What Makes a Good Leader and Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

When asked to describe great leadership qualities, which traits come to mind? Perhaps: confidence, determination, vision, intelligence, and resilience, to name a few. However, people often overlook emotional intelligence when considering what makes a good leader.

heart and brain connection

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, a psychological theory developed by Peter Salovey and John Mayer, is the ability to perceive, access, and generate emotions so as to understand emotional knowledge and regulate it to promote emotional and intellectual growth. An essential component of emotional intelligence is the ability to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Daniel Goleman popularized the term “emotional intelligence” in the late 1990s. He found that the distinguishing feature of truly effective leaders was a high degree of emotional intelligence. A leader can be very creative, gifted, determined, acquire a privileged education, but without understanding emotional intelligence, he or she will not be as successful a leader as somebody that does.

Why is Emotional Intelligence Essential in Leadership?

Leaders set the tone of the organizational culture. Lack of emotional intelligence contributes to a toxic environment. Emotional intelligence enables leaders to better understand their company, employees, and the internal culture. This in turn allows them to lead with a clear understanding of the organization’s internal state and cultivate an empathetic yet efficient workplace.

If we take the view that leadership is always a relationship, then emotional intelligence fosters the development of that relationship. Relationships thrive on trust, openness, and empathy. By establishing these important bonds with employees, partners, and even competitors, emotionally intelligent leaders operate on a win-win mentality, taking thoughtful and deliberate decisions.

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How to Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not merely a gift some people are born with while others are not. It can be developed. Emotional intelligence training is an essential element of many leadership training programs. Even if you don’t aspire (yet) to become a leader, emotional intelligence training could enhance your life. To being the journey, take an emotional intelligence test with AllBe to assess your current level. Through customized coaching we will explore ways to build your leadership and emotional intelligence skills. 

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