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The role of emotional intelligence in leadership: Why it matters

Cubo writersMar 27, 2023

Leadership has traditionally been associated with IQ or intelligence quotient - the ability to perform well on academic or cognitive tests. While IQ is undoubtedly important, there is another critical component of leadership that is often overlooked: emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize and manage emotions, both in oneself and in others.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better able to communicate, build relationships, and inspire trust and loyalty in their team members.

We'll also give you some useful advice you can put to use right away to start developing your emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence and why it’s important

Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

An angry womanIt includes the skill of being able to manage and control our own emotions and being able to use emotions to guide our thoughts and actions. Unlike IQ, which is based on cognitive intelligence, EI is focused on understanding and managing emotions, both in ourselves and in others.

Emotional intelligence is crucial since it profoundly affects both our personal and professional lives. Individuals with high EI are better able to manage conflicts, interact with people, and form enduring connections.

Also, they are better able to tolerate stress and are more resilient in the face of hardship. Leaders with high EI have the capacity to forge effective teams, foster a favorable work atmosphere, and motivate staff to reach their maximum potential.

Emotional intelligence allows us to navigate the complexities of human emotions and build strong, positive connections with others.

Understanding the components of emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a term that is gaining increasing importance in the field of leadership. It demonstrates a leader's capacity to be sensitive to both their own and others' sentiments. The five elements of this understanding are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

The basis of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. It alludes to the capacity to be aware of and comprehend one's own feelings, strengths, and values.  This is important because it allows leaders to remain calm and composed in stressful situations.

Motivation refers to the drive and passion to achieve one's goals. Motivated leaders are capable of inspiring and motivating their teams to accomplish their objectives. The capacity to comprehend and experience other people's feelings is known as empathy. This is crucial because it enables leaders to develop a personal connection with their team members and establish rapport and trust.

The aptitude for successful interpersonal contact, connection building, and teamwork is referred to as "social skills.”

Socially adept managers may foster a welcoming and inclusive workplace where everyone is treated with respect and value. Understanding and developing these five components of emotional intelligence is crucial for effective leadership.

How to improve self-awareness: Understanding your own emotions

Gaining emotional intelligence begins with increasing self-awareness. The foundation of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which involves recognizing and understanding your own feelings. A lack of control and direction in one's life can result from the fact that many people live without truly comprehending their own feelings.

An excellent way to begin is by keeping a journal of your emotions and the events that lead to them.

Moreover, mindfulness meditation might help you become more self-aware. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. You can train yourself to monitor your emotions without reacting impulsively by engaging in regular mindfulness practices.

It is also helpful to seek feedback from others. Ask trusted friends or colleagues to provide honest feedback about your behavior and how it impacts others.

Although this process might be challenging, it can also offer important insights into your own emotions and actions. While developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong process, growing self-awareness is a crucial first step.

How to improve self-regulation: Managing your emotions

Self-regulation is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence that can assist leaders in effectively controlling their emotions and behaviors.

Self-regulation is the capacity to restrain your emotions and irrational impulses and react to stressful events with composure and reason. Leaders are better equipped to make wise decisions, forge more solid bonds with others, and increase their overall effectiveness when they are able to respond to situations with self-regulation.

Angry black man having video conversation via laptopGreater self-awareness of one's emotions and how they influence conduct might be beneficial for leadership. This can involve taking a pause, reflecting on their emotions, and thinking through how they want to respond. Another tactic is to engage in mindfulness exercises, which can assist people in becoming more present and less emotionally reactive.

Leaders can also work on developing a growth mindset, which involves seeing challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. Leaders can then tackle difficult issues with inquiry and openness as opposed to being overwhelmed or defensive.

Leaders can work on building resilience, which involves developing the ability to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. This can entail learning coping mechanisms, creating a network of allies, and concentrating on the positive parts of a circumstance.

By improving their self-regulation skills, leaders can become more effective in managing their emotions and leading others with empathy, understanding, and grace.

How to improve motivation: Channeling emotions towards a goal

Motivation is a powerful force that drives individuals to achieve their goals. As a leader, it is essential to understand how to channel emotions towards a common goal. Emotions are important in determining a person's conduct and can be used to increase motivation.

Aligning an individual's ambitions with the organization's overarching goals is a powerful strategy for boosting motivation. People are more likely to have a feeling of purpose and drive to achieve their goals when their goals are aligned.

Leaders can do this by clearly communicating the organization's vision and goals to employees and ensuring that they understand how their individual efforts contribute to the larger picture.

Another way to channel emotions towards a goal is to create a positive work environment. This can be achieved by recognizing and rewarding employee achievements, providing opportunities for professional growth and development, and fostering a culture of collaboration and support.

How to improve empathy: Understanding other people's emotions

One of the most crucial emotional intelligence abilities a leader may have is empathy. Building solid relationships and efficient communication within a team depends on your ability to relate to and understand the emotions of others.

It's critical to actively listen to others and pay attention to their body language and tone of speech in order to increase empathy. This can help you understand the subtleties of their mood better.

One of the most effective ways to develop empathy is to put oneself in the position of others. This will help you approach them with greater understanding and compassion. Spend some time thinking about your own emotions and working on healthy ways to control them so that you can better understand and help others.

How to improve social skills: Communicating and connecting with others

Effective communication and strong interpersonal skills are essential for leaders with high emotional intelligence. In order to effectively communicate their mission and goals, leaders must be able to connect with individuals on a personal level. Furthermore, they ought to be able to comprehend the requirements, feelings, and viewpoints of the people and groups they engage with.

To improve social skills, leaders should actively practice active listening, empathy, and effective communication skills. Active listening involves paying complete attention to a person who is speaking, without interruption or distraction. It means focusing on both verbal and nonverbal cues to better understand the speaker's message and feelings.

Smiling young female entrepreneur checking time on wristwatch while working on laptopThe capacity for empathy is the capacity to comprehend and experience others' emotions. Effective leaders are able to put themselves in others' situations and consider things from their point of view. This enables improved decision-making that considers others' needs and feelings as well as more effective communication.

Effective communication involves not only speaking clearly but also being able to read nonverbal cues and respond appropriately. Leaders should also be able to adapt their communication styles to suit different audiences and situations.

To improve social skills, leaders should also seek out opportunities to practice and develop their skills. This could include attending training sessions, working with a coach or mentor, or seeking feedback from colleagues and employees. By investing in their social skills, leaders can build stronger relationships with their teams and help their organizations to thrive.

The benefits of incorporating emotional intelligence in the workplace

Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill that can bring numerous benefits to the workplace. The team may perform better overall when the leader integrates emotional intelligence into their management approach. This may lead to improved teamwork, collaboration, and communication.

Self-aware leaders are better able to control their own emotions, which can help them avoid becoming overwhelmed or making snap judgments. This may result in a happier workplace and improved connections with coworkers.

Another benefit is improved communication. A leader's capacity for empathy and effective communication with their team members are both enhanced by high emotional intelligence. Better collaboration, greater trust, and ultimately better outcomes may arise from this.

Furthermore, emotional intelligence can help leaders manage conflicts in the workplace. When leaders are skilled in emotional intelligence, they are better equipped to handle disagreements or disputes in a calm and productive manner. This can help prevent conflicts from escalating and ultimately improve team morale. Finally, integrating emotional intelligence into the workplace can lead to enhanced teamwork, collaboration, and communication.

How to become an emotionally intelligent Leader

Emotional intelligence is a highly sought-after trait in leaders. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to navigate complex situations, handle conflicts with diplomacy, and inspire their team to work towards a common goal.

If you're looking to become an emotionally intelligent leader, here are some tips:

  • Practice self-awareness

Take the time to reflect on your emotions and reactions to situations. Identify your triggers and work on managing them effectively.

  • Develop empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Practice active listening and try to put yourself in your team member's shoes to better understand their perspectives.

  • Enhance your communication abilities

Establishing great relationships with your team requires effective communication. To make sure that your message is understood, practice your verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

  • Manage conflict with diplomacy

Conflict is inevitable in any leadership position. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to manage conflict with diplomacy, understanding that differing opinions can lead to growth and innovation.

  • Lead with authenticity

Be true to yourself and your values. Genuine leaders are more likely to win the team members respect and trust.


It takes time and practice to develop into an emotionally savvy leader, but the benefits are worthwhile. Your team will appreciate your leadership style and be more motivated to work towards your shared goals.

We hope you enjoyed our article about the power of emotional intelligence in leadership. While IQ is important, it's not the only thing that makes a good leader. Emotional intelligence is equally important and can elevate a leader's effectiveness to the next level.