Emotional intelligence (EQ) affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. An emotional leader can influence the emotional atmosphere of the whole group. Studies have found that EQ is a required competency for effective leaders. It is the number-one predictor of professional success and personal excellence. Leaders’ EQ affects organizational profitability and performance; they must be able to relate to and understand customers and competitors in order to gain a competitive advantage.

In a Gallup study of two million employees at 700 companies, researchers found that employee turnover and productivity are largely determined by the workers’ supervisors. Engaged teams have less turnover, higher customer ratings, greater profitability, higher productivity, less theft, fewer safety incidents and less absenteeism. Employees who had managers with high EQ were four times less likely to leave than those who had managers with low EQ. When teams become more engaged, work feels very different for employees.

The Four Essential Competencies of Emotional Intelligence

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, the ability to be an emotionally intelligent leader is based on 19 competencies in four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

The core of high EI is self-awareness; if you don’t understand your own motivations and behaviors, it’s nearly impossible to develop an understanding of others. Self-awareness enables leaders to think of actions to improve their organization’s capabilities and encourage peers, other leaders and team members to enhance their assets in order to succeed in obtaining the better results. They are self-confident and have strong executive presence and the ability to control their feelings, moods and emotional impulses.

Leaders with self-awareness:

  • Develop clarity of personal values, purpose and vision
  • Develop and execute a personal strategy
  • Proactively seek new opportunities
  • Demonstrate authenticity through aligned values and vision
  • Take accountability for personal and leadership actions
  • Build off of others’ ideas for the benefit of the decision
  • Manage and overcome complexities

Self-management enables leaders to think before taking action. They react to situations positively. (Think of answering the phone with a smile.) They have a strong desire to attain goals with energy and determination.

Leaders with self-management engage in:

  • Prioritization and time management
  • Emotional self-control
  • Transparency
  • Adaptability
  • Optimism
  • Achievement orientation
  • Initiative

Social awareness enables leaders to sense others’ emotions, understand their perspectives and take active interest in their concerns. They have the organizational awareness to see current and future issues. As leaders, they use their EQ to understand what their employees feel and want. They stay aware of their team’s needs, perspectives, feelings and concerns.

Leaders with social awareness can:

  • Understand and appreciate diversity of perspective and style
  • Demonstrate empathy and understanding
  • Build trust and demonstrate trustworthiness
  • Build collaboration and clearly articulate intention in all communications
  • Motivate and coach employees to high performance
  • Inspire others by articulating and arousing enthusiasm for a shared vision and mission
  • Align the vision with broader organizational strategies and translate the vision into manageable action steps
  • Lead by example

Relationship management involves guiding and motivating with a compelling vision. Emotionally intelligent leaders are influencers, using a range of tactics to persuade, convince or impact others to convince them to support their agenda.

Leaders who are competent in relationship management:

  • Are skilled at persuasion
  • Use complex strategies to build consensus and support
  • Initiate and lead a productive team culture, fostering cooperation and team building
  • Have excellent business acumen
  • Operate with an awareness of marketplace competition and the general landscape of related business arenas
  • Demonstrate and build resilience in the face of change

In today’s workplace, emotional intelligence is an important factor for success; it influences productivity, efficiency and team collaboration. Leaders with emotional intelligence are equipped to handle conflicts and provide resolution to develop a more effective workplace.

High-EQ leaders benefit the organization. They create a motivating, optimistic atmosphere. The positive climate that EQ creates enhances productivity and adaptability. People are comfortable sharing ideas, learning from each other and making collaborative decisions.

Emotionally intelligent leaders tap into people’s feelings to move them in a positive direction. They care for their emotional welfare. High-EQ leaders set the tone for their organizations. They get things done.