The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Emotional Intelligence plays a large role in the performance of leaders and is a strong predictor of personal and professional success. Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman brought the concept of emotional intelligence to the forefront of the business world when he used a combination of business acumen and psychology to argue that EQ matters twice as much as IQ in professional performance. Emotional Intelligence spans a range of competencies that are essential for success in almost any job. Goleman’s work represents a bridge between science and business, integrating knowledge of both brain and business. We will explore the concept of emotional intelligence further as it applies to individuals and organizations.

The Goleman Model of Emotional Intelligence

According to Goleman, individuals with high emotional intelligence are able to recognize and manage emotion in themselves and others. His model of emotional Intelligence includes four major areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills.


People who are self-aware know themselves well. And because they know what their strengths and weaknesses are, they tend to be more authentic and confident. Personal insight allows them to be aware of personal weaknesses and proactively work on those areas. One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is through feedback. The people that prioritize constructive feedback are the emerging leaders of today’s organizations because they are the ones who know themselves and take practical steps toward self-improvement.


Everyone gets frustrated, angry, and stressed from time to time. When that happens, our emotions can get the best of us and we can lash out at others or disengage completely (fight or flight). Individuals who have self-management skills are able to accurately understand and handle stressful situations in the workplace. Leaders, in particular, are constantly placed in difficult situations, and in order to be effective, they have to be able to manage their emotions.The employee that dedicate themselves to self-management are some of the most reliable members of an organizations. These Individuals tend to be goal-oriented, driven and willing do what it takes to succeed regardless of how they feel.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to understand interpersonal connections and cues from others in the organizational environment. It requires the ability to accurately read others and to put yourself in their shoes. For example, in the middle of a dialog with a direct report, a socially aware manager might notice a glazed look or fidgety fingers tapping on a desk. The ability to pick up these subtle interpersonal cues is an important skill of emotional intelligence, and as a result, leaders who are able to understand and relate to their direct reports will be more successful.

Social Skills

The quality of the relationship and ongoing interactions between leaders and subordinates may be the best predictor of success. Leaders who know how to communicate, influence, motivate, deal effectively with conflict, and engender trust are the ones who are most effective. These skills are especially important in a team environment. Leaders who model these skills are teaching team members how to collaborate and work together effectively. Knowing how to connect with others in a respectful and empowering way releases them to do their best work.


The literature on emotional intelligences suggests that each of four main areas presented above is strongly correlated with successful leadership outcomes. Assessment tools that measure emotional intelligence might be a good place to start to help both new and experienced leaders improve their leadership skills and abilities. Taking a proactive approach to developing emotional intelligence and valuing it within the organization can have a tremendous impact on overall performance.

The G360 family of surveys measures both general emotional intelligence competencies as well as specific skills associated with effective leadership. Furthermore, A 360-degree survey can be an excellent source of that feedback because it collects it from multiple people across various functions and roles within an organization. Find out how well you and your team know yourselves with G360 Surveys.