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Leading With Emotional Intelligence

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

By Workplace Peace Institute

Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.

Emotional intelligence (EI) — a phrase coined by two psychologists and academicians, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, and Peter Salovey of Yale University and made popular by Danial Goleman in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ — is one of the most essential skills of effective leadership in a Quantum organization. Emotional intelligence is one of the four essential leadership intelligences.

Too often organizations are headed by visionaries and/or high-performers who rose into leadership positions as a means of rewarding high performance. But being a visionary and a high-performer are not necessarily indicators of effective leadership.

Leadership is bringing others together toward a common goal, which requires the ability to be attuned to our own deep feelings about our career and what changes might be necessary to be truly satisfied with our work as well as the ability to draw the same out in others. This is precisely why emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership.

Whether we want to admit it or not — and let’s face it, most people do not think emotions play a role in the workplace — emotions are behind all decision-making. Research consistently shows that emotions constitute powerful, pervasive, and predictable drivers of decision-making. Emotions direct our attention, enhance our memory, organize human behavior and orientation toward people, and play a critical role in moral and ethical development. To not seek to better understand our emotions and learn to attune ourselves to the emotions of others comes at a great cost to the workplace, including:

  • A decrease in organizational productivity

  • An increase in missed deadlines

  • An increase in mistakes and mishaps

  • A high employee turnover

In short, the bottom line suffers when the individuals at the top of the organization have low levels of emotional intelligence. And, when an organization is plagued with leaders who are not attuned to their own emotions, and therefore are unable to manage them, companies can crash and burn.

Emotional intelligence is comprised of five components — self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman defines these components of EI as follows:

  1. Self-awareness: the ongoing attention to one’s internal states. In this state of self-reflexive awareness, the mind is able to observe, investigate and experience itself.

  2. Self-management: handling emotions in a manner that is appropriate to the situation and one’s specific role in the situation. The goal of self-management is to balance, not suppress, emotions and feelings. As mentioned above, emotions serve a critical role in all aspects of decision-making. The key is to regulate them in the most appropriate and effective manner called for by the situation.

  3. Motivating one’s self: the marshaling of emotions and feelings to enhance achievement in one’s self and others. The degree to which one is motivated by feelings of enthusiasm and pleasure in his or her work affects how well a person is able to propel themself to accomplishment.

  4. Empathy: recognizing emotions and feelings in others, which helps leaders to motivate others, appreciate their contributions (and perhaps the personal and/or professional costs of those contributions) as well as inform how to step in and provide assistance in relevant and meaningful ways when assistance is necessary.

  5. Social skills: the social competencies that make for effectiveness in dealings with others. Social abilities allow one to shape an encounter, to mobilize and inspire others, to thrive in professional and personal relationships, to persuade and influence and to put others at ease.

The chart below demonstrates how emotional intelligence comes to life in both personal and social competencies.

Based on one’s childhood upbringing, one’s innate temperament, and other factors, some people are inherently more emotionally intelligent than others. The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned and the competencies and skills associated with emotional intelligence can be strengthened through use and on-going practice. Professionals who consciously choose to increase their emotional intelligence through training and practice will develop the leadership acumen necessary to be agents of positive change in their work environments and will inspire the same in others.

Workplace Peace Institute Leadership Academy provides leaders with the knowledge of human behavior, communication skills, and conflict resolution competencies to create highly engaged workplaces where dignity is consistently honored. If you are ready to reimagine your workplace, contact Workplace Peace Institute today for a complimentary consultation.


Workplace Peace Institute is an organizational systems design and research firm that brings a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to organizational development. We support small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model.


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