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10 Effective Ways Leaders Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

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To lead a business is to lead its people. This means that not only do leaders need to be educated in business operations but how their people work as well—what motivates them, how they solve problems and how they get along with those around them. Developing high emotional intelligence (EQ) can help leaders better understand themselves and their teams, allowing them to build better relationships through empathy and trust.

Improving one’s emotional intelligence requires intention, however. Below, 10 leaders from Forbes Business Council discuss some of the most effective ways to improve your EQ as a leader and manager, as well as the impact doing so has on your ability to lead well.

1. Make Your Teammates Smile

Find a way to make your teammates smile as often as possible. Doing so puts folks at ease and fosters engagement, which is intel. Leaders make decisions, so the better the intel, hopefully, the better the decision. – S.P. Wije Wijegoonaratna, Aliya Financial Technologies.

2. Learn To Self-Manage Your Stress

You need to find a way to manage and overcome stress in the moment. Learning to self-manage and be socially aware can assist you in receiving stressful information and not allowing it to overwhelm you. It also makes it easier for people to follow your lead. Once your employees see that your actions are thoughtful and not an extreme reaction, they will follow without hesitation. – Jeremiah Runyon, Superior Logistics Ohio

3. Work Together On An Empathy Catalyst

Have your team work together on an empathy catalyst to understand and reconcile the points of view in and outside of the room regarding a specific challenge that you are facing. The individual report-back process alone will open the door to better EQ understanding. This is not a tool learned in isolation. – Ken Tencer, Say Hi to the Future.

4. Take A ‘Reflective Pause’

Elevating emotional intelligence in leadership is about “reflective pause”—turning reactive responses into insightful actions, and fostering emotional agility to navigate and connect through emotions. Incorporate narrative empathy, using stories to bridge diverse perspectives. High EQ transforms leadership into a process of co-creating meaningful journeys, sparking innovation and resilience. Dino Karic, FLOK

5. Consider Situations From A Third-Person Perspective

Improving emotional intelligence as a leader involves self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills and continuous learning. Viewing situations from a third-person perspective fosters objectivity and understanding. Effective leaders with good emotional intelligence can build strong relationships, handle conflicts better and foster a culture of trust. – Zhonghao Chen, T&J Brothers Group LLC

6. Improve Your Spiritual Intelligence As Well

Emotional intelligence is a key leadership trait that makes you “out of the ordinary.” Spiritual intelligence and EQ are interlinked and strengthen each other. Spirituality helps you develop interpersonal and intrapersonal capabilities, which are components of EQ to be aware and in control of. Similarly, EQ helps you understand yourself and other emotions that lead to spiritual qualities like humility, forgiveness and gratitude. – Sunny Nandwani, Acuver Consulting Private Limited

7. Prioritize Your And Your Team’s Wellness

Prioritize your well-being with exercise, sleep and gratitude. Use the sandwich method for feedback. Believe in your team and provide insightful compliments. Recommend the book Therapeutic Communication by Paul Wachtel. Look into Dharma as a spiritual concept, which can help you separate your duty to work from strong emotions based on outcomes. Consider therapy to better control your mind. – Amareen Dhaliwal, CCRPS – Clinical Research Training

8. Develop Brutal Self-Awareness

Your EQ ignites devoted teams and is critical to creating “followership.” Start with brutal self-awareness by seeking honest feedback to better “see yourself” as others do. Don’t ask, “Am I a good listener?” Instead, ask, “How can I practice deeper empathy?” Actively listen, process and then respond. Treat others as you wish to be treated—the Golden Rule. Inspire and build followers; don’t just manage them. – Mark Templeton, Workspot

9. Create Inclusive Environments

Enhancing emotional intelligence as a leader involves boosting self-awareness, management, social awareness and relationship skills—key to listening and adapting. High-EQ leaders create inclusive environments, improving team dynamics and motivation, vital for navigating and succeeding in ever-evolving workplaces. – John Cerulli, Acumentrics, Inc.

10. Recognize Emotional Intelligence In Others

Emotional intelligence is everything when it comes to leadership. Whether they be to buy a product or service or to work overtime on a project, all decisions are conducted at the core, emotional level. As business leaders, it’s imperative we hone our ability to recognize and harness emotional intelligence if we want to excel and set ourselves apart in the marketplace. – Mo Rafi, Rafi Credit Consulting