How to Be an Emotionally Intelligent Leader in the Workplace

How to Be an Emotionally Intelligent Leader in the Workplace

Some people are book-smart, some are street-smart, and some are emotionally intelligent. While any business leader would benefit from possessing these qualities, emotional intelligence (EQ) in particular is crucial to establishing a company culture where everybody gets along.

A high EQ business leader is capable of expressing their emotions while remaining in control of them, and has a deft touch when it comes to managing interpersonal relationships. Rutgers University Psychology professor and author Daniel Goleman is credited for establishing the primary traits of EQ we use today: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skill, empathy, and motivation. By mastering each trait of EQ, you can set up your business to thrive in the long term.


It is easy to become overwhelmed when work becomes overly stressful. For example, a passionate disagreement may occur between two or more employees at a job site, just before a critical deadline. An emotionally intelligent leader will understand why their teammates are feeling frustrated. From there, they can determine the best course of action to de-escalate the situation.

As a business leader, you are naturally in a position of power. When you view your co-workers as peers and even friends, it can be easy to forget that your words and actions carry significant weight.

Self-awareness is a crucial, and often overlooked, component of emotional intelligence. You have a slim chance of solving workplace issues if you are completely unaware your own faults – and how they can even exacerbate the situation.


While confidence is a key quality in an effective leader, stubbornness and obliviousness (which are often byproducts of confidence) are not conducive to establishing a healthy workplace culture. Be honest and aware of your own shortcomings instead of trying to hide them from your employees. Ask for input and constructive criticism to make up for whatever shortcomings you might have. Being honest with yourself is no easy feat, and your workforce will respect you and find you more approachable for displaying it.

Social skill

Being an emotionally intelligent leader requires that you be a good student. Recognize situations that provoke strong feelings in the workplace and study them. There is something to be learned from every workplace conflict, no matter how unpleasant or emotionally volatile the conflict may be. You can then apply the lessons you’ve learned to future conflicts or to preventing them in the first place. Remembering your employees’ pet peeves, idiosyncrasies, and work preferences goes a long way in maintaining a stable work environment. It also shows that their complaints and concerns are not falling on deaf ears, as your efforts will prevent future recurrences of whatever irked them in the first place. Utilizing workforce management tools like a team messaging app can foster greater collaboration and openness between you and your team.


Emotionally intelligent people are empathetic, but having empathy for your employees is not to be confused with being hypersensitive or overly lenient every time one of them hits a bump in the road. However, it does mean going out of your way to seek out a mutually beneficial solution to whatever problems they may face you with. Showing that you are a flexible and understanding leader assures your employees that you value them on more than just a professional level, leading to a team that’s more comfortable with, and enthusiastic about working with each other.


Motivation is not all about team-building exercises and promises of eventual promotions or pay raises. As cliche as it might sound, motivation must come from within if you want it to be long-lasting. Creating a positive work culture means establishing an office environment where everyone feels their voice is heard and respected. That means prioritizing everyone equally, with no displays of favoritism.

Segregating yourself from your more junior employees is a surefire way to diminish the company’s culture and reputation. Nobody wants to feel as though their role is unimportant. The easiest way to induce apathy in an employee is to make them feel like they have no control over their role at work, like a cog in a machine. If they are conditioned to believe their input and work is valued on an individual level, their performance will reflect it.

A lot of this sounds like common sense — because it is. If you exercise this common sense regularly, you can cultivate an environment that your employees enjoy coming to everyday. By being an emotionally intelligent leader, your team will look at their work as more than just a nine to five grind.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Bob Drainville

Bob Drainville is the president of Timesheet Mobile, a GPS-enabled time tracking, scheduling and workforce management technology company. Timesheet Mobile’s solutions are used by companies that employ a significant mobile workforce worldwide, in industries as diverse as construction, transportation, healthcare and many others.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me: