Emotional intelligence: The foundation of successful leadership

Published Sept. 28, 2021, 11:26 a.m. by Mia Backman

Promoting collaboration, building immovable trust, and by far most importantly, embracing emotional intelligence in leading people and projects, is what makes good business.

Consultants and business leaders are often portrayed as extremely busy, striving to succeed through cutthroatcompetition, living with high stress levels and mostly seeing people as costs and resources.

In reality, consulting can be distilled into an approach to creative problem solving that views people as emotional and even intuitive beings who should be treated accordingly.

There are multiple core qualities linked to leadership that create a mutual goal for a team. These qualities range from mental stability to objectivity, and from foresight to integrity. But the core of impactful leadership is building a foundation for shared success by displaying humanity and treating others with consideration.

When leading a team or meeting clients, emotional intelligence and communication can also be expressed non-verbally. Mirroring the gestures and postures of the person you are communicating with is a sign of trust and co-operation that can signal mutual commitment. This is something that often happens unconsciously.

Engagement drives performance

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships summarises the impact that emotional intelligence has on our work-life as follows:

"By teaching people to tune in to their emotions with intelligence and to expand their circles of caring, we can transform organizations from the inside out and make a positive difference in our world."

Emotional intelligence in the business world is a combination of five basic skills - self-knowledge, self-governing one’s emotions, the ability to motivate, empathy and being skilful at social interactions. 

Individuals who possess these attributes may find that the projects and teams they work in, as well as their successes, feel more personal and meaningful. Other core elements of emotional intelligence are resilience and a sense of reality, which come in especially handy when challenges inevitably arise.

Emotional intelligence helps ensure that people are engaged and connected in the workplace. Engagement in turn drives performance, so it’s important to put people – not job titles or their business acumen – at the centre when leading teams.