Why Emotional Intelligence in Leaders is More Important than IQ

In our culture, we often teach our kids to do well in school so they can get into a good college and become the leader they want to be – whether that is in business, politics, medicine or any other industry. The problem scientists are finding is that the success of a leader comes from skills that aren’t taught in college – skills like Emotional Intelligence (EI).

In a study by Daniel Goleman from Rutgers University, he found that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is what sets effective leaders apart from the rest. While IQ is important in leadership, additional studies by Higgs & Dulewicz agreed that “emotional intelligence was more highly related to success than IQ alone”. So what is EI and how does it craft a different kind of leader?

What EI is

Daniel Goleman defines EI as:

  • Knowing and understanding your feelings without having them overwhelm or overtake you
  • Being self-motivated, creative, and maximizing performance
  • Being able to sense other people’s feelings and respond to them appropriately

These are also keys to being a great leader. A leader needs to be able to communicate with people in a highly effective way and EI provides the background and the skills to do so. Some of the other ways that EI helps leaders is by:

  1. Awareness of your feelings and emotional connections to projects, and how those feelings impact your work and decisions
  2. Being more aware of the people around you, their feelings, and how to respond to them appropriately
  3. Understanding what emotional and psychological state your employees are in so you can provide support or resources when needed
  4. Creating better communications by using emotional listening and response skills

In short, EI helps leaders build strong teams. Strong teams run smoothly and profitably. Isn’t that what we all want?

The 4 Components of Emotional Intelligence


Self-awareness includes: understanding how you are feeling, being able to clearly communicate your values and beliefs, and recognizing how others respond to us.


Self-Management has to do with how we control our emotions and how we respond in different situations. This component is about your ability to stay adaptable and optimistic. Self-management includes the characteristics of Motivation, Self-Control and Self-Confidence.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is about how aware you are of the people around you and whether you can ‘feel’ the atmosphere of the people in the room. The ability to empathize is a significant characteristic of Social Awareness.

Relationship Management

Relationship management refers to how you work with and inspire others to act. It takes Social Awareness to understand how to best move projects forward or motivate people. The core characteristic of Relationship Management is Social Competency.

Test your Emotional Intelligence

Which of these components are you strong in? Which could you use more support in? These are important questions if you are a leader. That’s why I’ve developed a self-assessment you can take right now test your EI characteristics or skills. You’ll see what areas you can count on and which might need a little work.

Test your EI here.

If you see some areas that you need some support in or if you have questions, please reach out to me for a conversation.

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