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Emotional Intelligence and Leadership: The Four Things You Need to Know to Lead Effectively

There are lots of factors for successful leadership in the workplace, but there is one factor that can separate a good leader from a great one, and that’s emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to use your emotions in a positive and constructive way in relationships with others. It’s about reading and understanding the emotions of others and engaging them in a way that brings people toward you, not away from you. It’s about being “choiceful” in how you interact and engage with them.

EQ at work

The workplace is a social network. It’s a hotbed of emotions, egos, stress, and conflict. You can’t pick and choose who you want to get along with, and you may not have much input into who you work with. You have to develop a skill set in which you can get along with everyone.

Playing well with others is a key to success. Managing conflict and getting along with different personalities is imperative. That’s where emotional intelligence comes in.

Those leaders who can manage relationships are the ones who are most successful. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the biggest reason that managers fail is because of poor interpersonal skills. Another survey showed that EQ accounts for an 85 percent difference between a good leader and an excellent leader.

Emotionally intelligent leaders can motivate and inspire their staffs and navigate the workplace with greater ease. If you want to be a great leader you need to develop your EQ.

Developing your EQ

Some people are born with high EQs. They are just naturally receptive and responsive to other people, are able to engage with them in a genuine fashion, and are able to control their own emotions. 

But fear not. Emotional intelligence can be learned. First, take a test to see where you stand, and what you need to work on. Here are a few sites to try:



http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=3037(Be warned: this one has 146 questions!)

The four components of EQ

So, how did you do? Chances are, if you had any shortcomings they were in one of four areas that make up a person’s emotional intelligence. These are the four basic competencies involved in EQ, and these are the things you need to develop: 

  1. Self-awareness: You need to know what is going on inside you. You need to know if you are being hijacked by your emotions. You need to know what your triggers are. Since EQ is about being choiceful, you have to understand what’s going on inside you so you can choose wisely.
  1. Self-management: Knowing is one thing, but managing it is the key. You may know you are rash or impulsive, but if you can’t manage your emotions or your behavior you won’t have high EQ. 
  1. Awareness of others (social awareness): This is the awareness of other people’s feelings, needs, and concerns. The workplace is a social system, and you have to be aware of others, what is happening with them, looking for cues, and being aware of their emotions, their needs, and their wants.
  1. Relationship management: This is about building positive working relationships with your colleagues and your peers. Are you drawing them toward you or are you pushing them away? Emotions are contagious; what do yours do?

Emotionally intelligent leaders are successful leaders. They get along well with others, they listen and engage, they inspire and motivate, and they develop good relationships with people, no matter the personality. Sound like a tall order? Not really. You can develop your EQ with a little practice. Good luck!


Recognize how emotional intelligence impacts workplace interactions.

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