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Emotional intelligence in leadership

Kirjoittanut: Ariel Cohen - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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Emotional Intelligence in Leadership 


What it is and why you need it as a leader 


“Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.” (Bradberry 2017) 


Emotional intelligence in a nutshell is the the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence involves a range of skills, including the ability to empathize with others, regulate one’s own emotions, communicate effectively, and build strong relationships. It is a critical skill for success in personal and professional relationships, as it allows individuals to understand and navigate social situations effectively. According to Dr. Bradberry, who is an award-winning author of 1# the bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, emotional intelligence is often divided into four core skills under two primary competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. By developing these skills, individuals can become more effective leaders, team members, and communicators.  


Personal competence is about self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus mainly on you as an individual rather than interactions with others. Personal competence is about the ability to recognize and regulate your emotions and behavior. Self-awareness is the ability to understand your emotions and be aware of them when they happen. Self-management is the ability to utilize the awareness of emotions to stay adaptable and with positive intentions, direct your behavior in the right direction.  


Social competence refers to an individual’s ability to understand and manage social interactions effectively. It involves social awareness and relationship management skills. 

Social awareness involves accurately analyzing and understanding the emotions and behaviors of others, as well as understanding their motives in order to react correctly and improve the quality of relationships.  

Relationship management involves using one’s own emotional intelligence and awareness of others’ emotions to navigate social interactions successfully, build and maintain positive relationships, and communicate effectively. 

Together, social awareness and relationship management form the foundation of social competence, which is a crucial component of emotional intelligence and plays a significant role in personal and professional success.  

Emotional intelligence is a crucial aspect of human behavior that differs from intellect. There is no correlation between emotional intelligence (EI) and intelligence quotient (IQ). An individual’s emotional intelligence cannot be predicted based on their level of intelligence. Intelligence refers to one’s ability to learn, which remains constant throughout life, while emotional intelligence is an editable set of skills that can be cultivated and enhanced through practice. 

While some people may have naturally good skills in emotional intelligence, anyone can develop and improve their emotional intelligence skills through consistent effort and application. Even if an individual is not born with high emotional intelligence, they can still acquire and learn these skills to achieve greater emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is an essential part of the whole person” (Bradberry 2017) 


What would be the last piece of this puzzle? Personality. Personality defines each of us. Personality is the pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that defines an individual. It is determined by essential characteristics, such as introversion or extroversion, and remains relatively stable over a person’s lifetime (apart from mental health issues or traumas). Again, personality or IQ alone cannot predict an individual’s level of emotional intelligence.  


Emotional intelligence, IQ, and personality paint our makeup. Emotional intelligence relates to an individual’s ability to perceive, understand, and regulate emotions, while IQ measures cognitive abilities and intelligence. Personality covers an individual’s characteristic traits and behaviors. 


Together, these factors provide a more broad understanding of what drives an individual’s behavior and interactions with others and they are all important and connected components of human psychology. (Bradberry 2017) 



Emotional Intelligence in leadership 

Effective leaders understand that emotional intelligence is a critical skill for recognizing and solving their team members’ problems. As a result, emotional intelligence has become an important part of many leadership styles. Interestingly, emotional intelligence is a significant measure of a leader’s effectiveness. Experts believe that intelligence quotient (IQ), technical skills, and communication skills are irrelevant if a leader lacks emotional intelligence. As a result, the growing importance of emotional intelligence has motivated many leaders to learn and include it in their leadership style to promote innovation, job satisfaction, and a positive working environment in their company. (Emeritus 2022) 


Additionally, emotional intelligence helps leaders to navigate conflicts and manage team dynamics effectively. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are better equipped to recognize and manage their own emotions, as well as those of their team members. This allows them to create a more harmonious work environment and build stronger relationships with their employees. Emotional intelligence also helps leaders to understand their team members’ perspectives, needs, and concerns, which allows them to provide better support and mentorship. 


Emotionally intelligent leaders are better equipped to build and maintain strong relationships with clients, customers, and partners, which can ultimately lead to more business opportunities and revenue growth.  


Improving emotional intelligence as a leader 


Like talked earlier, emotional intelligence is a skill that we can improve. It is an ongoing process that we can practice every single day. In the workplace, or any other situation with others, consider them an opportunity to test and develop your emotional intelligence.  


  1. Observe and examine. By observing and reflecting on your own feelings and reactions, as well as the people and situations around you, you can gain a better understanding of how you handle stress and how your behavior may impact others. This will help you develop greater self-awareness and ultimately become a more emotionally intelligent leader.  


  1. Evaluate. Self-evaluation can help leaders to identify areas where they need to improve and develop strategies to enhance their emotional intelligence. It can also help them understand their own emotional triggers and how to manage their responses in difficult situations. By knowing their strengths and weaknesses, leaders can work on building their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses to become more effective leaders. Self-evaluation is an important step in developing a strong sense of self-awareness. 


  1. Pause and regulate. After developing self-awareness and improving your thoughts, emotions, and stress triggers, you can learn to manage them. This may involve simple practices such as taking a moment to think before reacting, responding instead of reacting, learning to channel emotions, holding yourself accountable for your behavior and reactions, and being receptive to feedback. 


  1. Be positive and motivated. A positive attitude will have a ripple effect around you. Positivity is contagious.  


  1. Practice humility and empathy. Effective leaders don’t seek recognition or attention for their own achievements; instead, they give credit and recognition to their team members, allowing them to shine. Being emphatic is the key to problem-solving and seeing things from another’s perspective. 


  1. Focus on social skills. Learning some simple and common social skills will take you far. Smiling, listening (with actually listening) to others, making sure to understand before responding, thinking before saying it out loud, giving constructive feedback and always keeping your word will boost your emotional intelligence skills. (Kingston Human Capital) 




Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It involves a range of skills, including the ability to empathize with others, regulate one’s own emotions, communicate effectively, and build strong relationships. Improving emotional intelligence is an ongoing process that can be practiced every day. Leaders can improve their emotional intelligence by observing and reflecting on their own feelings and reactions, as well as the people and situations around them, and evaluating their own emotional intelligence skills. Ultimately, emotional intelligence is a crucial aspect of human behavior that plays a significant role in personal and professional success. 



Bradberry. T. 2017. Emotional intelligence: What it is and why you need it. Read on 3.5.2023 



Kingston Human Capital. How great leaders can improve their emotional intelligence. Read on 3.5.2023 



Emeritus blog. 2022. Why emotional intelligence is important in leadership. Read on 3.5.2023 


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