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Improve Emotional Intelligence: Your Powerful Key to Achieving Phenomenal Leadership Success.

You're about to embark on a journey of exploring Emotional Intelligence. Learn what it is, its profound relationship with leadership success, its significant role in decision making and problem-solving, and actionable strategies to improve it for a more successful personal and professional life.

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Rachel Greenberg
Rachel Greenberg
Rachel is a certified nutritionist and fitness coach with over 15 years of experience in supporting individuals in their journey towards wellness. She is passionate about holistic health, meal prep and encouraging others to embrace physical activity in all its forms.
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Understanding our emotions, how they affect us and how we can navigate their overflow successfully in our day-to-day interactions, has become fundamentally essential in this complex world. Embrace the concept of emotional intelligence, an aspect that is an imperative part of leadership, success, and indeed, overall personal growth. This intellectually intriguing and universally applicable ability enables us to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and helps us discern others’ emotions most empathetically and appropriately.

Isn’t it astonishing how our ability to empathize, motivate, and connect emotionally can foster leadership success? And we’re not just talking about the boardroom. This includes everything from leading a project team at work, to nurturing personal relationships, to shaping impactful discussions in all spheres of our lives. Basically, a high level of emotional intelligence equips us with the ability to manage our reactions, engage in more effective problem solving, and make sensible decisions, all while maintaining an optimum level of psychological health.

Consider the instance of an emotionally intelligent leader. They don’t merely manage their own emotions, but also use their understanding of emotions to inspire, motivate, and connect with their subordinates on a deeper level. This significantly improves team cohesion, morale, and creativity and increases productivity.

Emotional intelligence is not just a luxury for those on the higher rungs of the corporate ladder. It’s an essential life skill, as integral as being able to read, write, or run. Individuals interested in realizing their full potential and achieving the loftiest heights of success must strive to improve emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of true growth and accomplishment, whether it’s for students navigating their personal and academic lives, professionals mastering the art of workplace relations, or business leaders creating a more effective and positive working culture.

In this article, we are going to unravel the intricate layers of emotional intelligence, its vital interdependence with leadership, its profound impact on decision making and problem solving, and its inspiring real-life representations. We will conclude by sharing some effective ways to improve emotional intelligence for your personal and professional success. Let’s dive right into this vast ocean of understanding ourselves better, shall we?

Uncover Emotional Intelligence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Getting to the heart of this matter, emotional intelligence, at its core, is a bicameral concept that consists of “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal” emotional competence. Intrapersonal competence pertains to self-awareness, emotional self-control, and self-motivation. Interpersonal competence, on the other hand, deals with empathy and successful social interactions.

Dr. John Mayer, who popularized the term, revealed, “Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” This entails not just understanding the ‘what’ of emotions, but also the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Why am I feeling a certain way? How should I handle this feeling? How do my emotions affect those around me and vice versa?

Daniel Goleman, who further pushed Emotional Intelligence into the limelight, asserts that fundamentally emotional intelligence includes five crucial aspects:

  1. Self-awareness: Understanding your own emotions.
  2. Self-regulation: Managing your emotions effectively.
  3. Motivation: Harnessing your emotions constructively.
  4. Empathy: Understanding other people’s emotions.
  5. Social skills: Navigating social dynamics proficiently.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence

The significance of emotional intelligence can be gauged from an assortment of life scenarios where it plays a pivotal role. Whether it’s a student struggling with peer pressure, a professional dealing with workplace stress, or a leader trying to manage a diverse and opinionated team, exercising high emotional intelligence can remedy the toughest situations.

Consider decision making, for example. When facing a tough choice, someone high in Emotional Intelligence would be aware of the emotions influencing their judgment, capable of managing any exorbitant stress, able to recognize how their decision could affect others emotionally, and aware of the social implications.

Emotional Intelligence also greatly facilitates conflict management and problem-solving. Being aware of and able to control their own emotions and understand what others are feeling equips an individual with the ability to demonstrate patience, see different perspectives, and formulate solutions that are best for everyone involved.

From students enhancing their academic success by managing exam stress, to professionals excelling in their careers by building strong relationships and deploying effective teamwork, to leaders inspiring their teams whilst fostering an environment of mutual respect and efficient communication, emotional intelligence is the catalyst that remarkably augments our quality of life. It may seem abstract compared to hard skills like mathematics or programming, but its effects are tangible and universal.

Given the substantial impact that emotional intelligence has on our personal and professional lives, we need to commit to understanding it more deeply, and more importantly, strive to improve it. In the coming sections, we will further explore the link between Emotional Intelligence and leadership success, delve into its relation to efficient decision making and problem-solving, and finally, hand you the keys to improve emotional intelligence.

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Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Success

Emotional Intelligence’s Role in Leadership

Emotional intelligence and leadership success are intertwined in a multitude of ways. Effective leaders are renowned for their ability to inspire, motivate, and connect with their teams and it’s the emotional intelligence that undergirds these leadership qualities.

An emotionally intelligent leader is self-aware, understanding the influence of their emotions on their behavior, and able to self-regulate, managing their feelings in various circumstances to respond rather than react. They are also intrinsically motivated. They use their passion and enthusiasm to motivate others, fostering a highly engaged and productive team.

Further, these leaders are empathetic. They can understand and share the feelings of their team members, improving communication, building trust, and increasing team cohesion. Lastly, emotionally intelligent leaders are expert social navigators. They have excellent problem-solving and interpersonal skills, enabling them to handle team dynamics gracefully and maintain a positive work environment.

Empowerment, balance, and a positive atmosphere – that’s the endeavor of an emotionally intelligent leader. In the words of Daniel Goleman, “Emotional intelligence is not the only thing that “matters” in leadership, but it is a leader’s ‘master aptitude’.”

Case Studies: Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Several studies have highlighted the correlation between emotional intelligence and leadership success. For instance, a research survey, conducted by Six Seconds, a global network supporting people to create positive change, assessed over 2000 individuals in various roles and sectors. The study found that top-performing leaders, representing the top 10% based on performance ratings, possess significantly higher emotional intelligence than those in the bottom 10%.

The global consulting firm, Korn Ferry Hay Group, conducted an extensive analysis that demonstrated leaders with superior Emotional Intelligence maintain engaged management teams, leading to a reduction in turnover, an increase in sales, and improved operational efficiency.

In a real-life example, consider Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Named by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful women, Barra’s leadership style, characterized by empathy, humility, and unwavering resolve, has been highly praised and linked to her emotional intelligence. Her assertive yet empathetic approach during the company’s ignition switch crisis demonstrated her exceptional ability in problem-solving and the creation of long-term programs focusing on safety.

These examples clearly underline that emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in leadership success. It’s not just about having a vision and making decisions. The human element—how you understand and manage yourself, interact with your team, engage and inspire them—is equally, if not more, crucial. That’s where Emotional Intelligence comes under the spotlight. As we move forward, we will discuss how specific facets of Emotional Intelligence such as effective decision making and adept problem solving can be harnessed for success. And most importantly, learn how we can improve emotional intelligence ourselves.

Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Decision Making and Problem Solving

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Decision Making

Decision making is inevitably intertwined with emotions, whether in personal or professional life. Emotional intelligence facilitates balanced and effective decision-making abilities by aiding us in navigating through the emotional complexities involved in tough choices.

Firstly, self-awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence, allows us to discern our mood states and their impact on our decisions. For instance, it can help distinguish a ‘gut feeling’ from a knee-jerk emotional reaction.

Self-regulation allows for better impulse control, providing the needed space to deliberate hence, making more thoughtful choices. Motivation ensures we’re not rushed into hasty decisions, while empathy lends perspective to how our decisions might influence others.

Moreover, as Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate and author of the book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, emphasizes, our mode of thinking shifts when we move from a neutral state to an emotionally charged state. In such scenarios, emotional intelligence serves as an elemental aid and enables us to make sound and informed decisions.

Emotional Intelligence’s Impact on Problem Solving

The significance of emotional intelligence cannot be overstated when confronting challenges and carrying out problem solving. High emotional intelligence leads to better understanding and management of emotions during tense moments, reducing stress and allowing for clearer cognitive processing.

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Moreover, empathizing with involved parties leads to broader perspectives, ensuring that solutions do not carry implicit bias and are beneficial to everyone involved. Also, adept social skills allow easier navigation through group dynamics, ensuring smooth collaboration and effective solutions.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that employees with high emotional intelligence deal more proactively with work-related problems and have a greater sense of control and commitment to their jobs.

Case Studies: Successful Decision Making & Problem Solving with Emotional Intelligence

Consider the response of Arne Sorenson, former CEO of Marriott International, amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Faced with an unprecedented challenge, Sorenson chose transparency, candor, and empathy when making the tough decision to furlough thousands of employees. His clear communication and empathic touch, elements of high emotional intelligence, eased the strain on all parties involved.

A famed example in the tech industry is Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella. Since assuming the top role, Nadella has cultivated a culture of empathy and inclusive decision-making. Despite facing significant obstacles, including market competition and internal issues, Nadella’s emotionally intelligent leadership resulted in remarkable turnaround stories, not only financially, but also in terms of company culture.

These cases highlight the essential role that emotional intelligence plays in advanced decision making and effective problem solving. Maximizing Emotional Intelligence will allow you, too, to tackle challenges, big or small, with skill and finesse. In the upcoming sections, we’ll present even more powerful real-life individuals high in Emotional Intelligence and enlighten you with ways to improve your emotional intelligence.

Real-Life Successful Individuals High in Emotional Intelligence

When it comes to emotional intelligence, real-life instances file an impressive dossier of successful individuals. These are figures who’ve ascended the ladder of success not just by virtue of their intellectual prowess, but largely due to their remarkable Emotional Intelligence.

Listen to Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks. He has frequently affirmed the importance of leading with compassion and humanity. His ability to empathize with his employees and his instinctive concern for their welfare fortified staff loyalty and manifested in a thriving global coffee giant. Schultz’s leadership exemplifies that empathy and interpersonal effectiveness, constituents of emotional intelligence, are not simply nice-to-haves but necessary for sustained success.

Another demonstration of high emotional intelligence in leadership comes from Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. Known for her strategic acumen, what sets her apart is her emotionally intelligent approach towards leadership. She acknowledged the emotions of her employees. She even spent time each year writing to her senior executives’ parents to acknowledge their role in their child’s success. Her understanding and appreciation for emotions, aided by her emotional intelligence, connected her team on a deeper level, producing exceptional results for PepsiCo.

As a co-founder of Google, Larry Page was instrumental in fostering a culture of openness and creativity at Google. Here, emotional intelligence proved crucial. Recognizing that fear stifles innovation, Page devised an environment where errors weren’t penalized, thus encouraging risk-taking and creative thought. His high level of emotional intelligence played a key role in shaping Google as the innovation powerhouse it is today.

Lastly, consider the sheer spirit of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary who became South Africa’s first black president. Mandela’s legendary Emotional Intelligence is epitomized in his exceptional self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. His ability to forgive his oppressors and unify a divided nation stands testimony to his tremendous and inspiring emotional intelligence.

These examples paint a vivid picture of emotional intelligence as a mainstay of real-world success, towering above traditional metrics like IQ or technical skills. They instill in us an understanding of the sheer might of emotional intelligence in shaping our lives and corridors of power around the globe. However, the key question remains, how do we cultivate and enhance our own emotional intelligence? The following section provides a blueprint to improve emotional intelligence, leading us towards more fulfilling personal and professional journeys.

Blueprint to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Importance of Improving Emotional Intelligence

The path to personal and professional success is markedly expedited when one decides to improve emotional intelligence. As students, it aids us to manage the emotional whirlwinds of academics while maintaining optimal personal relationships. As professionals, it empowers us to work collaboratively while navigating workplace conflicts competently. As leaders, it enables us to inspire, motivate, and connect with our teams on a deeper level. Therefore, the quest to improve emotional intelligence is a worthy endeavor in every individual’s growth journey.

Practical Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence

There are several practical techniques to improve emotional intelligence. Here are some steps to begin this journey:

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  1. Understand your emotions: The linchpin of Emotional Intelligence is understanding your emotions. It helps to maintain a journal to record emotional responses and introspect on their triggers.
  2. Practice emotional regulation: Challenge yourself not to react immediately. Take a pause, understand your feelings, and compose a thoughtful response.
  3. Cultivate an optimistic outlook: Staying positive in challenging situations keeps emotional turmoil at bay, enabling clearer thought and decision-making.
  4. Develop empathy: Trying to understand things from others’ perspectives increases empathy. A simple exercise could be to read a book or watch a movie and reflect on the feelings of different characters.
  5. Improve social skills: Engage in activities that involve teamwork or public speaking. The experience could provide insights into group dynamics and improve your interpersonal skills.

Long-Term Benefits of Nurturing Emotional Intelligence

The dedication to improve emotional intelligence promises extensive long-term perks. Students display increased academic performance, better stress management, and improved relationships. Professionals enjoy enhanced career progression, effective teamwork, and conflict management. Leaders experience enhanced employee engagement, higher team productivity, and improved organizational culture.

As per research by Daniel Goleman, in nearly two-thirds of the competencies regarded as essential for superior leadership performance, emotional intelligence emerged as more crucial than technical skills or IQ.

Whether it’s enhancing leadership success, fine-tuning decision making, or advancing problem-solving prowess, the journey to improve emotional intelligence is a journey of continuous growth, learning, and improvement. With a potent blend of commitment and consciousness, Emotional Intelligence can indeed be nurtured and improved.


Exploring and harnessing emotional intelligence is an enlightening voyage of self-discovery and self-improvement. We’ve delved into its definitional layers, examined its crucial implication in our personal and professional lives, and understood its profound influence on effective leadership and successful decision making and problem-solving. The anecdotes of successful individuals have even further underscored the incredible potential that lies in understanding and managing our emotions, and the emotions of others.

As we awaken to the significance of emotional intelligence, its inextricable relevance to modern life becomes conspicuously evident. It is no longer a “soft” skill confined to the realm of psychologists and HR professionals. It’s a life skill, as critical as logical reasoning or digital savviness.

Importantly, cultivating emotional intelligence is not the privilege of a chosen few. It’s accessible and achievable for all of us. By committing to self-awareness, mastering emotional regulation, nurturing empathy, and refining our social skills, we can improve our Emotional Intelligence, enhancing our personal, academic, and professional lives.

It’s never too late to embark on the voyage to improve emotional intelligence. As acclaimed psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman puts it, “Emotional Intelligence is a different way of being smart. It includes knowing what your feelings are and using your feelings to make good decisions in life.” Indeed, Emotional Intelligence is the elusive X-factor that can unveil a pathway to a more fulfilled life – a life of authenticity, compassion, resilience, and enduring success.

Let’s champion its cause and integrate the lessons of Emotional Intelligence into our personal narratives, transforming our own lives and positively influencing the lives around us. After all, is it not said that emotion drives people and people drive performance? And, indeed, emotional intelligence sits royally at the helm of this emotional voyage.

Let’s all strive to master this ship, shall we?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as empathize with the emotions felt by others. It encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Why is Emotional Intelligence important?

Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in our personal and professional lives. It empowers us to handle stress better, enhances our ability to collaborate with others, strengthens our conflict-resolution ability, and allows for more informed decision making.

How does Emotional Intelligence impact Leadership?

High emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership. Leaders with higher emotional intelligence can understand and manage their own emotions, empathize with their team members’ emotions, inspire and motivate others, effectively handle team dynamics and foster a positive work environment.

Can Emotional Intelligence Improve Decision Making and Problem Solving?

Absolutely. Emotional intelligence encourages a more balanced, systematic approach to decision making. It reduces impulsive decisions by helping us understand and manage our emotions. As for problem-solving, Emotional Intelligence fosters empathy and better interpersonal abilities, which are essential for effective group problem-solving.

Can Emotional Intelligence be Improved?

Yes, anyone can improve emotional intelligence. Personal commitment and consistent practice in areas like self-awareness, emotional regulation, motivation, empathy, and interpersonal skills can significantly enhance Emotional Intelligence.

Why should we strive to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Improving emotional intelligence equips us with crucial skills for managing our own emotions and understanding others’ emotions. It enhances our personal and professional relationships, fosters academic and career success, and strengthens overall mental health.

How can we Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Improving emotional intelligence entails understanding our own emotions, regulating our emotions appropriately, nurturing an optimistic outlook, developing empathy, and honing social skills. No step is a magic fix, but a continuous commitment to these steps can bring remarkable improvements.

What benefits can we expect from Improving Emotional Intelligence?

Over the long-term, improving emotional intelligence can enhance academic performance, career progression, leadership abilities, personal and professional relationships, ability to handle stress, and overall quality of life.

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