Leading with Emotional Intelligence

The new year is upon us – many people are setting new years’ resolutions and goals; whether that be health, fitness, work, family, travel, community, etc. We are big advocates of setting goals, making them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound), writing them down, tracking progress, and re-visiting them regularly to make sure they are still relevant.

That being said – possibly more important than setting goals, is assessing the kind of leader (and person) we want to be for the year to come. We are all humans, and all falter at times, but emotional intelligence can help us take more control of the impact our emotions have on us and others.


Daniel Goleman’s writings on emotional intelligence form the basis of our thinking about how our emotions shape our relationships and self-concept. According to Goleman, “The ability to manage yourself to have self-awareness and self-regulation — is the very basis of managing others.” When we are able to manage our responses to emotions, we can take control of how we influence others.


IQ and technical expertise are no longer sufficient to move up in an organization and be a successful leader of people and teams. In a world where employees can more readily choose their employer, being a high EQ leader improves the chance that you will be able to retain your top performers. People do leave managers, not companies, and EQ is critical to being a manager that develops and retains talent.

With insufficient EQ, leaders lack the ability to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead, and risk continuously reacting from their emotions without filtering them. This creates mistrust and a lack of candor and seriously jeopardizes team relationships.

Good leaders must be self-aware – be able to identify their own emotions and to modify their behaviors to express emotion in a calm and responsible fashion.

In order to gain self-awareness around your emotional intelligence, think back on the past year in times when you have been presented with stress-induced situations.

  • How have you handled those?
  • How do you know when you ARE under stress?
  • How does stress physically manifest itself in you?
  • Are the decisions you make under pressure the same as decisions you would make under calmer conditions?

If you know the answers to these fundamental questions, you can leverage that knowledge to take stock of a situation. You can then respond appropriately, rather than reacting to circumstances as if you have no control or influence.


Noticing and naming your emotions and mitigating your emotional responses are key indicators of emotional intelligence. Leaders who can identify their emotional experience and begin to manage that response are already on the path to better leadership. With self-reflection, time, and practice, those skills can set any leader on the road to Fearless Leadership.

Interested in learning more about how we help leaders master their emotional intelligence? Contact us for more information.