Effective use of emotional intelligence in Leadership

IBS mba graduatesToday, effective use of emotional intelligence has become a necessary part of leadership excellence. The use of emotional intelligence in an effective manner can help the leaders at the highest levels of organizations in developing a competitive edge. They are able to lead the evermore difficult roles as leaders which only a few people can do and that is possible with the power of emotional intelligence.

A brief history of the evolution of the concept “Emotional Intelligence”

The term “Emotional Intelligence” was launched in the year 1990 when Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined this term. They described it as “Emotional Intelligence is a form of social intelligence which involves monitoring one’s own and other’s emotions and feelings thus making discrimination and finally using this discrimination in guiding one’s thought process and action. A valuable research program was also initiated by Salovey and Mayer to explore the importance and significance of emotional intelligence along with developing valid measures for E.I.

In the year 1995 Daniel Goleman released his bestseller book named “Emotional Intelligence” and this book became a landmark for spreading the popularity of the concept and the term “Emotional Intelligence”. With the rise of this concept, the importance of getting success in life as well as work was recognized. Organizations started recognizing how their leaders and managers need to grow their understanding of themselves and others.

Need for emotional intelligence in Leadership

The classical models of leadership do not involve the use of emotional intelligence in leadership and are usually associated with the great figures in history with a military style leadership. It presents a charismatic as well as ruling type of images of the leaders. Even today people use the same language for leadership which is a tough, bold and brave image with a strong urge to resolve a purpose. But the actual leadership needs today are different because of the following reasons-

  • The workforce today does not like the autocratic leadership style adopted by the leaders who followed classical models.
  • Leadership needs to match today’s growing sense of democracy and the freedom of workforce.
  • The employees today have more and more options to change the organizations because of the growing competitive environment.

For leaders to be successful in leading, emotional intelligence is essential. Well, you can easily judge who will succeed – A leader who often shouts at his team under stress or the leader who is always in control, calmly handling the situations?

Five main elements of Leadership

Daniel Goleman describes five main characteristics of emotionally intelligent people which are described below:

  • Self awareness
  • Self Regulation
  • Self Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

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Let us look at all these elements in more detail and understand how to grow as a leader using them.

Self Awareness:

Self awareness means that you know well about your feelings and you well understand how your actions can affect the people around you. Being self aware when you are in leadership role signifies that you have a clear idea of your strength and weaknesses and you always behave with humility.

How can you improve your self-awareness?

Self awareness can be improved by keeping notes of your thoughts and feelings and writing them down on a paper. This will take just a few minutes and with the help of it you can move to a higher degree of self awareness.

Self awareness can be improved by choosing how you react on situations. Whenever you face anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why? Remember whatever the situation is, you can choose how to react on it.

Self Regulation:

Self regulation is important in the field of emotional intelligence and leaders who regulate them effectively rarely attack others verbally. They do not make rushed emotional decisions or compromise values or stereotype people. Self regulation is all about staying in control and not doing anything emotionally.

How can you improve self regulation in yourself?

  • Understand your values. If you really know what you can compromise or what not and what is important to you, then it will not be hard for you to make moral or ethical decisions. You will always make the right choice.
  • Do not blame others and make commitment to admit your mistakes and face the consequences.
  • Be calm and practice it. In challenging situations it is always desired by the leaders to be Do not shout on others to relieve the stress. Do deep breathing to make you calm. Write down all negative things on a piece of paper and throw it away. These all help you to challenge your reactions to ensure they are fair.

Self Motivation:

Self motivated leaders are highly motivated towards their goals and they set really high standards for the quality of their work. Improving self motivation can be achieved by the following things:

  • As a leader think what is your purpose of doing the job- Take some time to understand or remember what you loved in this job and what you want from this job. If you are unhappy in your role and you are struggling to find the purpose then try to understand the problem. Reaching the root of the problem can help to solve it positively.
  • Know how motivated you are. Assess yourself to know how motivated you are to lead. If you are less motivated then find resources which will help you in getting more and more motivated.
  • Be optimistic as the motivated leaders are always motivated. It does not matter what the problems they face.


Leaders should have empathy to manage a team or organization successfully. The leaders who have empathy and compassion are able to put themselves in someone else’s situation and work accordingly. They help others grow, stop those who are unfair and provide right feedback for those who need it.

Ways to improve empathy in yourself:

  • Take the time to look at situations from other point of view also. Look with other people’s perspectives also. It is ok to support your own point of view but think from other point also.
  • Show a positive body language. When you listen to others, be attentive to your body language. Do not cross your arms or bite lip which shows a negative body language. Learn a positive body language and show it to your employees when you listen them.
  • Respond to the feelings of your employees. If you find any employee working late, then tell him that you also do not like it and you are also frustrated with that. Provide compensation with paid time offs to the employee who is working extra hours.

Social skills:

Leaders who are good in this element of Emotional Intelligence have excellent communication skills. They are really good in gaining the support of their team with the help of social skills and communications and always encourage their team to do well in new projects and assignments. Leaders with good social skills are always best at resolving conflicts and change management.

How to improve social skills in yourself?

  • Learn how to resolve the conflicts well. If you want to succeed well as a leader then it is really important to resolve the conflicts between team members, customers and vendors.
  • It is really needed to have good communications skills to succeed in the art of social skills as a leader. You have to be a great speaker as well as a good listener.
  • Praise others- Without the art of praising others it is really difficult to succeed as a leader. Learning how to praise others is an art but gives good returns in your favor and also helps in gaining the loyalty of your members.

Thus it is clear that the ability to tune yourself with your emotions and having a good situational awareness are the powerful tools for a successful leadership. If you are leading a team and want to use the art of emotional intelligence successfully in Leadership then give some time to improve the 5 elements of emotional intelligence explained in this article. This will surely help you to excel in the future!

Contributed by Ashish Singh Parihar ( Class of 2008, IBS PUNE )

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