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Becoming Emotionally Intelligent as a Leader

Guess what? Buzzwords and trends are not just for your day-to-day life. They occur in business, too. And sure, like all trends and buzzwords – some of them you want to embrace, and some of them you want to avoid.

Right now, everyone seems to be talking about EI – emotional intelligence – and its importance in business. 

I’ve got to say…I’m here for it.

It’s definitely an important part of business. 

But what is it exactly? And why is it important? And what should you know about it?

Consider this your crash course on EI for leaders!

Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware and understand your own emotions and the emotions of others. It includes knowing when you’re feeling something, why that emotion arises, as well as recognizing these feelings in other people too! It sounds simple, but it’s actually a skill that takes time and practice to develop. (Like everything we do!)

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important

Emotional intelligence has been shown to have a strong impact on one’s quality of life. In particular, EI contributes positively toward better social relationships – and at work, this is crucial. If you possess this trait, it allows you to more easily navigate conflicts with peers or superiors without getting into arguments about their feelings (which often leads nowhere). 

Emotional intelligence can also lead to increased job satisfaction due to its role in helping you manage stress levels through understanding what triggers you emotionally from day-to-day, allowing you to stay productive and keep your cool under pressure. (Who doesn’t need this?)

How To Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

The best way to develop your emotional intelligence skills is by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of being fully aware and in the present moment, which includes paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without judgement. When you practice mindfulness regularly, you will start to become more in tune with your emotions as they arise; thus allowing you to better understand yourself and others, too!

You can also work on developing other key EI skills. 

Five Common Focuses for EI

When it comes to EI and leadership, these are the five most common focuses: self-awareness, self-management (self-regulation), social awareness, effective communication, and relationship management.

Let’s take a look at each one a bit deeper.


Yes, self-awareness is the key to emotional intelligence (and a topic we’ve explored on the blog before). Without it, you can’t recognize your own emotions or the strengths and weaknesses in you or others. You need this to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. In my job, we use 360 Feedback to help us see where our strengths and weaknesses lie. It can be a really eye-opening experience the first time you go through it – but it has sooooo much value.

Self-Management (Self-Regulation)

The best way to be a successful leader is having strong self-management. This skill helps people stay positive and calm in stressful situations, which allows them to see obstacles as opportunities for improvement instead of as insurmountable roadblocks. Setting measurable goals can really help you here.

Social Awareness

Being empathetic means understanding another person’s state of mind and feelings. This is social awareness. On a professional level, this can help you better relate to your peers in the workplace by creating open communication between them, which may lead to smoother resolutions when conflicts arise. It also promotes trust and creates a culture where people feel free to express themselves.

Effective Communication

Communication can be a challenging skill to master, but you’ve never met an effective leader without it. (At least I haven’t!) And remember, communication is not always about talking…listening is equally important

Relationship Management

This is all about your ability to resolve conflict on your team and still be an effective leader, coach, and mentor – and we all know this can get tricky. But if you’re focusing on the four skills above – this does get easier, too. 

So, yeah…that’s the Cliffs Notes on EI. (Do they still make Cliffs Notes – or have I completely just dated myself?) And I’m sure after you read it – you could also understand its great importance. 

I want to take it one step further and bring EI full circle to my passion of helping women be confident – and you can guess where I’m going! Without confidence, you can’t be emotionally intelligent. Yup, I said it. You need confidence as a leader, as a coach, and as a mentor to bring these things to yourself and your team. They require work. Sometimes hard work. But I have all the faith in you…you can do this! (But if you need help – I’m here for you! Just reach out!)

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