelligent leader will help to create the ideal environment. The people that work for them feel listened to and accommodated. This creates a better sense of ease and allows them to perform better at their jobs.

This carries over from small teams to bigger departments, to the overall organization. The emotional state of the leader helps to create this impact on others.

People can easily pick up emotions from those around them. If you surround yourself with negative and anxious people, these traits will rub off on you. A leader who is smiling, calm, and relaxed (even if they aren’t on the inside) instills this in others.

Keeping Emotions In Check

Stress is inevitable, but it’s how you handle it that’s the most important. Emotional intelligence doesn’t ignore obstacles or hardships, but the people who have it just handle them in a controlled manner.

Things will rarely go perfectly and accepting that can help you deal with it. For leadership, this ability to remain calm on the surface is a hallmark of emotional intelligence.

Those with a high EQ will also be able to manage negative emotions in members of their team. Doing this prevents infection of the rest of the team – or the entire organization.

Showing others positive emotions in their everyday work is a sign of real leadership. Leaders are in almost complete control of everything that can influence people’s moods in the workplace.

Seeing how important emotional intelligence is, how do you improve it for better leadership?

1. Self-Awareness

This is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and how they impact your life and work. When you can accurately assess your strengths and limitations, this helps improve your EQ. Being more in touch with your emotions helps you better guide your own life, and others too.

You may need to write out a list of your strengths and weaknesses so you can see it in black and white. Be honest with yourself and you’re on your way to building your emotional intelligence

2. Take Criticism Well

This is tough. This isn’t about people insulting you but accepting constructive criticism better. As long as it’s coming from a good place, you need to stop seeing it as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Begin seeing constructive criticism as a way to improve yourself and grow. Once you can do this, you’ll thrive off it and improve your overall EQ.

3. Ask Others For Perspective

This is another thing that may take you out of your comfort zone – but real leaders need it. It’s hard to know exactly how others view us and sometimes you just need to ask. Turning to an elder or mentor can be a good way to accomplish this.

Ask them how they find it interacting with you and you’ll get a better understanding of how you come across. Find out how you dealt with them during emotional times to get an idea if you’re on the right track, or need improvement.

Getting the perspective of others will help you see yourself the way others do.

Final Thoughts

Emotional intelligence doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years to mold and grow – but so does leadership. The best leaders are the ones that have learned their strengths and limitations and bring the best out of others.

Emotional intelligence and leadership go hand-in-hand. So if you’re looking at becoming a better leader, it’s time to give your EQ a boost.


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