6 Reasons Why Aspiring Leaders Need to Work on Their Emotional Intelligence

Becoming a leader means acquiring and improving various soft skills. These include time and people management, strategic-thinking, adaptability, self-awareness, empathy, and persuasion.

However, there is another type of soft skill that you have to work on if you want to be an effective, successful leader: emotional intelligence.

Also known as EQ, emotional intelligence pertains to your ability to perceive your emotions and those of others accurately. It also includes your capability to understand the emotional signals coming from or conveyed by relationships.

EQ also refers to your ability to manage your own and other people’s emotions.

With these definitions, it is clear to see that leaders and emotional intelligence go hand in hand. If you have a high EQ, you can start and maintain relationships effectively, manage teams successfully, and have better, productive interactions with everyone in your workplace.

Leadership and EQ

With several soft and hard skills to develop or improve, emotional intelligence may not be on your list of priorities to work on.

However, these six reasons demonstrate the importance of building your EQ and why you should rate high in this capability if you want to be an effective leader:

1.     You boost your self-awareness

Self-awareness refers to your ability to know your strengths and areas of development . This trait also allows you to recognise your emotions and the effects they can have on you and your team.

When your sense of internal awareness is strong, you will make smart, unbiased decisions. This is because you can understand how your feelings can affect your behaviour, judgment, work, and other people.

Being aware of your areas of development can help you become a better leader as well. When you know your shortcomings, you will learn to delegate tasks to the right people who can handle them. This, in turn, allows you to build trust in your team or with other employees.

Moreover, self-aware leaders can effectively connect their actions with words, which helps demonstrate their capabilities, trustworthiness, and professionalism. These are traits that can impress and win people over.

2.     You become more socially aware

Being able to recognise and read others’ emotions and how they affect various operations and areas in the workplace is also a crucial element of emotional intelligence.

Being socially aware means listening to what other people are saying verbally and non-verbally. This means that aside from hearing and processing what others are saying, you have to be able to pick up cues regarding what people are thinking and feeling.

When you have a high EQ, you can easily understand your team members’ or colleagues’ feelings and perspectives. Because of this, you will be able to communicate and collaborate with them more effectively.

While working on your social awareness, practise empathy too. By doing so, you can support your team and improve your relationship with them, while helping each member perform better. This will make you a more effective leader that people will be drawn to.

3.     You learn to manage yourself

Self-management is the ability to manage and regulate your emotions in different situations.

Leaders who cannot regulate themselves properly are prone to making impulsive decisions that lead to undesirable outcomes for the team and sometimes, the organisation. They are also unable to control their emotions and lash out on others.

Allowing your emotions and stressful situations to affect your performance, behaviour, and decisions can cause your subordinates and other people to lose their respect for you. Moreover, you will lose the rapport you have built with them, which can be difficult to get back.

Once you start working on your emotional intelligence, you will learn to keep your emotions and impulsive reactions in check. This will help you become more efficient and productive, even in the most stressful situations.

More importantly, you won’t burn any bridges and keep the respect and trust of the people around you.

4.     You become better at maintaining and improving relationships.

Once you become a leader, you have to be an excellent coach, mentor, and influencer. All these fall under the category relationship management, which you have to work on as you boost your EQ.

The best leaders know how to interact well with people and express their own feelings without hurting or insulting others. Because of this, they have no difficulty starting and maintaining relationships in and outside the workplace.

Being proficient in handling conflicts and providing resolutions is also crucial in maintaining and improving relationships in the workplace.

As a leader, you have to know how to pacify disagreements that arise between employees, customers, and other parties. When you have a high EQ, you will be able to do this effectively.

5.     You improve your communication skills

Your increased emotional awareness and management skills will be useless if you don’t know how to express your thoughts clearly and effectively. Fortunately, people with high EQ also develop excellent communication skills.

With better communication skills, you will be able to provide directions clearly and know what to say in order to inspire and motivate your team. All these can be a deciding factor in whether others listen to you or not.

However, effective communication is not only about knowing how to talk to others. It is also about listening actively and without judgment and asking questions if you need more information to understand something. Emotional intelligence can help you be better at this skill, too.

Whether you are in an important meeting or taking part in planning team-building activities, your communication skills can help you in various ways.

6.     You can lead with your heart

Finally, true leaders can show their emotions and vulnerability without earning criticisms from others. They can connect with their colleagues and team members on a deeper level, too.

These qualities allow them to be more effective leaders that people won’t have difficulty following and relating to.

Keep in mind that being an extremely cold, analytical, and calculating leader can create a gap between you and others, so you won’t be able to lead a productive, successful team.

However, you also have to know the right time or situation to show your emotions and also be someone that others can talk and show their feelings to.

When you are capable of conveying your human side, you will become a leader that everyone follows and respects wholeheartedly.

Having a high EQ can help you become a better leader. As such, work on building your emotional intelligence through coaching, attending leadership programs and similar activities while developing your other skills.


Leila Rezaiguia is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Kompass Consultancy, an innovative global talent management consultancy headquartered in Dubai and with offices in Abu Dhabi and Sydney, that specialises in enabling individuals, organisations and educational institutions to achieve performance excellence and career success. Leila is a multi-lingual (English, Arabic and French) PCC Coach, Mentor Coach, Trainer, Facilitator and Business Mentor who is passionate about coaching, women in leadership, talent management and organisational development.