Emotional Intelligence; A Required Skill Among Rising Leaders | Women in the Boardroom


Emotional Intelligence; A Required Skill Among Rising Leaders

Emotional Intelligence; A Required Skill Among Rising Leaders

Emotional intelligence (EQ), like any vital leadership skills, has become even more critical during 2020. And it should be no surprise to any of us that Americans are struggling with their mental health amidst fear of the continued pandemic, layoffs, digital fatigue, the election and the ever-growing weight for women who are working remotely and managing their children’s homeschooling.

Eight months into the pandemic, all leaders must be held accountable to exhibit qualities of emotional intelligence to successfully lead and support their teams through the uncertainties of the upcoming months.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is your aptitude to recognize and hone your own self-awareness and to also effectively engage with others and influence them to success. And it’s a skill that I’ve continuously kept top of mind throughout my years as a leader.

As a result, I always made it a rule, that when I was “walking the halls” of my organization, to be aware of and say “hello” to staff I knew or acknowledge anyone who said “hello” to me or wanted to chat. If I did not greet them, because I was busy or running to a meeting, I didn’t want them to interpret it as if they did something wrong or make the assumption that I disliked them. Part of being a great leader is the capacity to build effective and meaningful relationships. Many senior and executive level women may find themselves at a standstill in their roles because of their lack of development in emotional intelligence, and I say this without criticism.

This is, oftentimes, because women have their heads down pounding away to reach extraordinary levels of success and are not paying enough attention to managing up as well as down. But enhancing your leadership skills and paying attention to being emotionally intelligent can certainly be the difference between your successes and your failures as a leader because emotions predict your actions, shape our social interactions, and determine how clearly we’re able to communicate with others.

How is Emotional Intelligence Critical For Success?

Emotional Intelligence was critical to my success in transforming a legacy consumer products company and productively pivoting the business for growth.

Being a new leader, I was aware that everyone knew there would be changes, not just to the organization, but to who would actually be working there. To move forward with an effective plan, I needed new skills but also support from within the organization. So, I chose a mix of legacy management and new management as my core team and involved the legacy management in the development of the transformation plan and the selection of new management.

This gave them a voice and a stake in the process and communicated to them and the organization that I respect their accomplishments to date. It got me tremendous support on the new plan. And I credit this support to my foresight in exercising my own emotional intelligence.

Employees Leave Bad Managers

You know the saying, “People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers”? Well, this is, essentially, a lack of emotional intelligence summed up in a nutshell. Quality leaders illustrate an ability to manage the moods and emotions of their organizations; they’re aware of how their leadership style impacts those around them and what types of waves it creates beyond their immediate team.

They also exhibit a degree of empathy, relating to others on an emotional level in an authentic way. Not to mention, it is one of the keys to success we endlessly reference at Women in the Boardroom. If you want to reach your corporate board goals, you’ll have to develop a quality strategy to network, and networking requires building real relationships and true connections.

Because emotional intelligence is an integral part of being a successful leader, it’s important that all leaders dedicate some effort to building their capacity in understanding and using EQ in their work lives. According Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of HBR’s “What Makes A Leader”,

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

How Emotional Intelligence Plays Into Board Service

Having a high EQ, in the boardroom, is now more critical than ever. So, In your journey to board service, think about how you and those around you have and have not used EQ and how it has supported, impacted, or deterred you on your career path. Bring those examples into your networking discussions, consider how you assessed situations, made decisions, solved problems, and had impact.

Demonstrate by example that you have high EQ and how you have effectively engaged and influence others. It is a basic requirement for successful leadership and board service.


If you’re interested in continuing the conversation, Reach out to me directly! Leslie Doty, CEO, Women in the Boardroom.

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