Emotional Intelligence: the best way to lead?

Written by Charlotte - 28 Feb 2018 Category: HR news

I’m sure you’ve heard of IQ, but what about its less discussed counterpart, EQ?

I’m sure you’ve heard of IQ, but what about its less discussed counterpart, EQ? Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the other kind of smart. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities and make decisions. EQ is gaining ground as more and more studies reveal the benefits of establishing an EQ culture within the workplace.

The psychologist Daniel Goleman identifies EQ as having five key components:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to recognise and understand your moods and emotions, and how they affect others

  • Self-regulation: the ability to control impulses and feelings, and to think before acting

  • Internal motivation: being driven to pursue goals for personal reasons, rather than for some reward

  • Empathy: the ability to recognise and understand others’ motives, - essential for building and leading teams successfully

  • Social skills: the ability to manage relationships and build networks.

The advantages of having leaders with strong EQ

These are uncertain times. With Brexit looming and its potential impact on jobs, budgets and changes to HR policy, we need leaders to be adaptable, resilient and make good decisions. We also need leaders that can form positive connections with people. After all, an organisation is only as good as the people that work there; unmotivated, unhappy staff benefit no one.

This is where employing leaders with high EQ can help.  People with a high EQ tend to learn from their mistakes without dwelling on them, making them more successful overall than people with high IQ. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence also show more willingness to fail. This means that they are better at putting themselves out there, take ownership of any errors, and learn from each endeavour.  They tend to be highly empathic and can form strong relationships with colleagues, which encourages respect and helps to create a positive work environment. There are also multiple benefits to be had client side: people would much rather do business with someone they like and can connect with, and who they trust to deliver a service or product.

How to foster EQ in the workplace

In 2012, a manufacturing company partnered with Six Seconds, the emotional intelligence network, to increase the engagement of their employees using their specially designed EQ leadership framework. Engagement increased from 33% to 70%, while performance also increased by 9.4%.

However, there is some debate around whether it's possible to teach EQ. A stronger policy might be to ensure high emotional intelligence is already present in new hires, so they can start leading in an emotionally-driven manner from the get-go. Tailoring the recruitment process to include key tasks and questions that directly measure EQ will allow you to make the right choices when it comes to selecting future leaders for your organisation.

To identify EQ, HR Magazine recommends asking the following interview questions:

  • What are their values?

  • What or who inspires them?

  • Do they build lasting professional friendships?

  • Ask them to explain how they would adapt their team’s performance in the face of sudden organisational change.

  • How do they deal with criticism?

Emotional intelligence is a balance between the rational and emotional brain, an appealing prospect given the likely turbulent times ahead as the UK workforce shifts and settles post-Brexit. For those organisations that had not previously considered prioritising EQ, perhaps a re-evaluation is in order.

Further Reading

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.


CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.