Why Emotional Intelligence is a Key Leadership Skill

Why Emotional Intelligence is a Key Leadership Skill

Emotional Intelligence (EI), often referred to as EQ, has become a buzzword in the realms of both personal development and leadership. The article from Harvard Business Review provides a succinct overview of the 12 competencies of EI, emphasizing the importance of a balanced strength across these competencies for effective leadership. However, to truly appreciate the depth and breadth of EI, it’s essential to delve deeper into each of these competencies and understand their significance in various contexts.

1. Emotional Self-Awareness: This is the cornerstone of EI. It’s the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions. By being self-aware, individuals can navigate their reactions and make decisions that align with their values.

2. Emotional Self-Control: Beyond recognizing emotions, it’s crucial to manage and regulate them. This competency ensures that emotions don’t cloud judgment or lead to impulsive decisions.

3. Adaptability: The world is ever-changing, and adaptability is about embracing change, being flexible in one’s approach, and not being overly wedded to a particular course of action.

4. Achievement Orientation: This is the drive to improve and meet internal standards of excellence. It’s not about external rewards but an intrinsic motivation to do better.

5. Positive Outlook: Maintaining a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity, can lead to better problem-solving and resilience.

6. Empathy: It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In leadership, empathy can lead to better team cohesion and understanding customer needs.

7. Organizational Awareness: This is about understanding the dynamics within an organization, including the power relationships and unspoken norms.

8. Influence: Leaders need to persuade and influence others to achieve common goals. This competency is about effective persuasion techniques.

9. Coaching and Mentoring: Beyond achieving personal success, it’s about helping others grow and achieve their potential.

10. Conflict Management: Conflicts are inevitable, but managing them effectively can lead to better team dynamics and innovative solutions.

11. Teamwork: It’s about working collaboratively and leveraging the strengths of team members.

12. Inspirational Leadership: Inspiring and motivating others to achieve a shared vision.

The Broader Implications of EI

While the article touches upon the importance of these competencies, it’s essential to understand their broader implications. For instance, a leader with high emotional self-awareness will not only understand their emotions but will also be attuned to the emotional undercurrents within their team. This can lead to proactive interventions before minor issues escalate.

Similarly, adaptability is not just about personal flexibility but also about creating agile teams and organizations. In today’s volatile business environment, the ability to pivot and adapt can be a significant competitive advantage.

EI in the Modern Workplace

The modern workplace is characterized by diversity, remote working, and rapid technological changes. In such an environment, EI becomes even more critical. Virtual teams need leaders who can manage conflicts effectively without face-to-face interactions. Similarly, as organizations become more diverse, leaders need to be empathetic and understand the diverse needs and aspirations of their team members.


In conclusion, Emotional Intelligence is not just about being “nice” or “likable.” It’s a comprehensive set of skills that leaders need to navigate the complex challenges of the modern workplace. Whether it’s managing a diverse team, driving organizational change, or inspiring a shared vision, EI is at the core of effective leadership. As the article rightly points out, it’s essential to have a balanced strength across all EI competencies. Leaders should continuously assess and develop their EI competencies to remain effective and relevant in the ever-evolving business landscape.



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