Emotional Intelligence – leadership asset for the 21-century

People who let their feelings take control over their behavior will act impulsively and not wisely.  So how to "fine-tune" behavior by acknowledging emotions, respecting someone else feelings and being able to hold control is emotional intelligence.

Ida Protuger



Happiness at work

Violence in the workplace can have different forms, including disrespectful communication and belittling behaviors. It remains a significant source of stress at work.

The power of collective thinking

Leaders hold a crucial role in nurturing collective thinking as a resource. Those appreciating the value of experience and knowledge in each team member foster a safe space for exchanging ideas. They see the synergy from combined resources as valuable input toward better, well-informed, and inclusive decisions.

21 century brought intense changes in our life dynamics. That demands a different type of leadership and management.

Many jobs and roles performed by humans today will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning technology in the near future. But what’s irreplaceable is the human potential, creativity, and our emotions as a driving force. Companies will be challenged to find ways to maximize human potential towards creativity and productivity for the part of the production process where robots will be “out of the game”.

One of the most important leadership assets in that direction will be emotional intelligence and human skills.  “Bossing” will soon become an old-fashioned way of management. Salary is no longer the strongest motivator for many. Employees look for organizations that care for their overall well-being as well as inspiring leaders. Leaders who can incorporate employees’ interests into the company’s goals. Emotional intelligence is a key skill in this process. Emotional intelligence though is not only the ability to empathize. It is a more complex skill.

In short, our emotions are connected with the work of the limbic cortex. Rational thinking is an operation settled in the frontal lobe. Emotional intelligence is the ability to make them work in harmony for the person’s well-being. Or to simplify, If the heart symbolizes emotions and the brain rational thinking, then emotional intelligence is the ability to make the best of both. As Daniel Goleman (The author of “Emotional Intelligence”) wrote, emotions give flavor to our life. However, if they hijack our brain and behavior, they can easily lead us to a disaster. Just look what happened to Will Smith recently. The other possibility is to take control over our emotions and use them as fuel towards our goals and strives.

Self- awareness

Self-awareness is the first and most important step towards that goal. That means being aware of own emotions and the needs behind those feelings. To know oneself and accept oneself in order to understand others.  The second important step is the ability to empathize. To be able to feel how others feel. However, empathy starts with self-empathy. Which again turns us towards an internal exploration.

Self-empathy means to be aware of our emotions and name them. To acknowledge them. For example, if you feel jealousy toward someone, self-awareness and self-empathy don’t mean to rationalize the feeling, conclude that it’s bad to be jealous and try to stop that feeling. It means to acknowledge and explore that emotion. People who suppress emotions or neglect their own feelings will do the same with other people’s feelings.

People who let their feelings take control over their behavior will act impulsively and not wisely.  So how to “fine-tune” behavior by acknowledging emotions, respecting someone else feelings and being able to hold control is emotional intelligence. People who are in touch with their feelings, can acknowledge them and express them in the right manner. They will be able as well to communicate effectively. Towards cooperation and understanding. 

The effects of the emotionally intelligent leadership

In the context of leadership, an emotionally intelligent leader can understand, and respect other people’s needs and interests so he or she can utilize them for the company’s growth. The more self-aware employees are, the more emotionally intelligent leaders the company needs. The ‘great resignation’ trend shows us that people are more and more aware of their own resources and the quality of life they want. The number of people who choose to quit in pursuit of better opportunities showed that they choose growth and well-being over compromise. Well-being in the sense of living a meaningful life.

If managers let employees manage their resources the best, they will take the best of their creativity. By setting clear rules, targets and goals, managers will be able not to focus on micromanagement, but on the outcome. Companies want motivated employees who will deliver their full potential. But people will not give their best if they have a manager who tracks and monitors how much coffee they drank and how long they sat at the desk, but a manager who motivates them to work towards common goals and set their own targets.

When there are agreed targets and objectives, the manager will not be interested in how the employee manages their time and other resources, but in whether he or she delivers what has been agreed upon. And that’s the answer to the question ‘will my employees work effectively from home or find ways to slack because they are not monitored”. Most international companies operate using this type of horizontal organizational structure. By managing goals and targets. There are several such management models but in my opinion, the right mindset is more important than the model. 

Taking decisions

Another important aspect of emotional intelligence is decision-making. One of the most prominent neuroscientists of our time, Antonio Damasio, in his book ‘Descartes’ error’ explains the importance of emotions in the decision-making process. The rational thinking part of the brain needs the emotional memory stored in the limbic part of the brain to make a comprehensive and good decision. Or, as Damasio explained, “emotions and feelings are not a luxury, they are a means of communicating our states of mind to others. But they are also a way of guiding our own judgments and decisions”.

Hence, I think that emotional intelligence as a human skill will make a difference in the competitive advantage of managers. It will differentiate those who can maximize the human potential in their companies and those who will stick to the old-fashioned meaning of being ‘a boss’.