13 Emotional Intelligence Skills for Effective Leadership
Recently, I led a workshop focused on women in leadership, discussing the crucial emotional intelligence skills needed for successful leadership. The conversation was enlightening, resulting in a valuable list of 13 essential skills for effective leadership. 

I’m excited to share these insights with you, highlighting the important role of emotional intelligence in empowering women leaders.


1. Reading the Room

When you have honed your emotional intelligence, you are capable of correctly interpreting how people perceive your information.

Are they agitated? Are they getting up? Are they puzzled or inspired by your words?


Advanced emotional intelligence allows you to adapt your communication tactfully. 

2. Rationality & Self-Regulation

A common mistake that I see leaders make in their communication is that they regret how they’ve handled the conversation and the communication in the moment. They’ve either been too aggressive and defensive; they’ve been overly emotive. 
They’ve been fat, passive and apologetic and giving in, or they’ve felt like they’ve had to make a decision in the moment rather than giving things some reflective time before making a decision.  

When you’ve enhanced your emotional intelligence skills, you’re able to take an approach that is assertive, communicating what you want. And what you need in a way that’s professional and emotionally intelligent and is the right response for the situation and engaging the right response for the right result.

3. More than just Data

Emotional intelligence takes in more than just the facts, and the figures and the finance and the outcomes. It also involves considering the ethics and values, both personally and for your business, and integrating these into key business decisions as a leader.

4. Self-Awareness

You need to know that emotional intelligence is not all about understanding the emotions of others, but it’s also about understanding your own emotions. 
What may trigger you in certain situations, behaviour, words or circumstances could trigger a response in you, and if you know what your hot buttons are, then you’re able to better prepare for difficult conversations or adapt with courage in the moment.

5. Prepared for Handling Difficult Conversations

As a workplace mediator, this is a common practice I engage in with participants: guiding them to reflect on their feelings regarding situations where people may have crossed the line. 
What assumptions are they making? Difficult conversations don’t just need to be about conflict.  
Whether it involves addressing someone’s behavior, negotiating a salary, or navigating tense or risky situations, when you’ve developed your emotional intelligence, you’re able to be more grounded and more prepared as you go into those conversations.
Teams are more productive when led by leaders with high emotional intelligence

6. Influence Others

Now, quite often what we’re seeing is only the surface, but if we can better understand how people are feeling and why they’re responding in certain ways, then we’re able to be more influential in the conversation. 
People could say one thing, but actually it’s triggered from a position of stress. 
Uncertainty can be a whole range of things going on, with emotional intelligence, we can understand that person in that environment and situation can adapt accordingly to influence them. It could be around their performance or in stakeholder negotiations. It’s useful to understand where people are coming from.

7. Thinking Deeper

One of the best things that a leader can do is have a practice of mindfulness. 
Now mindfulness is about looking at things from different perspectives, considering alternatives. Walking in another man’s shoes, considering that things might need to change, or looking at the variables that are influenced the situation. 
Emotional intelligence supports us to be more mindful thinkers and make decisions that are far more strategic.
Emotional Intelligence Vincent Van Gogh

8. Taking Criticism and Feedback

I know there’s nothing worse than being criticised when you’ve made a mistake you haven’t operated well. 
Things haven’t gone to plan, or you’ve let someone down and we can get really defensive or apologetic and it can hurt sometimes. 
Once you sit with the grief, you identify what you’re feeling and name that response, we can then able to be reflective with emotional intelligence. This is really important for a leader because it is only through mistakes that you are inevitably going to have that you can actually learn and grow. 
Emotional intelligence is vital for that growth component.

9. Managing Conflict

When you’re in the conflict or mediating conflicts for others, it’s crucial to understand the assumptions people may have about you, the situation, or the conversation. Recognizing potential triggers for their responses is key. 
Once again, where have people crossed the line? Where have people had to compromise?  
Sometimes we can go into conflict conversations, assuming what people are thinking about us or what people thought about a situation. 
If we can look at things from a different perspective and apply that mindfulness, we may consider that there is an alternative. Instead of approaching it from a position of combativeness, we can approach it with curiosity.
13 emotional Intelligence Skills for Leaders

10. Managing Others’ Emotions

Once again, if we know how others are feeling, then we’re able to manage their emotions. 
Are they fearful? Are they lacking in confidence? Are they stressed? Are they overprotective? 
Knowing that there’s likely to be a certain response or that it’s typical of their behavior allows you to modify your own behavior to support them. This, in turn, helps manage their emotions. Perhaps calming them down or firing them up depended on what’s needed in this situation.

11. Know How to Approach Different People

You possess the ability to understand people’s different styles of communication and behaviour.  

My favorite is the DISC model, I am accredited in the extended DISC and love being able to see the different approaches that people will take in different situations. But you don’t need to do that to improve your emotional intelligence.

You can reflect on different ways that people like to. 
The Language of Emotional Intelligence

12. Being Authentic

Communicate your behaviour in specific situations that may require stretching beyond your comfort zone, facing challenges, or being different from you. How can you remain truthful, authentic, and vulnerable in these instances? 

These components are essential for a leader when you’re emotionally aware you’re able to be true to your own feeling. The best thing that a leader can do is be honest about their own mistakes and their own weaknesses. 
Being transparent around that builds trust and rapport with the people you need to lead.  
Vulnerability can actually be quite a powerful trait for a leader. Being aware of your own emotions can enhance your authenticity, promoting an environment of truthfulness and vulnerability.

Being consistent in your responses

12. Being Consistent

If you manage to practice self-regulation, reflection, and mindfulness, then you will achieve consistency. 
For your team to feel psychologically safe, they understand how you will react to various situations. You can create consistency which makes them feel safe to be able to present to you the challenges, express concerns, safely engage in debates or admit their own mistakes. 
Being consistent in your responses is key to be an effective leader, and you can only do that with enhanced emotional intelligence skills.

So, there you have it, 13 vital emotional intelligence skills that could prove beneficial in your journey towards effective leadership.

But I’m curious to hear from you about what emotional intelligence skills you think are essential for effective leadership.

Additionally, if you’re interested in more tips and tools to improve your resilience and productivity, you can take our Resilient Leader Scorecard.

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About the Author

Barbara Clifford - The Hinwood Institute
Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a co-founder of The Hinwood Institute. She is the lead trainer and coach in Time Management. She is a recognized leader in Stress Management. An experienced coach, speaker, columnist and facilitator, Barbara’s work with The Hinwood Institute assists people to unclutter mess, make order from chaos, and swap the shackles of overwhelming for freedom. Barbara’s clients move from the relentless hamster wheel to waking inspired, motivated, making decisions with purpose and achieving peak performance. She lives in the desert of Alice Springs, Australia working with people around the country.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships