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Emotional Intelligence in Leadership - Do Women make Better Leaders?

The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.

A study by Hays Group found that women are more likely to lead by influence, rather than authority, and in doing so, display higher levels of emotional intelligence.

Women tend to naturally lean towards this leadership style as a result of a long history of exclusion from power, restricted access to resource, inherited bureaucracies and patriarchal expectations. However, studies show that this is the most effective method of leadership if you want to get the most out of your team.

Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is increasingly relevant to organisational development and development of people, as its principles are grounded in understanding behaviour, attitudes, interpreting skill and management style. It plays a crucial role in effective HR, planning, profiling, recruitment, customer service, customer relations and much more.

Success requires more than IQ; by being aware and in control of our emotions, as well as developing our knowledge and intelligence we can begin to understand and develop our own EQ, hence we can directly influence our own success, and, in turn, can handle appropriately others EQ also.

Daniel Goleman, in his 1995 book "Emotional Intelligence", identified a 5 stage path to mastering our EQ:

  1. Knowing

  2. Managing

  3. Motivating

  4. Recognising and Understanding

  5. Managing Others

By applying these 5 domains to the four competencies of EQ, we can grow as individuals, become more productive, more focused and more successful, helping others to do the same.

Emotional Intelligence, put simply is:

"The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships."

Daniel Goleman

In other words, its the ability to understand and manage our emotions, and those of the people around you. Those with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they are feeling, why they feel this way and how those emotions will affect other people.

For leaders, having emotional intelligence is crucial for success.

In order to do this, we need to develop and master four key competencies:


  • Emotional Self

  • Accurate Self

Self Management

  • Self Control

  • Initiative and Optimism

Social Awareness

  • Empathy for Others

  • Organisational Awareness

Social Skills

  • Influence

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Conflict Management

  • Collaboration


Ask yourself - do you understand your personality? Are you in control of your feelings? Are you aware of how your feelings affect you? What about how your feelings effect your performance at work?

How about your values? What is it you value the most? Do your values impact on your BAU?

You must also recognise your strengths, whilst being aware of your weaknesses - its OK, you're allowed to have these - even Superman does - you're only human! By acknowledging your weakness, you take control of this, you know when to ask for help or delegate a task; you are now in the driving seat of your productivity.

Feedback can be a useful tool, however knowing how to learn from it is a skill. Accept feedback graciously, review what is said and reflect upon your performance with it in mind, identifying areas for improvement. This is being self-aware.

Remember, first we must know, then we manage, motivate, recognise and acknowledge.

Self Management

Can you keep your cool when under pressure, be that from anger, irritation, even joy? Do you let your feelings dictate your actions? Are you able to take responsibility for your behaviour and your actions? Can you identify your own unproductive personality traits?

It takes great control to manage ones self when experiencing extreme emotion. It is about caring for the yourself, your future, and preparing yourself so you are equipped to do so. .

Self Management is about making a choice to do more than you need to. Its being the Boss of YOU!

Its having initiative - being able to intuitively understand what needs to be done, before you are told; Seeing the bigger picture and being able to determine requirements in advance. Its having drive to achieve; I'ts having resilience and motivation to problem solve before you are ask. It is developing new ways of working, recovering quickly and having a positive outlook on life. These are skills that should be practiced and nurtured.

Remember, first we must know, then we manage, motivate, recognise and acknowledge.

Social Awareness

Can you sense emotion in others? Do you hear, I mean really hear as well as listen? Are you able to tune into the needs and feelings of those around you? More importantly, are you able to respond appropriately?

Social Awareness is the ability to take perspective and empathise with others from different background, culture and ethnicity. Understanding other peoples emotions is central to developing your own EQ. You are required to actively listen and observe, be "in" the moment.

Active listening is really hearing what is being said, not assuming you know what is coming. It is reading the motion in the tone, it is recognising facial expression and body language.

Being socially aware is also being able to read the mood of the room, being perceptive to environmental cues. Are you aware and able to navigate those unspoken rules we, as a society, abide to?

Remember, first we must know, then we manage, motivate, recognise and acknowledge.

Social Skills

Are you able to connect with people, on more that a superficial level? Do you have a genuine interest in other people?

Here we are referring to the ability to handle and influence other peoples emotions. This sounds like manipulation - what i mean is, for example, smiling at someone to encourage a smile back, which encourages feelings of positivity. Its about fine-tuning your response, based upon your reading of the room, of the people you are interacting with and their emotions.

Can you communicate effectively? Can you express yourself, conveying your feelings authentically and appropriately? Emotional intelligence requires effective communication How about your conflict management approach? EQ means being aware of the importance of tact and diplomacy, and how these can be used to help to defuse difficult situations; using emotion-sharing to diffuse a situation and encourage resolution; helping each party to appreciate and consider the other parties feelings; bringing issues out into the open.

Manage, motivate, recognise and acknowledge.

But how exactly does Emotional Intelligence help us to become great leaders?

According to Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence is a key leadership skill.

Emotions are strongly correlated with performance and productivity; those who feel supported, appreciated, trusted will be more productive, will perform better, will work harder.

Positivity breeds positivity.

Like that smile, enthusiasm is contagious.

A great leader will inspire positivity in their team, will be open with communicating, will manage conflict efficiently, will recognise the emotion within the room, will control their own emotions and will be able to influence those of others.

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