Developing Emotional Intelligence to Better Lead

Professional studies and research has shown a person cannot grow their IQ. However anyone can develop and raise their emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence is defined as, “the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of a group.” Having emotional intelligence is a key factor to effectively leading. To develop and Lead with Emotional Intelligence then apply these 3 practices into your leadership:

1. Touch the heart- A leader moves people toward a positive future that allows them to see better results when they touch their heart. This is about digging up and learning about their peoples deepest wants, needs, and desires. John Maxwell says, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand” (Click here to Tweet that). True influence starts when you take the time to touch the heart of your people. The foundation of doing this begins with trust and having your people’s best interest in mind.

2. Talk less- Talking less allows you to listen more. It shows others you’re willing to hear their ideas and thoughts. This allows you to better connect and understand your people. If you want see what your leading move forward then hearing your people is essential. A leader needs to be able to hear what someone is saying and understand why they are saying it. Talking less also allows you to “identify” your people’s regular emotional state and feelings.

3. Relate with others- Being able to connect and relate with others allows you to better influence them. When it comes to emotional intelligence, this means knowing and being able to relate with the emotions of others. Emotions are a powerful aspect of human behavior, because they are often the driving force of someone’s actions and attitude.  When a leader can assess then influence a person and their emotions, without manipulating them, it leads to a better outcome.

If you develop your emotional intelligence by applying these practices then you will become a better person and leader. To learn more about emotional intelligence, I recommend Daniel Golman’s books: Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Question: How do you develop your emotional intelligence?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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27 thoughts on “Developing Emotional Intelligence to Better Lead

  1. Dan, It’s simple and cliched, but people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A girl on my team is on maternity leave and was struggling with a couple of insurance and payment issues. She finally texted me. I pushed from my end and her problem was resolved. I didn’t really do a lot, but what she saw was that her boss cared enough to take the time to help her. I “won” some more loyalty from her. I try to do that with everyone and I think that is one reason I am successful in my position.

  2. Empathy and applying that has allowed me to increase my emotional intelligence. I like your point #2 on talking less, it does allow you to listen and pay attention to the facts and how you connect with people. I found myself in conversations thinking about what I was going to say next instead of listening intently to the other person. Great points here.

    • Empathy is important. I relate with you about what you said, I often also find myself doing the same thing. It’s something I’m working on and I’m sure you are as well. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  3. I agree with Larry’s point. Showing people you care is priority one–both when fixing a problem a superior brings to you, or helping with a personal issue a team members confides in you about.

    I am no longer in a leadership role, but my transition to a “weekend warrior” (2 back to back 16 hour shifts) was a smooth one. Thanks to the way I treated everyone, I didn’t feel uncomfortable making the transition. There was no fear of having to work with team members I wasn’t kind to or compassionate with. One of the girls told me that I was the best boss she ever worked for, giving the example where I INSISTED she pump her breast milk every 2-3 hours.

    She recalled that no matter how busy we were, I would call and ask her “Did you pump lately?” I would also insist that she was still entitled to a FULL lunch break, as many people went out to smoke several times a day without losing any lunch time. I didn’t really remember doing that, but it left a strong impression with her.
    It may sound like a bizarre example, but I was passionate about her needs before the teams because of my own past experience. My wife was determined to continue to breast feed after returning to work, but her team did not allow her time to step away when her body was telling her to do so because they were always busy. She was subsequently unable to keep producing milk within 2 weeks of her return.

    • Scott,

      What a great example. It’s actually something my wife had a hard time doing when she went back to work after having our son. Her boss was not as nice as you were. Small acts like that really separate good bosses from great bosses.

      It’s great your transition went smoothly, and wow those must be 2 very long days. I thought my 4-10 hour days are long. At least you get your work week done with quickly.

      Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  4. The third point struck a chord with me. Being able to influence without manipulation, is a trait of a leader that is not often talked about or considered. Some “leaders” believe that they are not leading unless they are manipulating. I believe that a great leader is able to motivate others because of their “positive influence” rather than their ability to manipulate. It’s the same with honor. I show honor because “I” am honorable.

    • Charles,

      I think manipulating holds a person back from reaching their leadership potential. It’s all about leading with positive influence. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I try to develop my emotional intelligence by seeking to sort out the emotions from the actions. How I “feel” can often lead to big mistakes. I try to sift through and set the emotions on the sideline after I use them to inspire and push. Making a decision of leadership works best for me when I measure the decision or direction on moral principles. Not always an easy thing to do.

    • Floyd,

      Great points, a self check is so important to making the right decisions. You nailed it about “measuring the decision or direction on moral principles.” Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  6. What a great conference you attended. I think the topic of human development and leadership are very interesting. Thank you for stopping by to read and share.

    • Definitely! I have taken 3 college psychology classes so far to prepare for medical school, and they are interesting. It definitely helps you relate to people better. That is one of the keys for effective leadership.

  7. Talking less is something am always trying to do :) though that’s not the end – am learning to listen, really hear. Am learning to slow down and hear beyond the words that are being said.
    When it comes to effective communication Dr Gary Smalley says ‘the real message is often the emotion beneath the words”.

    • The first step to growth and change is admitting you need to become better. I think many leaders have a hard time talking less, it’s something that needs to be changed.

  8. Interestingly enough, and amazing enough, I have been applying all three points. I’ve always heard of EI but I never picked up any material to read it. I need to put it in my reading list.

  9. I develop my emotional inteligence by listening more. I try to not runt he conversation and let it flow from the other person. It’s the one of the best ways you can learn about them.

  10. Talking less…I have to work hard at that one. I’ve been blessed to learn a lot from watching some outstanding leaders “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”