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Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Become a Successful Leader

Updated on February 11, 2011

Emotional Intelligence or EI is an attribute that can be critical to one’s success, and often surpasses cognitive brain power or IQ. In today’s business environment, soft skills are the key to good performance. One’s ability to empathize with, communicative with and understand others has a profound effect on one’s life and works. Here lies the importance of EI which has far-reaching influences on team and personal leaderships. While under tremendous pressure and stress due to deadlines, demanding clients or intense and unproductive meetings, understanding and controlling the situation using EI by mastering the skills involving EI will help a leader and his team to better handle work and life’s challenges. EI helps to bring an unfavorable situation in one’s favor.

Emotional Intelligence or EI Unveiled

Though it took birth as a theory of social intelligence identified by E L Thorndike in 1920, the concept of EI found credence at the corporate scene in 1995 after the publication of Daniel Goleman’s bestseller ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Goleman describes a model of EI comprising four domains and 20 competencies in his most recent book, ‘The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace’.

Components of EI

Self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management are four important factors to assess EI. Self awareness or a detailed understanding of one’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses lead to an honest self assessment. Self management is all about the control and regulation of one’s emotions, while the last two domains are social and concern a person’s ability to manage relationships with others.

Affecting Leadership

According to studies, Emotional Intelligence impacts a leader’s ability to be effective. Research shows that self awareness, communication and influence, commitment and integrity are crucial for a leader’s ability to lead an organization. According to Goleman, managers who do not develop their EI have difficulty in building good relationships with colleagues, subordinates, seniors and clients as well.

According to Goleman, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as threshold capabilities… EI is the sine qua non of leadership.” If it’s got to be good leadership, it has to be supported by effective decisions. For good decision making, all the above mentioned attributes are essential to know oneself and for enhancing inter-personal skills.

EI in incredibly important because a lot of cue that the team gets come directly from the leader. The performance and delivery of the team depends on him to a great extent. This generation looks for instant gratification. That again underscores the importance of EI. At a time when we are losing the art of long face to face conversation, EI is seen as an agent that bridges the gap between what is and what should be.

For Common Good

Often than not, businesses spend a great deal of time deliberating in meetings. To be effective and productive these meetings must be carefully planned, skillfully led and the EI of the participants can affect the outcome of each. One who leads such meetings, the man at the head of the table, need to get all participants to share information and contribute to good decision-making. The key to this is to understand others, being aware of the emotional elements as well as power relationships, leveraging diversity, developing others and bolstering their abilities.


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    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 2 years ago from Dominica

      EL does seem to be a vital element for successful organizations today. It can also be useful in a more personal context.

      Great Information. Thanks for sharing, andycool.

    • andycool profile image

      andycool 5 years ago from the U.S.

      Thanks Arna Baartz for the comment! - Andy

    • Arna Baartz profile image

      Arna Baartz 5 years ago from Australia

      Brilliant stuff!