What Makes
an Emotionally Intelligent Leader?

by Keith Beasley

What a good question! After some reflection I'd like to suggest the following traits, not in any particular order:

1. Someone who doesn't crave power. Whilst an EI leader needs to be able to exercise power and be comfortable with it, they must be free of the 'power for the sake of it' aspect of many who become leaders.

2. They must be capable of doing what needs to be done 'for the greater good'. This follows on from the above: an EI leader will be willing and able to see the bigger picture, recognise the true needs of those he or she is leading and act for them . . . not pursuing some ego desire.

3. Be prepared to make sacrifices. Again, a necessary corollary to the above. High EQ in a leader is perhaps demonstrated by the ability to 'give of themselves'. OK, maybe not go on hunger strike like Gandhi, but to be prepared to suffer a few personal hardships and humiliations.

4. Be willing to admit mistakes; to acknowledge when a change of direction or approach is needed. This means being willing to change themselves, to be open to personal growth.

5. Someone with a 6th sense, an ability to just KNOW what needs to be done. Such an intuitive ability can be developed by anyone who is willing to rise above logical argument and emotional reaction. It's about being deeply connected (some would say at a soul level) to not just those he or she is leader of, but to the surrounding energies, moods, needs etc. An EI leader can put their position into the perspective of global trends, environmental needs, etc.

6. Be brave and courageous: to be willing to face and work through their own inner fears. Not only does this give them the ability to 'go into the lions den' but also to understand the fear in others . . . and to allow for it. An EI leader does not use fear as a weapon or tool: they help and encourage others to look at the underlying issues and to rise above the fear mentality.

7. Be inspiring to others . . . which probably means to be inspired. Not just by a particular goal or cause but by life itself; to have an inner conviction, an infectious zest . . . for joy and truth, for example. This is something that comes from being at peace with one-self: so an Emotionally Intelligent leader needs to be free of (or at least aware of) their own 'issues' . . . and to not take themselves too seriously.

That's probably enough for starters! Other than the likes of Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, I'm not sure we have many leaders of present or recent past who display more than one or two of these traits. But that doesn't mean we can't aspire to them. Those of us in the EQ educators role can do much to enable these characteristics . . . once we commit to the process ourselves!


Other articles by Keith on Emotional Intelligence

IQ, EQ and Enlightenment - how it all started for me

Measuring EQ - Why it's emotionally UN-intelligent

The Artistry of Emotional Intelligence

The Heart & Soul of EI - A spiritual perspective

Improving awareness of our Emotional Intelligence - an alternative to Measuring EQ

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