Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Photo: Courtesy of the Forrester B2B Summit North America, Women's Leadership Forum
I can easily speak to a crowd of hundreds, yet I sometimes feel awkward when engaging in small talk in one-to-one conversations.

Sometimes when I’m researching for a post, the content gets close to home – this is one of those times. Understanding my feelings has enabled me to make shifts in building relational connections.

And the core of this change is rooted in continuously developing my emotional intelligence.

A Snapshot of Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions and the emotions of those around you. 

Examples of positive and negative emotions include joy, excitement, contentment, calmness, optimism, insecurity, anger, jealousy, anxiety, frustration, fear, stress, or feeling overwhelmed.

In 1990, Yale psychologists Peter Solovey and John D Mayer developed the emotional intelligence concept (also referred to as emotional quotient). 

Later, psychologist Daniel Goleman made emotional intelligence (“EI”) more popular, identifying four components that enable having a high EI: 

  • Self-awareness. Know what you feel, why you feel that way, and how your feelings influence your thoughts and actions.
  • Self-regulation. Use your self-awareness discovery to manage your emotions.
  • Social awareness. Understand how someone feels without them telling you – the ability to empathize. 
  • Relationship management. Use the knowledge of your feelings and the understanding of others to build relationships.

My Early Life Experience Revelation

In my early years, I spent significant time with my paternal grandmother, who was in her 70s.

Set in her ways, she practiced the concept that children should be seen, not heard when visiting with her friends. Consequently, there was limited opportunity for me to engage socially.

Additionally, as a farm girl in rural Mississippi, I typically interacted with others around my age during structured times in kindergarten and elementary school. So, becoming adept in social interactions, and recognizing and managing my thoughts and feelings as I interfaced with others, was limited.

So why does that matter? 

I’ve realized how being alone in my early childhood shaped my feelings, ultimately influencing how I engage with others in the business world as an adult. 

Insecurities originating from being excluded in conversations early in life show up today when I shy away from engaging with others in one-to-one interactions or lean toward asking a few questions and actively listening.

Awareness of these tendencies has helped me to adjust and bring out my best self in developing relational connections.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

As leaders, when we are not in tune and do not actively manage our feelings, or we are not aware of others’ feelings with whom we interact, we can say or do things that may not serve well for ourselves or others. 

How to Elevate Emotional Intelligence

Your emotional intelligence opportunity is likely different than mine. Consider what stands in the way of showing up at your best as you lead others.

Researchers suggest taking these steps to increase emotional intelligence –

  • First, determine what you are thinking, feeling, and desiring at the moment. 
  • Name the emotion.
  • Get a sense of what triggers that emotion. 
  • Then, think ahead about how to manage yourself when the emotion surfaces.

In addition, pay attention to others’ emotions and non-verbal communication. These signals may indicate the need to flex your leadership style to meet their needs.

Personal Benefits of Higher Emotional Intelligence

With higher emotional intelligence, we may experience –  

  • Less work-related stress
  • More engaging interpersonal relationships
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Elevated job satisfaction
  • Higher job performance
  • A healthier work environment

As a leader, being transparent and vulnerable in sharing how you work to self-regulate creates the environment for holistic change for your team. 

Others gauge how to manage themselves during interpersonal interactions based on how they see you handle yourself. 

As with any other aspect of leadership, elevating emotional intelligence is a journey. So let’s take the next step together. Contact me for a complimentary consultation: https://www.endviewsolutions.com/contact/.

The photo is courtesy of the Forrester B2B Summit North America: Women’s Leadership Forum.


Baker, N. (2022, July), What is emotional intelligence and why is it becoming ‘a must-have skill’ at Work? ABC News. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-01/what-is-emotional-intelligence-at-work/101270746

Doǧru, Ç. (2022, April 25). A meta-analysis of the relationships between emotional intelligence and employee outcomes. Frontiers in Psychology.Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.611348/full

Emotional intelligence. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-intelligence

Photo: Courtesy of the Forrester B2B Summit North America, Women’s Leadership Forum

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

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Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.