5 Elements of Emotional Intelligence Required for Effective Leadership

What is your picture of a great leader? A well-balanced person, who can keep his cool in difficult situation. A person who values the emotion of the people around him. A person who can motivate the people with his excellent communication skills. Someone who the people can trust and find easy to talk to. And someone who not only thinks about his own success, but also the success of his team.

All these qualities expected from a leader are grouped into a term ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Emotional Intelligence (EI) has gained a lot of popularity and become one of the key characteristics that people find in a great leader.

According to Wikipedia, Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

Although the term first appeared in a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch, it gained popularity in the 1995 book by that title, written by the author, psychologist, and science journalist Daniel Goleman.

 “If you want maximal productivity and if you want work that gets the best results, you want the people doing that work to be in the optimal brain state for the work.  You are a person who can evict them from the zone of optimal performance by slothfully handling your own interactions with them. So it’s up to you to take responsibility for your impact on their ability to work at their best”

By Daniel Goleman

As per the model proposed by Goleman, the five key elements of Emotional Intelligence are:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

If you are aspiring to become an effective leader, it is important to analyze these elements and determine where do you stand.


A leader should be self-aware about his emotions, strengths, weakness and values and how these impact others. Your emotions control your behavior and your behavior impact the people around you. It is important to know your weak points and work upon them.

The best way to self-assess yourself is to make notes on your behavior and emotions throughout the day. If you find a certain fluctuation in your behavior or emotions, make a note of it. In this way, you can analyze the pattern of your behavior and emotions. For eg., if a certain kind of situation is causing certain negative emotions, you will be able to identify such situations and work upon controlling your emotions in such situations.

Gradually, self-awareness will help you to control your emotions and react positively in any kind of situation.

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Self-regulation means controlling your emotions, reactions in different situations. Managing the emotions, help to choose our response in a particular situation.

No one would want his leader to show impulsive reactions and loss his calm in difficult situations. Such behavior is contagious and will be transferred to the team also. As a leader, one should practice to keep the disruptive emotions and impulses in control, and give a thought before reacting to any kind of situation.

The best way to practice self-regulation is:

  1. Know your values and practice a behavior and take decisions that are in consistent with your values. Always try to lead while maintaining your integrity.
  2. Be flexible. You should be able to adapt to any kind of changes. Develop an ability to manage any kind of change, be it an organizational change or personal.
  3. Be accountable. Never try to blame others for your mistakes and run away from the consequences. Always admit and own your mistakes and find the resolution to correct them.


Motivation drives people to work towards achieving the goals and have a feeling of satisfaction. Motivation helps to deal with any kind of situation with a positive attitude. It is something that comes from within and completely depends on what you really want in life. If a leader does not feel motivated, or does not believe in the organizational goals, he will never be able to inspire others to work towards those goals.

As a leader, you need to understand how motivated you are and what can motivate you.

  1. Think about your career goals. Is your current job in line with what you wanted to do in life? If you are not feeling happy with your job, find the root cause for it and try to find a solution to it.
  2. Have a positive attitude towards life and work. A positive attitude helps to remain motivated in worst situations with a hope to come to out of it as a winner.
  3. Inspire yourself by reading about great leaders and their achievements.
  4. Always try to recall the good things that have happened during day. Even during the difficult situations, try to find some good or positive thing that must have happened instead of concentrating on the negative ones.


Empathy is the ability to feel other’s emotions. A leader should manage the team or organization successfully. To earn the respect from the people, it is important to show empathy towards them. Always try to step in their shoes and understand how are they feeling in a situation and then communicate accordingly.

You can be more empathetic towards others by following these tips.

  1. Always try to put yourself in other’s situation and then judge their suggestion or thoughts.
  2. While giving your feedback to the team, try restraining the use of harsh words. Let them know about the areas of improvement, instead of criticizing their weak points.
  3. Praise the efforts of the team with some appreciating words.
  4. Always watch out your body language while communicating. Is your body language dis-pleasing others?

Social Skills

Social skills show how you behave with others and handle their emotions effectively. Social skills, also known as interpersonal skills are also an important part of emotional intelligence.

Here are some of the key elements of social skills that a leader should be having or look at improving.

  1. A leader should have a very strong communication skill. Communication skill is a key to all your related skills. Communication skill can be divided in to verbal and non verbal communication. For more details on the Communication skill see the section on Communication Skill.
  2. The art of influencing people with your ideas and thoughts and persuade them to agree on it is called as influencing/persuasion skill. A leader should be able to influence people to agree on his ideas and course of actions.
  3. When people work together, conflicts are bound to rise. A leader is expected to be a Conflict manager and bring the conflicts in open, discuss the issues and resolve them. It requires a lot of tactics and diplomacy to manage the emotions of the people and help them resolve the conflicts.
  4. A leader should also master the change management skills. Change is not an easy job and sometimes can be very stressful. As a good change manger, one should be able to bring the change without affecting the other people. A leader never runs away from the change, but always look for the opportunities of improvement by bringing the required change.
  5. Work relationships are very important to build a healthy working environment. A leader should be build a healthy relationship with the team and encourage the team also to have a healthy relationship with others. It requires a very good networking skills to build a good rapport with people and make trusted contacts.

If you try to analyze the above mentioned 5 components of the emotional intelligence, you will realize that building emotional intelligence is a step by step process. People first need to be self-aware and learn to regulate their emotions effectively. Only then they will be able to apply the social skills and work effectively with others.

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