HR Blog

December 3, 2021 | Olaide Bakare, PHRi

With the rise of AI in HR, it has become more important than ever for leaders to display emotional intelligence (EI). In the context of business and HR, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to comprehend, control, and develop your own feelings, while also being able to understand and manage others’ feelings.

It goes beyond the administrative nuts and bolts of being a great leader and emphasizes how your emotions affect others and how you can use that knowledge to create positive outcomes, both personally and with the people you manage.

The term “Emotional Intelligence” was first coined in 1990 by some researchers, but was later popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman. According to him, there are 5 EI competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, motivation, and empathy. Every leader or manager interested in improving their Emotional Intelligence in the workplace must prioritize these five competencies, breaking them down into even smaller skillsets for the best results.


Self-awareness is at the core of everything. It describes your ability to not only understand your strengths and weaknesses, but to recognize your emotions and the effect they have on you and your team’s performance.

Without the ability to reflect and view yourself objectively, you may lean towards blaming others or failing to see how your actions contribute to particular outcomes. Self-awareness helps you recognize and understand your moods and emotions, as well as their effect on others.


Self-management refers to the ability to manage your emotions, particularly in stressful situations, and maintain a positive outlook despite setbacks. Leaders who lack self-management tend to react and have a harder time keeping their impulses in check.

Good leaders and managers must be able to handle pressure and refrain from emotional outbursts or strong negative reactions at work as these actions can cloud the leader’s decision-making, break team morale, and cause confusion in a bad situation. Emotionally intelligent leaders hold their emotions in check and channel their energy into creating positive outcomes.

Social Skills

Most of us know a leader we would describe as being a “people person” or having great social skills. Having good social skills is about being able to make emotional connections with communication.

Leaders with good social skills are able to communicate effectively in response to different audiences, situations and degrees of complexity. They are also talented at resolving conflicts and managing change in a diplomatic fashion. When people’s lives will be affected by a decision, leaders with high emotional intelligence will demonstrate that they respect the needs, fears and hopes of the people involved.


More than the promise of bonuses, salary increases, perks, or a more senior title, good leaders are motivated by strong intrinsic values, which they communicate clearly and often to their teams and employees. Motivation partly stems from understanding WHAT you want to do and WHY you want to do it. Getting the grip on the ‘why’ part often requires a degree of self-reflection, which is where high Emotional Intelligence comes in.

Motivated leaders have high work standards for themselves and work towards goals in a consistent way. Leaders with high Emotional Intelligence understand what makes their employees and work colleagues tick, and will be able to incentivize and motivate them to find their own reasons for working to the best of their ability.


Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. This ability helps leaders develop people on their team, challenge stereotypes and unfair assumptions, and deliver critical feedback wisely.

Without empathy, a leader is unable to recognize the impact of their actions on others. They may be unkind to employees and team members without being aware. They may ask for more than their team can handle and create a toxic work culture. An empathetic leader builds a positive work atmosphere upheld by team loyalty and mutual respect.


In conclusion,

Leaders set the tone of their organization. If they lack Emotional Intelligence, it could have more far-reaching consequences, resulting in lower employee engagement and a higher turnover rate.

While you might excel at your job technically, if you cannot effectively communicate with your team or collaborate with others, those technical skills will get overlooked. By mastering Emotional Intelligence, you can continue to advance your career and organization.

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