Are you an emotionally intelligent leader?


A simple and practical checklist for someone to evaluate whether they were being Emotionally Intelligent as a leader.

Having just started a large EQ based leadership development programme for one of our banking clients, I was asked for a simple and practical checklist for someone to evaluate whether they were being Emotionally Intelligent as a leader. I remembered an article I had read by Harvey Deutschendorf, the US author of “The Other Kind of Smart” – and a great advocate of the EQI 2.0 tool we use to underpin many of our programmes.

Harvey picked out 5 behavioural characteristics of an emotionally intelligent boss (and it’s hard to disagree with him). So if you want to see whether you are emotionally intelligent as a leader, read on. If you find at the end that you think you are not, then hopefully you will have picked up some useful reminders on how you can be.

1. Be non defensive and open

Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. Be more aware of your own emotions

Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have levelled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. Get better at picking up on the emotional state of others

A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. Be available for those reporting to you

Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. Develop humility – allow others to shine

While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organisation. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organisation.

If you enjoyed this quick reminder and would like to know more about evaluating and developing your emotional intelligence as a leader, we would enjoy hearing from you.

Image courtesy of MastaBaba