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The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Written by Chuck Olson

December 2013 – It’s not a pretty sight. But it is a familiar one. Unfortunately.

It’s Wednesday—the day you and the rest of the office staff head to the local bistro for lunch. The server circles the table collecting the orders. Typically, while waiting for the sandwiches and salads to arrive, there is a steady flow of lively banter. But not today. Sharon, overpowered by the events of her life, begins to tell her co-workers about her aging father who is battling Alzheimer’s, detailing how unimaginably painful her last visit was.

What happens next is unfortunate…but not all that uncommon. One of Sharon’s co-workers blows right through the moment—a moment crying out for someone to step in with some expression of care and support—and instead begins to drone on about the latest research on brain chemistry. A clear miss.

Welcome to the world of emotional intelligence. (Or lack thereof).

In a word, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions, and to do so in ways that empathize with others, communicate effectively, and defuse conflict.

Based on the research, there are four aspects of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness – the capacity to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and actions, and awareness of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Self-management – the capacity to control your feelings and actions, manage your emotions in productive ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness – the capacity to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel at ease socially, and recognize the dynamics in a group or organization.
  • Relational management – the capacity to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team setting, and manage conflict.

This whole emotional intelligence construct simply cannot be overstated, especially in the life of a leader. Need convincing? Lock in on these words from one of the primary emotional intelligence voices, Daniel Goleman, from his book Working With Emotional Intelligence: “For star performance in all jobs, in every field, emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities. For success at the highest levels, in leadership positions, emotional competence accounts for virtually the entire advantage.”

Now that’s a significant statement!

But don’t you find it to be all too true? Often it’s not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. Think about it. More than likely you know people who have a high IQ, yet they are socially uncomfortable and ineffective at work and in personal relationships.

Here’s the point: Leaders exponentially increase their success when they leverage their intellectual intelligence (IQ) by developing their emotional intelligence (EQ).

Here’s the good news: While your IQ is static, your EQ is dynamic. You can become a more emotionally intelligent leader.

Here’s the challenge: Intentionally upgrade your emotional intelligence. Notch it up. Don’t settle for the current status of your emotional intelligence.

And here’s a game plan: I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Tucked into its pages you will find a passcode to access an online inventory that you can take to appraise your emotional intelligence. But that’s just the start. It gets better. Based on your inventory, you will receive a set of strategies about how to ramp up your emotional intelligence.

You up for the challenge?

I hope so. You owe it to those who trust in and count on your leadership.


Have you taken the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 inventory?

If so, what did you think?

Join the conversation. Post your comments below.

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Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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