You can combine the five components of emotional intelligence and leadership to become a more effective manager. But what is high emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ), and how can women leaders understand their EQ levels?

EQ is the human ability to recognize, understand, exploit, and manage one’s emotions in positive ways. Leaders with high EQs are less stressed, better communicators, more empathetic, and more easily overcome challenges. Moreover, they know precisely how their mental state influences the emotional reactions of those around them.

The effectiveness of emotional intelligence in leadership is no small thing, it is a primary concern in climbing the corporate ladder as technical skills only go so far. The actual difference between a good leader and a brilliant one is the emotional element. This article looks at the five core components of emotional intelligence for professional growth.

5 Components of EQ that Boost Leadership Skills

The American psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman first coined the term emotional intelligence. He wrote for the New York Times for over 12 years, reporting on the complexity of the human brain and behavioral sciences [1].

Goleman’s EQ theory comprises five core components: empathy, effective communication or social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. 

It doesn’t take much to familiarize yourself with the skills that make up EQ. However, knowledge alone is of little use until you apply it to your life. What sets great leaders apart is their ability to understand and manage their emotions and actions through the lens of EQ. That’s how you become a better, more compassionate, and inspirational leader.

EWF International provides a comprehensive leadership development ecosystem to equip and empower female leaders. Our corporate programming holds workshops on proven, actionable leadership development to improve EQ skills and build trust.Learn more about EWF leadership development here

#1 Empathy (I Sense Your Pain)

Emotionally intelligent leaders can walk in another person’s shoes. Knowing what someone is going through helps to understand them better. It’s why empathy is a key component of successful leadership. Understanding managers are approachable, and they listen. The upshot of that is engaged teams and harmonious workplace cultures.

EQ Strength or Weakness?

Contrary to old beliefs, empathy shows strength, not weakness. It’s a skill and a trait that helps leaders bond with their teams through compassion and understanding. Relating to others at the human level brings about mutual respect, making it easier to solve workplace issues or disagreements in a calm and constructive manner.

Empathic Leadership Works
A study by the global nonprofit Catalyst found that companies that cultivated empathic leadership found it an effective strategy for responding to workplace crises and managing teams[2].

7 Empathy-Building Strategies

  1. Start listening to others more without interrupting
  2. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially during a disagreement
  3. Recognize and show your appreciation for your team members
  4. Be open to sharing your feelings where appropriate
  5. Volunteer for a role in a worthy cause, e.g., a community project
  6. Practice loving-kindness meditation or mindfulness
  7. Work on your body language and reading that of others

#2 Effective Communication (Social Skills)

Comfortable interaction is another core component of EQ. Leaders with good social skills are very approachable, easy to talk to, and therefore strong team players. Effective communication is important for leaders as it helps build meaningful, mutually respectful relationships.Here are six more advantages of workplace social skills:

  1. Sociable managers carry more persuasive influence
  2. Cultivates an awareness of yourself and your team members
  3. Adept at both conflict and relationship management
  4. Enhanced social awareness
  5. Better leadership and mentorship for helping develop rising talent
  6. Expert at collaboration and cooperation
EQ Triumphs IQ Reports Study of Ph.Ds
Emotional and social skills are 4X more significant than intelligence quotient(IQ) when looking at success and prestige in professional settings[3].

Some leaders are born with effective social skills but don’t worry if you struggle. Any human characteristic labeled a skill means it is learnable. It doesn’t take long, providing you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone and address the insecurities that can hold you back.

7 EQ Strategies that Improve Social Skills

  1. Show interest in other people
  2. Enhance verbal and non-verbal(body language) communication skills
  3. Observe and learn from the social skills of others
  4. Practice confident eye contact
  5. Ask open-ended questions(cannot be answered with a yes/no)
  6. Develop a repertoire of icebreaker questions to start conversations
  7. Listen more and practice active listening
Leadership Nonverbal Behavior
Studies show that 55% of the speech effect results from body language, 38% from the voice, and only 7% from the actual content[4].

#3 Self-Awareness

To be self-aware means you have a thorough recognition of your personal strengths and weaknesses. You know when to step back and question your emotional state and thoughts before acting. This critical component of EQ helps you quickly understand why you feel a particular way and how it affects the people around you.

The more you practice this essential leadership skill, the more natural it becomes. Having the power to influence outcomes boosts confidence, makes you a better decision-maker and improves how you relate with your team(s).

7 EQ Strategies to Develop Self-Awareness

  1. Be mindful of your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, and emotions
  2. Identify your triggers to help manage your own emotions
  3. Keep a journal so you can reflect and learn from your experiences
  4. Consider how your actions affect those around you
  5. Use positive self-talk
  6. Develop a growth mindset
  7. Take psychometric tests, the EWF Emerging Leaders program uses Lumina Learning’s Lumina Spark assessment in its curriculum

The secret here is to stay focused and track your progress. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for constructive feedback from those you trust.

EWF Executive Forums bring female leaders together in a safe, confidential, supportive, interactive space. Our non-compete forums help women sharpen their critical skills and gain invaluable peer feedback. You will find answers to impossible questions and learn how to handle the problematic issues impacting your role as a senior leader.Learn more about EWF’s Executive Forums here.

#4 Self-Regulation

To self-regulate is to turn negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones and know when to pause between emotions and subsequent actions. A leader who self-regulates can channel negative emotions in a productive rather than a destructive manner. This positive outlook makes it easier to solve problems with a cool head.

Self-regulation is a critical skill for effective leadership, allowing you to express yourself appropriately and calmly in front of your team. And the more resilient you become, the faster you recover from setbacks. You become more conscientious, flexible in your approach, and comfortable with change [5].

7 Strategies for Self-Regulation Development

  1. Be attentive to your thoughts and feelings
  2. Learn to accept your emotions and become more emotionally resilient
  3. Develop distress tolerance skills to handle negative emotions
  4. Learn to view every new challenge as an opportunity
  5. Know that there is always a choice on how you respond
  6. Prepare to take responsibility for your actions
  7. Stay mindful of your moral values while leading your team

Self-regulation doesn’t mean you suppress your natural emotions or hide true feelings. It’s simply a skill used to express yourself more appropriately. The goal is to avoid panic and manage stressful situations in a composed manner.

#5 Self-Motivation


Self-motivation is a critical component of emotional intelligence for leaders. No team will be at its best if its leader lacks internal motivation. A driven manager is passionate, dedicated, and highly focused on achieving goals. Motivated managers exude an optimistic disposition, and optimism is infectious, lifting employee morale and drive.

A self-motivated leader is very action-orientated. They continuously set high goals and have a genuine desire to achieve them. That means you never graduate or reach the top of your tree because you have a constant internal strive to be more and do better.

7 Strategies to Develop Self-Motivation

  1. Set small, measurable, and realistic goals
  2. Introduce interesting challenges to keep up momentum
  3. Celebrate incremental achievements as well as end goals
  4. Find intelligent ways to turn obstacles into opportunities
  5. Be mindful of your role as a leader and its direct effect on your team
  6. Reflect on your progress and look for ways to do better
  7. Be open to change
The Best Leaders Have the Right Mindset
Those with growth mindsets are more mentally prepared to approach and tackle challenges. Also, a growth mindset embraces feedback and adopts the most productive problem-solving strategies to accomplish goals[6].

To succeed as a leader, you must visualize yourself in a positive light even when things don’t go well, viewing complications as setbacks and learning opportunities instead of failures. You keep a clear vision of what you want and how to achieve it. And to maintain motivation, you continually set new goals and relish new challenges. 

Want more resources to help improve your EQ? Read the Five Crucial Truths About Leading Through Anxiety. Or, take a look at EWF’s Coaching Services for personalized coaching to take your leadership and career to the next level.