5 Components of Emotional Intelligence for Leadership




Emotional intelligence has long been been known to be a key component of effective leadership. In 1998, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman wrote one of Harvard Business Review’s most popular and enduring articles entitled, “What Makes A Leader”. In the piece he states:


“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”


The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness can be a powerful tool for leading a team, especially in a fast-paced and constantly evolving tech industry.


Emotional intelligence is an umbrella term which describes the act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others.


Demonstrating emotional intelligence in the workplace is an huge advantage when it comes to building an exceptional team, regardless of the market you work in. One of the most common factors that leads to retention issues is communication deficiencies that create disengagement and doubt.


A leader lacking in emotional intelligence is not able to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead. Leaders who react from their emotions without filtering them can create mistrust amongst their staff and can seriously jeopardise their working relationships. Reacting with erratic emotions can be detrimental to overall culture, attitudes and positive feelings toward the company and the mission. Good leaders must be self-aware and understand how their verbal and nonverbal communication can affect their team.


When examining emotional intelligence from a leadership perspective it can be boiled down to five main components: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, relationship management, and effective communication. To help build an understanding of these emotional intelligence competencies it is worthwhile spending some time determining where you stand on the five elements outlined below.




This can be defined as having the ability to recognise one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and understanding their impact on others. Without reflection we cannot truly understand who we are, why we make certain decisions, what we are good at, and where we fall short. In order to reach your maximum potential, you must be confident in who you are, understanding the good with the bad. Those that have a strong understanding of who they are and what they want to work on, can improve themselves on a regular basis.




This is more commonly known as discipline. It involves controlling or redirecting our disruptive emotions and adapting to change circumstances in order to keep the team moving in a positive direction. Leaders can’t afford to lose their cool. Being calm is contagious, as is panic. When you take on a leadership role you can no longer afford to panic when things get stressful. When you stay calm and positive you can think and communicate more clearly with your team.




Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. Recognising that a team member is struggling in a certain situation typically motivates a desire to help. The more we can relate to others, the better we will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them.


Relationship Management


You can’t make deep connections with others if you’re distracted. Many of us have families, obligations, and a crazy to-do list, but building and maintaining healthy and productive relationships is essential to one’s ability to gain higher emotional intelligence. You must have the ability to communicate effectively and properly manage relationships in order to move a team of people in a desired direction.


Effective communication

Numerous studies highlight the fact that effective communication is less about the words we say and more about tone of voice and body language. Misunderstandings and lack of communication are usually the basis of problems between most people. Failing to communicate effectively in a workplace leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion among employees. Effective communication can eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger workplace relationships. When employees know their role within a company and understand how they benefit the overall direction and vision, there is a sense of value and accomplishment. Good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose.



Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool for exceeding goals, improving critical work relationships, and creating a healthy, productive workplace and organisational culture. Making a conscious effort to examine how you are performing in these five key competencies will go a long way towards helping you become a more effective leader.



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