Your Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Effectiveness (Explained)

Benjamin Preston
3 min readJan 30, 2020

Here’s a fun fact: Teams that have leaders with high emotional intelligence tend to perform better overall and have a higher level of employee engagement compared to teams led by low EQ leaders.

What is emotional intelligence, and what comprises it?

The formal definition of emotional intelligence is “The capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

A lot of business is just figuring out how to collaborate with others and how to build and work together. Emotional intelligence offers four pillars that we can use to improve to grow to help us be better at collaborating with others.

The four pillars that comprise emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.


The first major component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness.

Self-awareness is essentially understanding your emotions and articulating them internally. Why am I feeling this way? What’s causing me to feel this way? Is this because of something that I’m doing? Is this something because of what other people are doing?

Once you understand your emotions, you’ll be able to regulate them.

The second pillar of emotional intelligence is self-management. Self-management is really broken down into four subparts: emotional self-control, adaptability, achievement orientation, and positive outlook.

When you’re in a team environment, and you need to collaborate with others, being able to manage your own emotions is crucially important.

Picture this. If you’re sitting in a meeting, and someone says something that you really don’t agree with, unregulated emotions may cause you to flare up. But if you can regulate your own emotions, you tend to be more adaptable. And, the more positive that you feel, you typically have more creativity and more innovation.

So, in general, managing your own emotions first before you start working in a team environment is going to really put you ahead and make sure that you are able to collaborate in a way that’s flexible, that’s emotionally controlled, and professional. You’re going to be able to come up with a lot of great ideas to bring to your team. So, that’s number two.

Social Awareness:
The third pillar of emotional intelligence is social awareness, and that’s broken up into two subparts: empathy and organizational awareness.

First is empathy, your ability to feel how others are feeling. The second part is organizational awareness, so how aware are you of the components and how everything connects within your organization, within a business environment.

Social awareness is really important when you start collaborating with others because this is really the first step that you take into getting into the mind of how other people are operating, which makes it a lot easier for you to work with them.

If someone comes at you with a lot of pressure and a lot of emotion toward one specific project, you might think, “Wow, this person’s coming on really, really strong.” But what you might not know is that person has deadlines of their own, their boss might be pressuring them, and that takes in the empathy piece of it. If you can find out how the organization is set up, then you might be able to better understand your coworker’s point of view.

Relationship Management:
And the fourth pillar of emotional intelligence is relationship management. Relationship management has five subparts: influence coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork, and inspirational leadership.

As you move more into a leadership position, relationship management becomes really important because you’re no longer being judged on your technical ability to complete a job, but you’re being judged on your ability to influence, resolve conflict, coach and mentor your team, inspire your team.

What you’ll find is that as you start moving up and as you start thinking more about being more emotionally intelligent, being more empathetic, understanding your emotions more, you’ll naturally become better at emotional intelligence.

Now that you know these four elements of emotional intelligence, you can start focusing on them and practicing them, and naturally learning more about yourself as you go through this process. Really, that’s the key to emotional intelligence is to be aware of the four components that you can improve. Be aware of what you are good at and then just keep refining and keep practicing.