Career Advice, Insights

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important For Effective Leadership and 4 Ways To Build It

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“75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including the inability to handle interpersonal problems, unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”  -Center for Creative Leadership

Most prosperous employees, senior leaders, and executives know that to be successful in the workplace, and in life, it’s essential to have a high level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence or EQ is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at school and work, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you. Demonstrating high emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social and political complexities of the workplace, become an effective leader, and take the next step in your career. Now, many companies are taking inventory of how emotional intelligence is just as important as technical and hard skills before hiring a potential candidate.  

Emotional intelligence is known to be an integral component of demonstrating effective leadership. The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to your emotions, is a powerful tool for leading a team. Having the insight and ability to be perceptively in tune with your team members’ feelings, overcoming stress at the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others, is described as emotional intelligence and can significantly enhance a team’s performance and productivity. Emotional intelligence for leadership can consist of these five attributes: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, relationship management, and effective communication.  

By connecting to core emotions, becoming accepting, and being aware of how they affect others and your decisions, you can learn how to garner emotional intelligence. Frequently, leaders who lack emotional intelligence will not be able to effectively gauge the needs, wants, and expectations of those they are trying to lead. Managers and senior leaders who tend to react rashly from their emotions can create mistrust among their teammates and direct reports, which can alter and damage work relationships. Responding, instead of processing emotions, can be detrimental to work culture, attitudes, and productivity towards projects and the organization. Leaders can exercise and practice their EQ levels by being self-aware and understand how their verbal and non-verbal communication can affect and hinder the team. Reference our four key skills for building your EQ and improving your ability to manage emotions and connect with others, below:  

Self-management – Aim to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take the initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances. For you to engage your EQ, you must be able to leverage your emotions to make constructive and intentional decisions about your behavior. When you become stressed, it’s easy to lose control of your feelings and the ability to act thoughtfully and appropriately.

Self-awareness – Become cognizant of your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses to begin to build self-confidence. 

Social awareness – Develop empathy for yourself and others. People with high EQ levels can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization, which is excellent for managing and leading a team.

Relationship management – Strive to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate, inspire, and influence others, and manage conflict to ensure team harmony.

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