emotional intelligence for leaders

What if I tell you that you can grow your annual income by $29,000 by working on your Emotional Intelligence?

Had I said this prior to the 1990s, you would have mocked me.

Or even wondered- what the heck is Emotional Intelligence mumbo jumbo?

Given the logical beings we are, it is natural for us to question statements.

And statements not backed by facts or science are bound to be ridiculed (or flushed down the drain).

And rightfully so!

Emotional Intelligence Definition: What’s emotional intelligence (EQ)?

The easiest way to define emotional intelligence is that it is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

Those having high emotional intelligence can recognize both their as well as others’ emotions.

Such people are able to adjust their emotions to adapt to different environments.

The term emotional intelligence surfaced in the 1960s.

However, it was only in the 1990s that EQ gained widespread popularity.

This is when Daniel Goleman came out with his best-selling book on Emotional Intelligence.

As per Goleman, Emotional Intelligence is a combination of skills and characteristics that drives performance in leaders.

A person who can perceive, control and evaluate emotions is said to have a high emotional intelligence level.

Emotional Intelligence History: Origin of EQ

Who coined the term emotional intelligence?

The term emotional intelligence was coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in 1990.

However, back in the 1950s, Abraham Maslow had already introduced “Emotional Strength.”

So it might not be wrong to say that it was Maslow who first introduced the concept of emotional intelligence.

This led to Daniel Goleman’s bestseller: Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ.

It is interesting to note that a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch includes the term “emotional intelligence.”

When we think of intelligence, we immediately think of IQ. 


This is where Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner comes into the picture.

In the early 80s, he proposed the theory of multiple intelligences.

Gardner wrote that people do not just have an IQ (intellectual capacity), but possess several kinds of intelligence, falling under two main areas- interpersonal and intrapersonal.

As you might know, interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of others.

And intrapersonal intelligence is about understanding oneself.

It was Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence model that led to the widespread popularity of EQ. 

Goleman published a best-selling book titled “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ” in 1995.

Thereafter, Goleman published several more books that reinforced the term “emotional intelligence.”

In the late 90s, Daniel Goleman wrote an article titled “what makes a leader” for Harvard Business Review (HBR). 

This article became an instant hit, especially with the Fortune 100s.

Goleman’s research involving around 200 global enterprises revealed that effective leaders have a high degree of emotional intelligence. 

The emotional intelligence theory of Goleman went on to suggest that even with much experience and training, a person cannot be a good leader if they do not have a high degree of EQ.

Goleman’s model found a direct relationship between emotional intelligence and quantifiable business results.

Emotional intelligence Domains and Competencies

Emotional Intelligence comprises four components or domains.

The four components or quadrants of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

These four domains of emotional intelligence are further classified into 12 competencies or elements.

For example, emotional self-awareness is a competency under the self-awareness domain.

Likewise, self-management consists of emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and a positive outlook.

Social awareness competency can be broken down into empathy and organizational awareness.

Finally, we have influence, coach & mentor, conflict management, and inspirational leadership under the relationship management domain.

Let’s look into these four key elements of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a person’s ability to understand their strengths and weakness.

In addition, it assesses their ability to recognize their emotions and their effect on them as well as on their team’s performance.

Emotional Intelligence Self-Management

Self Management is about managing your emotions, especially in challenging situations.

A leader who lacks this element of EQ is more reactive and impulsive.

Emotional Intelligence Social-Awareness

This element of emotional intelligence assesses a person’s ability to recognize others’ emotions.

People (and leaders) who have a high degree of social awareness tend to be more empathetic. 

Empathy is a part of being socially aware.

Emotional Intelligence Relationship Management

Relationship management encompasses the ability to influence, coach, and mentor others. In addition, it is about resolving conflict effectively.

Learn about the Science behind Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace

Using emotional intelligence at work can be great both for the employees and the employer.

Let’s look at some examples of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Handling Bad Moods

We all go through bad days every once in a while.

A person with high EQ will demonstrate compassion and understanding towards an upset colleague or subordinate.

Attentive Listening

Often, egos reign supreme in meetings. Everyone wants their word to be the last word. Emotionally intelligent people are great listeners. They encourage others to speak.

Freedom of Expression

Business leaders with high emotional intelligence encourage an open office atmosphere. In other words, employees would have the freedom to express themselves without fear of criticism.


Emotionally intelligent leadership can be seen in businesses that encourage and support flexible working initiatives for a better work-life balance.

Leaders can leverage Emotional Intelligence testing to reduce employee turnover, improve workplace productivity, and boost DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion).

Learn more about Emotional Intelligence Use Cases.

Advantages of Emotional Intelligence

What are the benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace?

Thanks to the advancements in technology, we can now quantify Emotional Intelligence, or the lack of it, at the very least..

Businesses in the US lose up to $300 BILLION each year due to workplace stress.

Do you know that work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly?

Science has established that emotions precede thoughts.

When we are unable to manage our emotions, our cognitive abilities take a hit, thereby impacting our ability to make decisions.

That is why when we are able to understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others, we are able to lead a more successful personal and professional life.

More and more businesses are beginning to understand and embrace the value of organizational culture. 

Queen’s University Centre for Business Venturing analyzed 10-year data of employee engagement surveys and company results and found that organizations with an engaged culture observed  65% greater share-price increase, 26% less employee turnover,  20% less absenteeism, 15% greater employee productivity, and 30% greater customer satisfaction levels.

On average, we spend over 90,000 hours in our life at work. 

That’s approximately 1/3rd of our life!

I am sure you can deduce that emotional intelligence in the workplace can make or break an organization.

One of the emotional intelligence quotes that sit right in this context comes from Daniel Goleman- What really matters for success, character, happiness, and lifelong achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.

Emotional Intelligence affects your performance at work.

It affects both your physical and mental health.

And it certainly affects your relationships!

I am sure, by now, you would have a better grasp of why emotional intelligence is important.

emotional intelligence for leaders

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Why is emotional intelligence important in leadership?

There is a strong relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership.

With EQ, leaders can assess and address the needs of each individual and group they influence. 

Higher Retention

Leaders with emotional intelligence contribute to loyalty and engagement. As a result, such companies see higher retention.

Free Employee Turnover Report

Higher Productivity

While IQ can help predict job success by an average of 6%, Emotional Intelligence is responsible for 27-45% of job success. Leading with emotional intelligence, therefore, boosts team productivity.

Emotional Intelligence can also help predict job success or job performance.

Higher Revenue Margins

Why should managers have emotional intelligence?

A 1996 study showed that senior managers with high EQ outperformed annual earning goals by 20%. And departments with low EQ managers underperformed by the same amount. 

Succession Planning

Quoting Daniel Goleman– “When I compared star performers with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributable to Emotional Intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities.”

Handling Organizational Change

Empathy is crucial to handling organizational change.

During challenging times, it becomes imperative for leaders to lead with empathy.

A lack of empathy in a leader can make it difficult for them to motivate employees.

For these reasons, emotional intelligence for leaders becomes extremely valuable, especially in challenging times.

emotional intelligence for leaders

Emotional Intelligence For HR

What’s the importance of emotional intelligence in human resource management?

While a personality assessments test for hiring (and employee assessment) has a time and place, they fail to measure emotional intelligence.

In other words, such tests fail to assess persistence and insistence (among other factors) in employees or job applicants.

With emotional intelligence testing, businesses can get a better idea of a person’s capability to manage emotions, handles stress, and recognize biases.

eqmatch pre employment testing software

HR managers can use results from an emotional intelligence test to match the applicants (or employees) with tasks.

Hiring emotionally intelligent people can work wonders for a business. 

Emotional intelligence testing solutions are great for measuring the emotional intelligence of both job applicants and employees.

As mentioned earlier, emotional intelligence at the workplace paves way for:

  • Better teamwork
  • Better work environment
  • A higher degree of self-awareness
  • A higher degree of self-control
  • Easier adaptability to change

emotional intelligence for leaders

Emotional Intelligence Training: Developing Emotional Intelligence

Can you learn and develop emotional intelligence?


The right emotional intelligence tests and training programs can help you learn the skills that make emotional intelligence.

Your Emotional Intelligence level is not rigid.

Our childhood experiences and several other factors influence our ability to identify and manage our emotions as well as others’ emotions.

Since human behavior can be changed, improving emotional intelligence is indeed possible.

A good training program or an emotional intelligence coach can teach useful strategies to boost low emotional intelligence.

Research has shown that interpersonal skills (a key element of EQ) can have 50% of improvements in the short term.

The right emotional intelligence development plan can help with stress management.

Studies demonstrate that with the right training, human beings can become more social and compassionate.

And the benefits of building emotional intelligence are not limited to the workplace.

Developing your emotional intelligence can improve happiness levels, and boost physical and mental health.

The benefits of emotional intelligence extend to improving social and marital relationships, and decreasing stress levels.

In fact, a higher level of EQ results in lower levels of cortisol, aka, the stress hormone.

And low emotional intelligence is related to a loss of motivation, loss of productivity, frequent emotional outbursts, and several more issues.

How to improve emotional intelligence in the workplace?

There are a few things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence.

Be a good observer. The next time when you react, observe yourself closely.

Keep a close watch on your responses, biases, and judgments, especially under stressful situations.

Practice empathy and humility.

Evaluate yourself.  

You can also try EQMatch free emotional intelligence test to assess if you have high or low emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Testing: how to test emotional intelligence?

It is important to assess or measure emotional intelligence.

While there are several online emotional intelligence tests, only a handful are scientific and reliable.

Myers Briggs Test Indicator vs EQMatch

With just 12 questions, and taking less than two minutes, EQMatch is one of the best free emotional intelligence quiz out there.

Short Emotional Intelligence quizzes like EQMatch are useful in quickly helping you find your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to the different components or quadrants of emotional intelligence.

Diagnosis Before Prescription

Just as a doctor first diagnoses the issue that’s causing certain symptoms before he prescribes a medicine, before you hop on to learn EQ skills, it is important to assess where you stand.

At EQMatch, we follow a scientific approach to analyzing and improving EQ.

Our powerful, easy-to-use emotional intelligence test for employees and job applicants helps HR leaders improve key KPIs related to human resource management.

Moreover, with our personalized EQ guide, you can take the necessary steps to improve your weaknesses related to emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Resources

Which are the best books on emotional intelligence?

There are some great resources to learn about emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Primal Leadership, and the Emotionally Intelligent Manager by Peter Salovey are a few must read books on emotional intelligence.

And talking about some of the best podcasts on emotional intelligence, you should definitely check out these- Creating Emotional Intelligence (Jeremy Holcombe), Living and Leading with Emotional Intelligence (Brittney-Nichole Connor-Savarda), The Kingsley Grant Show: Where Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) and Leadership Skills Intersect, and Hacking Emotional Intelligence

EQMatch has a library of free webinars on Emotional Intelligence (recorded and live). 

Some of the recent ones include:

  • Employee Turnover Intention and Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • DEI and Emotional Intelligence
  • Job Performance & Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

You can also check out emotional intelligence articles on the EQMatch blog.

Common Questions & Answers Related to Emotional Intelligence

Let’s discuss some of the most common questions pertaining to EQ.

Do emotions affect intelligence?


Studies suggest that a high level of emotional intelligence is inversely related to stress levels.

Does everyone have emotional intelligence?

Generally speaking, yes.

Everyone has the emotional intelligence to some degree.

Some people exhibit high emotional intelligence, while others have a low degree of emotional intelligence.

Does IQ measure emotional intelligence?


IQ measures a person’s ability to solve problems using logic. IQ tests focus on measuring crystallized and fluid intelligence.

EQ, on the other hand, is about recognizing your and others’ emotions. 

Emotional Intelligence tests measure ability intelligence and trait intelligence.

Most EQ tests score the test-taker across self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Why is emotional intelligence a soft skill?

Each soft skill has a set of competencies that are crucial for developing the skill. And a majority of core competencies for soft skills use emotional intelligence.

For example, a positive attitude is a soft skill, which has social/emotional competencies such as focus, flexibility, emotional control, hard work, and guidance response.

When someone learns and develops EQ competencies related to developing a positive attitude, it becomes easier to learn how to develop a positive attitude.


Hope you liked this write-up on emotional intelligence for leaders.

Have you recently encountered someone displaying low EQ or someone exhibiting high EQ?

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