A high Emotional Intelligence quotient (EQ) is a common trait of the best leaders but what is Emotional Intelligence exactly and why is it so important in a workplace setting?


An individual with a high EQ has the ability to sense in the emotions of others, quickly guage the ‘emotional temperature’ of a group and to understand and take control of their own feelings in high stress situations. Emotional intelligence can also be described as the ability to understand, perceive and identify the feelings of others. In other words, a person with a high EQ, will often have a well developed sense of empathy for others, and the impact of their own behaviour on others. The phrase “walk in someone else’s shoes” is often associated with using empathy when interacting with others. An individual with emotional intelligence is able to control stress, remain calm and communicate clearly when dealing with others.

An individual with a low level of emotional intelligence is often viewed as someone who’s behaviour changes frequently and who can become visibly frustrated in certain situations. These individuals can often be seen as ‘moody’, volatile  and unapproachable. They often do not make good leaders.


Self- Awareness

Self- awareness and insight can be seen as the main factor of emotional intelligence as it allows an individual to understand their own emotions, motivations and behaviours. An individual who is highly self-aware is able to recognise their feelings and identify the cause of those feelings. This then allows the individual to be aware of how these emotions influence their actions and how those actions may change other’s views of the individual.

Self- Management

Self-management refers to the control of negative emotions such as stress, anger and fear to avoid them negatively impacting the individual’s approachability in the workplace. Controlling or managing emotions does not translate to ignoring or suppressing them, it relates to the individual being aware of emotions and being able to implement strategies to handle the emotions in various situations.

Social Awareness

Social awareness relates to an individual’s understanding of the feelings and emotions of those around them. Being socially aware allows an individual to view circumstances from a different angle and allows them to ‘step into someone else’s shoes’ and relate to the emotions of another regardless of if they agree or not. Possessing this personality trait allows individuals to associate and build relationships with a wide range of individuals.

Relationship Management

Relationship management relates to an individual’s ability to effectively build and maintain relationships with others. In order to be successful in managing relationships, an individual should be competent in communication, inspiring, persuading and encouraging their colleagues in order to maximise motivation and organisation within the workplace.


Emotional intelligence allows individuals to connect with those around them and build positive relationships. Having these skills within a workplace ensures that team leaders or managers are approachable and can successfully lead productive and motivated teams.

It is important for leaders and management staff to understand a range of emotions and how individuals can express these in different ways. By being consistent with this, employees will feel supported, valued and be more willing to engage and be productive. If a leader does not possess at least some factors of emotional intelligence, it is likely their leadership skills will be ineffective and the organisation will be negatively affected.


An organisation can improve emotional intelligence of all management staff by providing training and reinforcement. Individuals can take the following steps to improve their emotional intelligence:

Practice Self-Awareness

It is important for an individual to be aware of their own emotions as it is difficult to understand the emotions of others if you are yet to understand your own.

Utilise Training and Coaching

Training and coaching allows individuals to improve interpersonal skills associated with emotional intelligence. These programs can also assist with improving stress management and leading under pressure.

Actively Request Feedback

By obtaining feedback from peers or colleagues, an individual will be able to understand the effect their emotional intelligence is having on those around them and be able to track their improvement or recognise when changes in their approach need to be made.

Be Willing to Change

An individual should be versatile and be willing to change their behaviours if it becomes known that their approaches are not having the desired effect on those around them. There is usually always room for improvement, and it is important for individuals to understand that everybody reacts differently to certain behaviours.

Step Into Somebody Else’s Shoes

Viewing situations from somebody else’s eyes and showing empathy for that person will improve your emotional intelligence. Each individual you communicate with has a different story to tell, it is important that you think of the situation from their personal situation and empathise with them based on their previous experiences. Try to think ‘if I were them, how would I like this situation to be handled’.

Use Effective Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Approximately 55 per cent of communication is delivered through nonverbal communication such as body language and facial expressions. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these and convey these effectively. It is also important to observe, understand and react appropriately to other people’s nonverbal communication techniques. Verbal communication is also important and should always be clear and confident.

Find out your Emotional Quotient HERE