Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Given my training as a psychologist, I’ve spent a good part of my career attending to the emotional states and wellness of others.  As I transitioned into coaching, I was immediately drawn to the concept of emotional intelligence and its impact on business success.  As I reflect on my own professional success and that of my clients, I come back to the importance of strong relationships in business development.  EI is a powerful concept and tool in developing relationships that lead to business success.

When psychologist Daniel Goleman published the breakthrough book, Emotional Intelligence, he presented compelling evidence that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a better predictor of success that IQ, creating a tremendous buzz in the corporate world.  When matched for cognitive intelligence (e.g., IQ) and job-related skills, people with higher EI outperform those with lower EI.  High EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) is associated with increased profitability, productivity, sales, morale, cooperation and employee retention.

What is EI and why is it important in being a good leader? 

Goleman defines EI as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others; for motivating ourselves; for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

In a teleseminar I led for a group of experts in leadership development, I asked them to describe the ideal boss.  The following characteristics emerged:  integrity, leads from head and heart; self-aware; they look at you while they listen; fully engaged when in a conversation; empathic; great mentors; lead by example; good communicator; visionary.  The majority of these qualities are elements of emotionally intelligent leadership – “resonant” leaders connect with and try to take the perspective of others, are supportive, understanding and have a clear vision.

You can basically think of EI as having four components: two relating to self (personal competence) and two relating to others (social competence).

EI table (2)

  1. Self awareness.  The core principle of EI, this includes emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.  Leaders who are aware of their internal responses and are self-confident are in a better position to understand others.  Do you know your triggers and predispositions?  The more self-aware you become, the better leader you can be.
  2. Self management. The next principle in the personal competencies of EI includes self-regulation and motivation. Emotional control, adaptability, initiative and conscientiousness are qualities included here.  Good leaders pause, reflect then choose ways to act in a controlled, thoughtful way.
  3. Social awareness.  Moving into the realm of understanding others, good leaders are empathic and have an emotional understanding of and concern for their team.  They can hear the feelings behind what someone says.  On a macro level, this includes awareness of the emotional landscape and culture of an organization.  Leaders with high social awareness tend to use active listening skills and can find commonalities across people and situations.  They put themselves in the other person’s shoes.
  4. Relationship management.  Here’s where the rubber meets the road in a leader’s ability to influence, inspire and develop others.  Those strong in relationship management build collaborative, effective teams, know how to deal with conflict and give constructive feedback.

So what’s your EQ?  Do any of these areas resonate as being a particular strength or needing some additional work?  To take a quiz to learn more about your EQ and receive additional EI resources, email me - and put EQ in the subject line.

As usual, we can learn from Eleanor Roosevelt, an emotionally intelligent leader who said:

“To handle yourself, use your head; To handle others, use your heart.”

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a business development and leadership coach, author, speaker and gloria-miele-head-shottrainer who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  To learn more and receive a free tool to optimize your strengths, sign up to receive our free newsletter at