executive coaching

Why emotional intelligence is important in Leadership


When pursuing a role in a leadership position, one must possess emotional intelligence. It is emotional intelligence which helps you effectively coach teams, cope with stress, deliver honest feedback, and collaborate well with others.

It is highly likely you have invested a lot of time and money in training to get to where you are. But have you taken the time out to develop your emotional intelligence? Though often thought of as an innate quality, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed like any other.

Ten years ago, psychologist Daniel Goleman told the Harvard Business Review that the most effective leaders have a high degree of emotional intelligence and that it is, in some cases, more important than the technical skills and general intelligence that won the leader a position in the industry at entry level.

Emotional intelligence is often what separates highly skilled agents from CEOs.

In his research, Dr. Goleman found that 80-90% of high performers in the C-suite are marked by high emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to acknowledge, control, and develop your own feelings, whilst navigating the same for others.

Those with high emotional intelligence can comprehend how their emotions affect others and are able to use that knowledge to create positive outcomes.

Psychologist Howard Gardner defined emotional intelligence as “the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”

He also says that people who are high in emotional intelligence are easy to recognize because they know themselves well and can recognize the emotions of others, and they are affable, resilient, and optimistic.

How do I know if I have emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is broken down into four core competencies:

  • Self-Awareness. You will be able to recognize your own thoughts and feelings. You’ll own and acknowledge your emotions. You’ll accurately and frankly identify your strengths and limits and you will be prepared to own both. To assess your self-awareness, you may complete a 360-degree feedback exercise, which evaluates your performance and matches it up against the feedback from your boss, peers, and direct reports. In 360-degree feedback, you gain insights into your behaviors and how you are perceived by others in the organization.
  • Self-Management. Self-management refers to the capability to control your emotions, mostly in stressful circumstances, and uphold a positive outlook despite setbacks. Leaders who lack self-management tend to react automatically and have a harder time keeping their impulses in check. Competency in self-management enables you to select which of your strengths you emphasize in varied situations, whether your environment requires you to demonstrate trustworthiness, control of your impulses, flexibility, innovativeness, or responsibility.
  • Social awareness. Although it’s vital to comprehend and manage your own emotions, you also need to know how to gauge the emotions in a room. Social awareness defines your ability to identify others’ emotions and the changing aspects in play within your organization. Empathy is a great metric for social awareness. An empathetic leader will know if something is wrong somewhere even if someone isn’t spelling it out.
  • Relationship Management. People strong in relationship management find it easy to build bonds, collaborate, team build, lead, communicate, influence, and resolve conflict. If you want to keep your team happy, you need to have those tough conversations to resolve conflict: In a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 72 percent of employees ranked “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the top factor in job satisfaction.

How to improve your emotional intelligence

Dr. John Behr, executive coach with more than 25 years’ experience suggests: “One of the key ways to develop emotional intelligence is to slow down and zoom out, take time to assess situations properly and avoid reacting, rather than thoughtfully responding.

Take the time to reflect carefully on how you react to different situations and to people. Actively search for feedback on how you respond to stressful situations. Ask yourself ‘why’ when you observe people reacting to you. Involve more points of view (especially where you think you might hear something you don’t want to hear), and, again, slow down.”

Developing your emotional intelligence

You might think you can ignore emotional intelligence and the part it plays in business or that you can develop it on your own, but remember that a huge part of emotional intelligence is admitting where you are weak and asking for help.

Dr. John Behr has been coaching executives for more than 25 years and has vast experience of discussing emotional intelligence and the obstacles that it can present when there is a lack of this.

By developing a relationship of trust, John invites leaders to candidly examine their strengths and limitations, often uncovering foundational mindsets that may reduce their effectiveness or their ability to address the new types of challenges posed by organizations in transition.

Dr. Behr offers one-on-one coaching sessions and executive assessments that build on your strengths, identify, and develop new competencies and behaviors to expand your capabilities, and help you facilitate self-discovery.

This coaching will help you prepare for specific challenges, align yourself with corporate priorities, and develop new approaches to address issues within an organization that you are leading.

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