How to Lead With Emotional Intelligence and Empower Others

September 21, 2021

Leadership comes naturally to many people, but most need to work at it in order to be competent, compassionate, and emotionally aware.

After all, great leaders know that leadership is based on emotion: emotions are contagious, and people who know how to lead are able to build emotional connections with team members and stakeholders in order to move the organization or project towards the desired outcome. 

What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and use emotional information about ourselves in order to make more compassionate and informed decisions about how we react to various situations.

Successful leaders use emotional intelligence when they collaborate with others because they recognize that their feelings aren’t the only ones at stake, and that how they behave has a direct outcome on the project’s success and the overall happiness of their team.

How to Empower Others With Emotional Intelligence

One of the most important skills for a leader to have is the ability to empower others, but this requires having well-developed emotional intelligence — after all, how can you help others without understanding what they need in order to be successful?

If you want to start empowering others, begin with these four actionable steps:

1. Understand Yourself and Your Emotions

The best leaders practice mindfulness and take the time to understand their own emotions because they know it’s that understanding that leads to resonant and impactful leadership.

Remember that emotions are contagious –  when you feel angry, people around you might also feel angry. Similarly, your sadness or happiness could be infectious. 

Take the time to understand your emotional triggers and how you react to change, and you can bring this knowledge to future challenges and lead with confidence and compassion.

2. Find the Right Moment

Consider the other person’s emotional state before addressing a challenge or having a discussion. 

Remember: everyone else has feelings, too, so be aware of how the people around you are feeling before jumping into a discussion, and be respectful if someone tells you that they’re too busy or overwhelmed to focus on the discussion at this moment.

If this happens, don’t get upset. Simply ask when they’ll have time to chat, and schedule the discussion for a time that works for you both.

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3. Convey and Align Your Visions

It’s difficult to inspire people when they don’t understand or feel aligned with a company’s vision, so take time to understand the organization’s goals, as well as the goals of any project you and your team are undertaking. 

If these goals aren’t already defined, take the time to develop them and consider asking for  input from your team — both about the overall goal of the project, as well as how to achieve the most successful outcome.

Presenting your vision and giving team members the chance to share their vision of the project or outcome creates opportunities for connection that can be invaluable as you work towards the goal together.

4. Adopt a “Coach Approach”

Coach others on your team to help them develop a personal vision, and work to help them identify the steps they can take to achieve that goal.

This goes beyond just completing tasks at work; spend time talking to people individually to find out how their work, contributions, and overall satisfaction with their job contributes to their overall sense of well-being. 

Some questions to ask include:

  • If everything you wanted turned out perfectly, what would your life and work look like in 5-10 years? Do you see yourself in this company, and if ‘yes,’ what would you be doing?

  • What values are most important to you? How does your work reflect those values?

  • Who helped you become who you are or get to where you are? What would you say to them today if you had the chance?

When you ask these questions, try to practice active listening, that you’re making eye contact, smiling, and acknowledging what the other person is saying. Make sure they feel heard and understood!

Start Empowering Others Using Emotional Intelligence Today

There’s no better time to start becoming a more empathic leader! Our book Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success explains why emotional intelligence is important and offers 45 exercises to collaborate, communicate, and empower others through emotional intelligence and empathy.

To go even deeper, you can also sign up for our next emotional intelligence training coming up Monday, September 20 – 23, or subscribe to our newsletter and join over 1200 professionals who get these tips delivered straight to their inbox once a month.