Emotional Intelligence and Leadership (Simplified)

What differentiates a leader from the other members of his team? I was wondering about it and decided to ask my friends and colleagues on what they thought about it. I got the range of answers:

  • A leader is perfect in all the technical aspects of the project or organization.
  • He leads from the front (cliché).
  • He understands the needs of the team and works in resolving their issues.
  • He negotiates well with the customers and other external entities.
  • He is good at crisis management.
  • His decisions are always balanced and lead to satisfaction of all the stakeholders.

Listing down their answers made me wonder if there is any link to all these attributes of a leader. Technically sound, yes every leader should be perfectly aware of the basics of the work at hand but that doesn’t make him extra-ordinary; how often have we had sports superstars falter once they are given reins of a team? There should be something more to them….

As I discussed in earlier in 8 characteristics of corporate leader, leaders are not good at just a particular skill; they are true all-rounders. When you interview them and ask them about what they feel led to their success, generally they won’t throw jargons at you. Instead, they will tell you specific events from their life, which define them. Most of the leaders don’t really understand what makes them great, because they keep on acquiring new qualities over time which lends method to madness.
Except one or two of the answers given to by my colleagues and friends regarding leadership, rest of them has a common thread: Leader’s behavior towards others. In management circles it is called Emotional Intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

Emotional Intelligence became a catchphrase for Business coaches and Guru after Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist popularized it. People have started to believe and agree that it is the biggest attribute of a successful leader.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability of person to understand and manage behavior and emotions of himself and people he is dealing with. Hey, it’s not a dark magic. It’s a subtle power which every one of us has but we tend use it ineffectively. People with good Emotional Intelligence, are able to channel their emotions better and have a high probability of achieving their goals. They know how they are feeling, why they are feeling so and what impact their emotions have on others. There are 5 basic elements of Emotional Intelligence:

Social skills.

Now we will discuss these attributes in detail and will try to understand how you can improve yourself as a leader by increasing your Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, 5 Crucial Emotional Intelligence Traits Of Highly Effective Leader
5 Basic elements of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Leadership is an art which can be acquired by anyone who is willing to. Increasing your Emotional Intelligence can go a long way in achieving your dream of being a great leader.


Understanding yourself goes a long way in achieving any dream of yours. Being self-aware means you know what makes you tick, what ruins your mood and how your behavior affects people around you. A self-aware leader knows his strengths and weaknesses and then acts in a fashion wherein everyone respects him. He projects a humble yet authoritative personality.

How to increase your self-awareness? 
1) Keep a list of things which makes you give a volatile reaction.
2) List down incidents wherein you were appreciated for your conduct and evaluate what you did well.
3) Ask your friends and family for their frank opinion of your personality. Learn to accept your shortcomings and be open to constructive criticism.


Leaders don’t verbally or physically abuse anyone; they can just put their point across by their silence too. It’s not the loudness of your voice or the strength of your arms which determines your leadership ability; it’s the way you use your brain and control it which makes the difference.  Similarly leaders don’t cheat their way up, they built their way up with integrity and principles.

How to increase your self-regulation quotient?
1) In case you are short-tempered, it is advisable to distract yourself whenever you get angry so that you are able to evaluate the situation better and able to give a positive reaction.
2) Never compromise on your basic moral values and avoid taking short-cuts. Being the leader, you will be a role model for many, don’t let anything stain your image.
3) Take responsibility of your actions and avoid the urge to blaming others for failures. This will not only build a good atmosphere in the team but will earn you brownie points from your subordinates.


      As a leader, you need to motivate yourself constantly. This nature of yours will then trickle down to your teammates.

How to increase your self-motivation? 
1) Take time off and evaluate what you are doing, why you are doing. Probably at this point in your career you might have forgotten what drives you, what makes you love your job? Take some time and enlist what made you choose what you are doing.
2) Set realistic goals and strive to achieve them. Once you have evaluated why you love your job it’s time to set some realistic goals that you wish to achieve. It’s time for executing your plans.
3) Don’t lose hope… ever: Today you might not be where you wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. As a leader you need to learn to be cautiously optimistic and give out positive vibes to your team, which will motivate them to fight the way out of problems.


Ability to put oneself in other’s shoes and understand his mindset is the hallmark of a great leader. This nature of a leader helps build team spirit and a healthy atmosphere, wherein everyone supports each other.  Being emphatic wins you loyalty and respect of your teammates.

How to increase your empathy?
1) Understand other’s psychology. Not everyone has the same background or thought process as yours; you need to understand these differences and try to guess what’s going on in their mind. Learning more about team members will help you pre-empt their reactions.
2) Look out for clues. 95% of our conversation is done non-verbally; look out for body language of others to learn how they are feeling about the conversation. Read the body language and tweak your conversation accordingly.
3) Accept that your subordinates are not your servants. Don’t treat your juniors as slaves, treat them well. Appreciate the hard work done by them.

Social Skills 

Emotional Intelligence of a leader is often judged by his social skills. Usually good communicators tend to be good leaders. It’s doesn't mean you need to be flamboyant, it means that you should be able to convey your thoughts to your team and let them know what exactly is expected from them.

How to improve the social skills part of Emotional Intelligence?
1) Interact with your team on a regular basis. Listen to their issues and try to resolve them as soon as possible.
2) Enjoy the good moments with team and stand by them during tough times. Address them on a regular basis. Let them know you are always around if they want to discuss anything with you.
3) Give useful feed-backs to the team members individually and as a team.

Bottom Line: Emotional Intelligence is not rocket science to understand or pick-up, you just need to take some efforts to gain it. Leaders around the world score high on emotional intelligence and are able to inspire their teams to deliver great results. It’s never too late to learn these skills… Start from today.

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