Lead with Emotional Intelligence: 5 Principles Modern-Day Leaders Live By


Your educational background, technical skills, and industry know-how are critical factors when it comes to getting that job promotion you’ve always wanted. But do you think these are enough to guarantee that you’ll be able to take the next step up your career ladder?

If you’re aiming to get a leadership role in an organisation, you need to think about the emotional element, too. You see, emotional intelligence is what helps great leaders collaborate with others, deliver feedback, manage stress, and coach team members successfully.

Also known as EQ, emotional intelligence is what sets high performers apart from others with similar knowledge levels and skill sets, according to Harvard Business Review. This is the primary reason why leadership and management development coaching puts so much weight on this element.

Here, you will learn the basics of emotional intelligence and the five principles modern-day leaders live by to be considered of high EQ.

Emotional Intelligence: A Briefer

Emotional intelligence translates to your ability to identify and manage your own emotions. It is also about how good you are at distinguishing and influencing the emotions of others around you.

Coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990, emotional intelligence became popular when psychologist Daniel Goleman emphasised its importance in leadership.

Goleman explained that all the world’s best leaders have one thing in common: a high level of emotional intelligence. He explained that while skills and IQ are also important, these are just “entry-level requirements” for executive level positions.

Over the years, emotional intelligence became more in-demand for leaders. In fact, a TalentSmart research dubbed EQ as the “strongest performance predictor.” Hiring managers took this as a signal to put more value on EQ, reporting to CareerBuilder in a survey that emotionally intelligent employees tend to resolve conflicts more effectively, remain calm under pressure, and deal with other people in the workplace with empathy.

5 Principles that Define Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Leading with one’s emotions may sound like women-only territory, but the truth is, many male leaders also practice it. Leaders and emotional intelligence are linked by the fact that one’s feelings play a critical role in a person’s success, after all, and success knows no gender.

How you choose to manage your emotions affects all kinds of relationships, be they personal or professional.

On top of that, emotional intelligence helps you achieve more things than mere hard work ever could, so you must hone it in a way that supports your knowledge and skills in the workplace.

Plus, leaders cannot afford to lose their calm during high-pressure moments. Remember that panic and calmness are both contagious, and as a leader, it is your job to keep it together for the good of the organisation you’re leading.

To achieve this, you must keep the following five principles in mind:

  1. Self-Awareness

If there’s a core principle of emotional intelligence, it’s self-awareness.

As the name suggests, this describes the ability to know and understand one’s self. It covers not just the strengths and weaknesses of a person but also his emotions and how they affect him and the rest of the team’s performance.

When you’re self-aware, you can bring out the best in yourself. It will also lend you the ability to lift up others and help them become better versions of themselves.

But the thing is, of all the people (95 percent) who think they practice this principle, only 10 to 15 percent actually do. Organisation psychologist and researcher Tasha Eurich believes that this can cause issues for the team later, cut its success rate in half, and lead to demotivation and increased stress among its members.

To assess your own self-awareness, you can complete a 360-degree feedback that evaluates your performance and compares it to the opinions gathered from your peers, direct reports, and bosses. This will help you gain insights about your own behaviour and learn how people perceive you within the organisation you work in.

  1. Self-Regulation

Besides enabling you to know yourself, emotional intelligence also focuses on self-regulation. This will help you avoid stereotyping, making rushed decisions, verbally attacking other people, or compromising your values. In short, you get to stay in control.

To self-regulate, you must:

  • Understand your own values and identify areas where you cannot compromise
  • Hold yourself accountable and admit your mistakes
  • Keep calm
  1. Empathy and Social Awareness

Aside from principles that focus on you, emotional intelligence is also fueled by social awareness and empathy.

Social awareness describes the ability to “read” what’s happening in the room through verbal and non-verbal signals. It allows you to recognise other people’s emotions and how these affect your organisation.

And with social awareness comes empathy, which revolves around understanding other people’s perspectives and emotions or “wearing other people’s shoes.”

Empathy lets you communicate better, which leads to better collaboration and, ultimately, success in the company. It also results in compassion and fuels the desire to help. Because you relate to other people, you get a better understanding of their motivations.

  1. Open and Effective Communication

Lack of communication and misunderstandings are two of the primary reasons why problems within an organisation exist. Failure to communicate clearly and effectively leaves people bitter, frustrated, and confused.

Because of this, open and effective communication are considered vital principles in leadership guided by emotional intelligence. Combined with social awareness, empathy, and self-awareness, this allows you to convey messages that won’t be misunderstood.

With effective communication, you begin to manage relationships better (more on this later), leading to stronger collaborative power.

  1. Relationship Management

Being a leader of an organisation is only one role you need to play. If you’re like many others, you’re probably juggling work with keeping your personal relationships healthy.

Family is important, but it’s not an excuse to let yourself get distracted from your responsibilities as a leader. In fact, it should serve as your inspiration to become more productive.

This is where relationship management – another principle of emotional intelligence – comes in.

Relationship management is defined as your ability to coach, influence, and mentor other people. It also entails resolving conflict effectively through correct and empathetic communication.

There are people who prefer to avoid conflict, but leaving certain things unsaid isn’t really the best way to manage relationships. Instead, don’t shy away from those difficult conversations.

If you want to maintain a healthy work environment, you must address issues as they arise. This will prevent unproductive activities within your team and keep the company morale up.

Lead with Emotional Intelligence

EQ, also known as emotional intelligence, has become a driving force in the world of executives. Today, your skills and expertise won’t push you up the ladder if your emotional intelligence is low. Practise all the principles listed in this article to get a head start.


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.

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