Leadership effectiveness is often measured by the success of those being led. While this metric may not be perfect, it highlights an important aspect of leadership - understanding others.

This understanding, in turn, relies on a crucial element - understanding and managing oneself. This is where emotional intelligence comes into play.

Emotional intelligence is vital for effective leadership, as it empowers leaders to encourage bravery (as it is only when we are brave and uncomfortable that we grow).

To develop emotional intelligence, one must focus on understanding oneself, managing emotions, comprehending others, and effectively communicating with them.   

The remarkable aspect of emotional intelligence is that it can be learned, practised, and applied at all organisational levels, and not just for leaders as part of a leadership development programme By incorporating emotional intelligence into corporate training solutions, organisations can create an environment where success knows no bounds. 

Understanding Emotional Intelligence  

Understanding Emotional Intelligence  | MDA Training

1. What is Emotional Intelligence?  

Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to recognise, understand, and manage emotions in oneself and others. It involves being aware of one's emotions, having the ability to express them appropriately, and recognising how emotions impact behaviour and decision-making.  

2. Components of Emotional Intelligence  

Emotional intelligence comprises several components:  

Self-Awareness: Recognising and understanding one's emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.  

Self-Regulation: Managing and controlling emotions effectively, especially in challenging situations.  

Empathy: Being able to understand and share the feelings of others.  

Social Skills: Building and maintaining positive relationships, effective communication, and conflict resolution.  

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership  

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership  | MDA Training

1. Empathy and Understanding  

Leaders with high emotional intelligence can empathise with their team members and understand their needs, concerns, and perspectives. This allows leaders to create a supportive and inclusive work environment, fostering trust and collaboration.  

2. Effective Communication  

Leaders with emotional intelligence excel in communicating their ideas, visions, and expectations. They listen actively, adapt their communication style to different individuals, and provide constructive feedback. This enhances clarity, reduces conflicts, and promotes a shared sense of purpose.  

3. Building and Managing Relationships  

Emotionally intelligent leaders prioritise building strong relationships with their team members. They invest time and effort in getting to know their employees, fostering mutual respect, and creating a positive work culture. Strong relationships boost employee morale, loyalty, and commitment.  

4. Conflict Resolution  

Conflicts are inevitable in any organisation. Emotional intelligence enables leaders to navigate conflicts effectively by remaining calm, understanding diverse perspectives, and facilitating open dialogue. They can mediate conflicts and find win-win solutions, maintaining a harmonious and productive work environment.  

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership  

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership  | MDA Training

1. Improved Decision Making  

Emotionally intelligent leaders make better decisions by considering both rational analysis and emotional factors. They can assess the emotional impact of decisions on individuals and the organisation, leading to more balanced and informed choices.  

2. Increased Team Collaboration  

Leaders with high emotional intelligence foster a collaborative team culture. They encourage open communication, respect diverse opinions, and create a psychologically safe environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing ideas and collaborating on projects.  

3. Enhanced Employee Engagement  

Emotionally intelligent leaders inspire and motivate their employees. By understanding their aspirations, strengths, and areas for growth, they can provide tailored support, recognition, and opportunities for development. This leads to higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction.  

4. Adaptability and Resilience  

In times of change and uncertainty, emotionally intelligent leaders are better equipped to navigate challenges and adapt their strategies.

They remain calm, focused, and resilient, inspiring confidence in their teams and driving positive outcomes even in the face of adversity.  

Emotional intelligence is a vital attribute for effective leadership. It encompasses understanding oneself, managing emotions, comprehending others, and communicating effectively.

By developing emotional intelligence, leaders can create an environment where individuals can flourish, leading to limitless potential for success at all levels of an organisation.  

Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Authentic Leadership and Organisational Success  

Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Authentic Leadership and Organisational Success  | MDA Training

1. Understanding Ourselves

To become emotionally intelligent leaders, it is imperative to have a deep understanding of ourselves. This includes identifying what drives us, motivates us, and frightens us. By gaining clarity on our values and motivations, we can align our actions with our personal and professional goals. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence and enables us to lead authentically.  

2. Managing Ourselves

Emotional intelligence also entails effectively managing ourselves. This involves recognising our triggers, understanding how we cope with stress and adversity, and shifting from reactive thinking to proactive thinking. By mastering self-regulation, we can navigate challenging situations with composure, make sound decisions, and maintain focus amidst chaos. Managing ourselves allows us to lead by example and create a positive impact on those around us.  

2.1 Coping with Triggers  

Identifying the triggers that elicit negative emotions is a crucial aspect of managing ourselves. By acknowledging and understanding these triggers, we can develop strategies to effectively cope with them. This might involve practising mindfulness techniques, seeking support from trusted individuals, or engaging in activities that promote self-care and well-being.  

2.2 Adopting Above-the-Waterline Thinking  

Above-the-waterline thinking refers to shifting our mindset from reactive and defensive to proactive and growth-oriented. By cultivating a positive mindset and focusing on solutions rather than problems, we can approach challenges with optimism and resilience. This mindset shift allows us to overcome obstacles and inspire others to do the same.  

3. Understanding Others

In addition to self-awareness and self-management, emotional intelligence requires a genuine understanding of others. This entails delving deeper into what drives their behaviours, actively listening with an open mind and heart, and developing empathy. When we strive to understand others, we can build stronger relationships, foster trust, and create a sense of belonging within teams.  

3.1 Empathetic Listening  

Empathetic listening is a cornerstone of understanding others. It involves actively listening to others' perspectives, suspending judgement, and seeking to comprehend their emotions and needs. By practising empathetic listening, leaders can establish open lines of communication, strengthen rapport, and promote a culture of respect and inclusivity.  

3.2 Perspective-Taking  

To truly understand others, leaders must go beyond surface-level observations and stand in the shoes of their team members. This involves considering their unique experiences, motivations, and challenges. Perspective-taking fosters a sense of camaraderie and facilitates collaboration, ultimately leading to more cohesive and productive teams.  

4. Effective Communication

Communication is a fundamental aspect of emotional intelligence in leadership. It encompasses the ability to motivate, inspire, and trigger action in others. Effective communication involves tailoring messages to resonate with the intended audience, using clear and concise language, and adapting communication styles to different individuals and situations. By mastering the art of communication, leaders can influence and engage their teams, fostering a shared vision and commitment to organisational goals.  


Emotional intelligence is a vital attribute for effective leadership. By understanding ourselves, managing our emotions, comprehending others, and communicating effectively, leaders can create an environment where individuals can flourish.

Emotional intelligence is not limited to a select few; it can be learned and developed by individuals at all levels of an organisation. When emotional intelligence becomes ingrained in an organisation's culture, the potential for success knows no bounds.  

Contact MDA Training

MDA Training is a leading provider of professional development programs aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence and leadership skills. Our expert trainers offer tailored workshops that focus on understanding oneself, managing emotions, understanding others, and effective communication.

By partnering with MDA Training, organisations can unlock their full potential, foster a positive work environment, and achieve exceptional results. To embark on a transformative journey towards emotional intelligence and effective leadership, contact MDA Trainers today. 

Blog Co-Authored By: Paul Hewett, Director at MDA Training