What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership?

What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership?

What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership? 1224 806 VP Legacies

The ability to lead an organization effectively involves a myriad of finely-tuned skills. One key aspect of effective leadership is having a high degree of emotional intelligence.

This is what we’ve come to know as emotionally intelligent leadership. Emotionally intelligent leadership can help motivate a workforce through Personal Connection®, keeping them engaged, and reducing turnover.

A leader who is technically excellent at their job is nothing without their employees. A big part of an executive employee’s day is keeping a team performing at their best. This is why emotional intelligence is necessary. At VP Legacies, our eLearning courses help your team and top leadership thrive by developing pathways for Personal Connection®. Here’s our guide to emotionally intelligent leadership.

Related: 9 Reasons Why Your Employees are Your Company’s Most Valuable Assets

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Naturally, an emotionally intelligent leader is one who can understand verbal and nonverbal cues about how a person is feeling. Emotional intelligence can be defined as how well one has a grasp over their own emotions and can recognize emotions in others. These are leaders who are able to factor in both the logical side and emotional side of making decisions.

Emotionally intelligent leaders can apply this same perspective when evaluating the actions and decisions of their team or colleagues. EQ, as it’s commonly abbreviated, is now incredibly important in evaluating leaders and plays an important part in how successful one is in their career. 

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Let’s take a look at the key factors that make up emotional intelligence in leadership:


Self-awareness is one’s ability to know how they feel clearly. It’s a muscle that needs to be strengthened over time, involving deep introspection on how one feels and how one reacts to those feelings. 

An acute idea of the emotions one feels is critical in leadership positions. It helps determine how a leader reacts in certain situations and how much their decision making relies on logic over feelings. 

Self-awareness also translates into having a better understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses and being able to work on the latter. A self-aware leader can form stronger personal connections with employees because they admit that, just like anyone else, they’re not perfect.


If being self-aware means one has a good idea of how they feel, self-regulation means how they regulate their actions with this knowledge. It’s about how much control one has over themselves. 

As a leader, there’s going to be many times where pressure and stress are high, and self-regulation helps prevent impulsive reactions in such moments. Self-regulation is also about making short-term vs. long-term calls when in a leadership position. Shorter term wins that may be more rewarding must be sacrificed for longer-term gains, and the opposite can also hold true in some scenarios. Self-regulation helps leaders make the right call and communicate next steps in an emotionally intuitive way.

All of this means one needs to have a sound idea of their innate values and principles – something self-awareness can help provide. Self-regulation is then being able to control one’s ability to act to stimuli. 

Related: 6 Tips for Having a Tough Conversation With Your Boss


Self-motivation is critical for success and is a key indicator of how well someone does in their career. Self-motivation means one has the ability to set goals, and then work towards achieving those goals independently. 

This can include long-term goals or even the ability to tackle daily tasks. And a natural ability to self-motivate translates into one’s ability to personally connect with others, motivating and inspiring them to ignite their ability to carry out actions. 

Motivation involves a strong degree of EQ, as leaders need to understand what innately motivates their team and how best to communicate in order to inspire them. 


Empathy is all about being able to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. It’s being able to look at scenarios from someone else’s perspective and factor this into how decisions or judgments are made. 

Being empathetic is one of the strongest indicators of a leader with high EQ, as they can quickly ascertain why employees behave the way they do and what needs to change in order to foster engagement. 

You can create employee satisfaction and foster productivity solely from being able to understand what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates them. Empathy doesn’t exist in a silo, though and involves the ability to communicate effectively. 

Strong communication is needed in order to better understand someone else’s situation, and communicate to them effectively on the next steps. 

Related: How internal communication strategies boost employee engagement 


Finally the underlying foundation of a high EQ is the ability to communicate effectively. Smooth internal communication within the workplace is the final touch that brings together self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy.

A leader that can’t communicate effectively won’t get very far with their company’s bottom line. The ability to tailor your thoughts into effective messaging that best resonates with your audience is a valuable one, since it can increase employee retention and also strengthen your company’s goals.

A leader can be empathetic, self-aware, and highly self-regulated – but it won’t mean much if these can’t be communicated to his colleagues. Communication is paramount in ensuring discussions are productive, conflicts can be resolved, and a workforce can remain engaged and motivated.

When we define communication, this involves both the ability to listen well and ask the right questions or make the right statements. 

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

Cultivating Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Emotionally intelligent leadership isn’t cultivated overnight and requires a dedicated amount of effort and training in order to become good at it as a leader. A recent study showed 71% of employers look for high EQ when it comes to hiring leaders, demonstrating that companies are now valuing it as much as IQ. 

By focusing on the above five areas, one can start to develop tactics on how to strengthen each area, and become an emotionally intelligent leader. You can start building an emotionally intelligent workplace with the help of VP Legacies. Our Personal Connection® 101 course and other customized modules shows you ways to infuse your leadership style with empathy and self-knowledge to help motivate your employees.

Learn more about emotional intelligence with Personal Connection® 101.