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Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Why Businesses Need Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Whether you’re an entry-level employee, a manager, or a CEO, your emotional intelligence skills influence the workplace.

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ or EI, is a person’s ability to be self-aware, understand and process their emotions, and use empathy to connect with others. In the professional world where technical skills and IQ have long been admired and sought after, why is emotional intelligence now taking center stage, especially for leaders?

It’s because humans are full of emotions. Since people are the basis for all business, it makes sense successful companies would be knowledgeable about handling emotions in the workplace. 

More and more research supports this. A Forbes article stated workplaces with high EQ employees experience as much as a 400% higher retention rate and 50% more work inspiration. Productivity was 40% higher, and lost-time accidents were lowered by 50%. Emotional intelligence is worth the investment.

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Being a leader means embracing your humanity for the good of yourself and those you lead. Those with strong EQ do this regularly. 

They understand and process their own emotions healthily and share those skills with fellow employees. They take the time to connect with coworkers and help them through work and personal hardships. They value human relationships. By doing these things, emotionally intelligent leaders create a psychologically safe workplace that promotes teamwork, innovation, and empathy.


In fact, high emotional intelligence can make someone a better leader versus a high IQ. In one study, people managers revealed EQ was the most important factor when it came to leading teams through change, giving feedback, spotting talent, and addressing employees’ issues.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are not only great for employees, but they also strengthen customer relations through their ability to accept and incorporate feedback. Because of their self-awareness, they aren’t emotionally reactive. Instead, they can handle unexpected situations and stress, allowing them to make better business decisions.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote: “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.

If you want to be a great leader and help others in your organization improve this skill, then expanding your emotional intelligence is a necessity.

Developing Your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill, not an inherent trait, so it can be learned and improved upon. If you want to boost your emotional intelligence, here are 3 ways to start.

Increase your self-awareness. It is difficult to understand the emotions of others when you don’t understand your own feelings and motivations. When you feel a strong emotion coming on, take the time to ask yourself: Why do I feel this way? How is that influencing my behavior? How can I improve?

If you are struggling to grasp your current emotions, try reflecting on your behavior in past situations. You can do this through meditating, journaling, or asking for feedback.

Another crucial part of EQ is emotional regulation. Everyone gets overwhelmed by their feelings sometimes. However, your emotions shouldn’t control you. Emotional regulation skills allow you to handle and use your feelings healthily. Consider the “catch it, name it, and tame it” approach:

  • Catch it. When you have a strong emotional reaction, take the time to recognize it. Don’t push it away or ignore it. It’s trying to tell you something.

  • Name it. Figure out what you’re feeling. Putting a name to the emotion will help you understand it and find ways to work through it.

  • Tame it. Once you know the emotion, allow yourself to process it. Going on a walk, taking deep breaths, discussing it with someone you trust, or using stress management skills can help control the emotion. Then, discover what it’s trying to tell you and how you can move forward. 

After “taming” your emotions, you’ll be better equipped to address personal or professional situations in a way that supports yourself and others.

You can also develop your social awareness. Work on picking up nonverbal cues and practice active listening. Empathy strengthens relationships and teamwork, and it can’t happen without connection. Read our other article for more on how empathy benefits work environments and how to bolster it.

With social awareness comes the knowledge that everyone won’t always agree or think the same as you. Conflicts are normal, but with EQ, leaders can focus on using differences in opinion and experiences as opportunities to build relationships and find the best solution for the company.

The Heart of an Organization 

Maintaining a business takes hard work. Yes, there are the business plans, the analyses, and the technical skills necessary for the body of the organization, but emotional intelligence is the heart-pumping force throughout. 

Using emotional intelligence shows you care about your fellow employees, customers, yourself, and your company. Keeping the heart healthy keeps the business healthy, and there’s no better time to start than now.



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