What Makes a Good Leader: 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

Whether you’re leading a group fitness class or looking to move up within your organization, leadership is an indispensable skill – and emotional intelligence is a key component. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of the best leaders have the five emotional intelligence qualities discussed below.

But why is emotional intelligence so important? Because research confirms that leaders with emotional intelligence outperform those without it. They are much better relationally, and able to get in touch with themselves and others more easily.

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. So even if you don’t have a high degree of it now, there’s still hope. For now though, let’s look at its five key attributes…

Five main components of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness
    This is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, your emotions, and your drives, as well as their effect on others. Some hallmarks of self-awareness include confidence, a realistic self-assessment, and self-deprecating humor. (One of the things I really like about people with self-awareness is that they have no problem laughing at themselves.)
  1. Self-regulation
    This is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses, to suspend judgment, to think before acting. The hallmarks of this kind of self-discipline include trustworthiness and integrity. Self-regulated people also show a willingness to embrace change.
  1. Motivation
    Motivation is the ability to work for reasons other than money or status, and to pursue goals with persistence. The hallmarks of people with motivation are a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure (boy, is that true) and organizational commitment. They are committed to making whatever they’re working on be the best it can be.
  1. Empathy
    Simply defined, empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and to take their emotional reactions into account when communicating. This expertise is also helpful for building and retaining talent. Another hallmark of empathy is a higher level of client service.
  1. Social skills
    The final emotional intelligence component is the ability to “network” socially and to find common ground with others. The hallmark of a person with a high degree of social skills is their ability to lead people through a changing situation. They are typically persuasive and they have expertise in building and leading teams.

In the next article we’ll take these five components and break them down a bit more and apply them to the topic leadership. Until then, I’d encourage you to evaluate yourself as to where you think you stand on the components listed above…and remember: self-awareness is an important trait of good leaders.

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