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Emotional Intelligence in Leadership | Develop Effectively in 2024


Astrid Tran 09 January, 2024 9 min read

Mental Intelligence vs Emotional Intelligence in Leadership? Which is more important for a great leader? Check out AhaSlides Best Guide in 2024

There has been a controversial argument about whether leaders with high emotional intelligence are better at leadership and management than leaders with high mental intelligence.

Given that many great leaders in the world have high IQ but it doesn't guarantee that possessing IQ without EQ contributes to successful leadership. Understanding the essence of emotional intelligence in leadership can help the management team have the right choices and make the right decisions.

The article will not only focus on explaining the notion of emotional intelligence but also go further to learn deep insights into the role of emotional intelligence in leadership and how to practice this skill.


Who invented 'emotional intelligence'?Dr. Daniel Goleman
When was 'emotional intelligence' invented?1995
Who first used the terminology 'emotional intelligence'?John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale
Overview of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Table of Contents

Emotional Intelligence in leadership
Mental Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence in leadership? - Source: Unsplash

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

The notion of emotional intelligence became popularly used by Daniel Goleman in the 1990s but first emerged in a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch, which indicates someone has the ability to perceive and monitor their own emotions and those of others and used them to lead the thinking and behavior of others. 

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Examples

  • Expressing their openness, respect, curiosity and active listening to others story and feelings without fear of offending them
  • Developing a collective sense of objectives, and a strategic plan for achieving them
  • Taking responsibility for their actions and mistakes
  • Generating and encouraging enthusiasm, certainty, and optimism as well as building trust and collaboration
  • Offering multiple perspectives to motivate changes and innovation of organization
  • Building consistency organizational culture
  • Knowing how to control their feelings, especially anger or disappointment

Which Emotional Intelligence Skills are You Good at?

When introducing the article "What Makes A Leader", Daniel Goleman defined emotional intelligence in leadership with 5 elements clearly explained as follows:

#1. Self-awareness

Being self-aware of your feelings and their reasons is the primary step before you get to realize others' emotions. It is also about your ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses. When you're in a leadership position, you should be aware of which of your emotions will have either a positive or negative effect on your employees.

#2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is about controlling and adapting your emotions to changing circumstances. It involves the ability to recover from dejection and dissatisfaction to act in a way compatible with your values. A leader cannot control anger or rage appropriately and cannot guarantee the team's effectiveness. They are more scared to do the wrong thing than be motivated to do the right thing. It is quite two different stories.

#3. Empathy

Not many leaders can put themselves in another's shoes, especially when making decisions as they have to put task accomplishment and organization goals first. An emotionally intelligent leader is thoughtful and considerate of any actions you take and any decision they make to make sure no one in their team is left or an unfair issue happens.

#4. Motivation

John Hancock said, "The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions". But how do you get along and influence them? Motivation is the core of emotional intelligence in leadership. It is about a strong desire to achieve ambiguous but realistic goals not only for themselves but also to encourage their subordinates to join them. A leader has to understand what motivates employees.

#5. Social Skills

Social skills are about dealing with others, in the other words, relationship management. It seems so true that "When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion", said Dale Carnegie. Social skills have a strong connection to great communicators. And they are always the best example of behavior and discipline for their team members to follow.

emotional intelligence in leadership
The role of emotional intelligence in leadership effectiveness - Source: Freepik

Why is Emotional Intelligence in Leadership so Important?

The role of emotional intelligence in leadership is undeniable. The time seems right for leaders and managers to take advantage of emotional intelligence for leadership effectiveness. There is no longer the era of using punishment and authority to force others to follow your rule, especially in business leadership, educational training, the service industry, and more.

There are many ideal models of emotionally intelligent leadership in history that have had a strong influence on millions of people and have attempted for a better world like Martin Luther King, Jr.

He is famous for performing high levels of emotional intelligence to motivate and inspire people to join him by standing up for what's right and equality. As one of the most typical examples of emotional intelligence in leadership, Martin Luther King connected with his listeners by sharing the same values and vision of the future with his most authentic feelings and transmitting compassion.

The dark side of emotional intelligence in leadership refers to using it as a technique to manipulate people's thinking or trigger negative emotions to serve harmful purposes, which is also mentioned in Adam Grant's book. It will be a double-edged sword if you don't use it appropriately.

One of the most iconic negative examples of using emotional intelligence in leadership is Adolf Hitler. Soon realizing the power of emotional intelligence, he persuaded people by strategically expressing emotions leading to a personality cult and as the result, his followers "stop thinking critically and just emote".

How to Practice Emotional Intelligence in Leadership?

In Primal leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance, authors divided emotional leadership styles into six categories: Authoritative, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coercive (Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, 2001). Choosing emotional leadership styles should be careful since you don't know how much impact each style has on the sentiment and intuition of the people that you're leading.

Here are 5 ways to practice emotional intelligence in leadership:

#1. Practice mindfulness

Be aware of what you say and your word use. Practicing thinking in the most mindful and thoughtful way can help manage and respond to your own emotions. It also helps to reduce your negative feelings and you’re less likely to get burnout or overwhelmed. You can spend time writing a journal or reflecting on your activity at the end of the day.

#2. Accept and Learn from feedback

You can try a surprising coffee or snack session to have time to talk and listen to your employees which can support emotional connection. You also can have a survey to get to know what your employees really need and what can motivate them. There is a lot of valuable information after this kind of deep conversation and survey. As you can see from famous leaders with high emotional intelligence, honest and high-quality conservations are the best ways to get feedback from your team. Accept what the feedback says whether it is positive or negative and practice holding your grudge or excitement when you see this feedback. Don't let them influence your decision.

emotional intelligence in leadership
Improve Emotional intelligence in leadership - AhaSlides employee feedback

#3. Learn about body languages

It is never useless if you invest your time and effort in learning deep insight into the world of body language. There is no better way to recognize other moods than looking at their body language. Specific gestures, tone of voice, and eye control, ... can reveal their real thinking and feelings. Never ignoring any detail in their actions can help you have a better guess of true emotions and quickly and appropriately respond to them.

#4. Learn about perks and punishment

If you are thinking of which kind of perk or punishment better works on motivating employees, bear in mind that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. It is somehow true that many employees love to hear praise from their manager when they do a great job or earn an achievement, and they will continue to perform better.

It is said that about 58% of job success is based on emotional intelligence. Punishment is needed in some cases, especially when you want to maintain equality and trust and prevent conflicts.

#5. Take an online course or training

You will never know how to solve it if you never encounter it. It is necessary to join training or courses about improving emotional intelligence. You can consider the training that gives you a chance to engage with employees and practice flexible scenarios. You also can learn various ways of resolving conflicts during training sessions.

In addition, you can design comprehensive emotional intelligence training for your employee with different team-building activities to nourish empathy and promote a better understanding of others. By that, you can have a chance to observe their actions, attitudes, and behaviors during playing a game.

Do you know listening skills can improve effectively emotional intelligence in leadership? Gather employee’s opinions and thoughts with 'Anonymous Feedback' tips from AhaSlides.

Key Takeaways

So what kind of leader do you want to be? Basically, there is no perfect right or wrong to using emotional intelligence in leadership as most things work like two sides of the same coin. In the pursuit of both short-term and long-term goals, it is needed for leaders to consider equipping themselves with emotional intelligence skills.

No matter which kind of leadership style you choose to practice, AhaSlides properly the best educational and training tools to assist leaders in training and engaging employees for better team effectiveness and cohesion. Try AhaSlides right away to boost your team's performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one's own emotions, as well as effectively navigate and respond to the emotions of others. It involves a set of skills that relate to emotional awareness, empathy, self-regulation, and social interaction. Therefore, this is an extremely important skill in leadership position.

How many types of emotional intelligence are there?

There are five different categories: internal motivation, self-regulation, self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness.

What are the 3 levels of emotional intelligence?

Three levels include Dependent, Autonomous, and Collaborative.