The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Subject: Decision Making
Pages: 3
Words: 832
Reading time:
3 min

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify your own and others’ emotions and employ them in problem-solving and decision making. Emotionally intelligent individuals can easily recognize emotions in others via facial expressions and body language and utilize it to adapt their behaviour. Many studies link EI to leadership skills and success across various spheres (Mayer et al., 2016). Such individuals can utilize emotional thinking and empathy to persuade people around them. Additionally, they can manage their emotions and impulses well, leading to better performance in the workplace (Mayer et al., 2016). A clear understanding of their feelings helps emotionally intelligent individuals to deal with problems and crises better. This essay describes EI models, focusing on communication and decision-making, and its relation to effective leadership.

There are two models of EI: the ability model and the trait model. The ability model argues that EI is a mental ability of an individual to utilize others’ emotions to fine-tune one’s (Mayer et al., 2016). Such individuals can accurately perceive others’ emotions through facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice. This skill allows them to establish better social connections by displaying empathy and compassion. They make full use of emotional information to guide their social behavior and adapt to various situations that require psychological insight. Additionally, people with high EI can apply their emotions to problem-solving and decision-making. They can put feelings into perspective, draw on their past experiences, and use emotional information creatively and innovatively.

Furthermore, high EI allows people to manage emotions better than those with low EI. Often high EI is associated with general objectivity that can further enhance one’s decision-making abilities (Mayer et al., 2016). These skills allow people to approach a problem calmly, which leads to a better outcome. Understanding the emotions of others allows EI leaders to build upon each team member’s skills and core values to reach the goal effectively.

The trait model of EI focuses on the self-perception of emotional skills. It describes EI as a personality trait rather than an ability. In this sense, people with high EI tend to introspection and self-analysis and aim to make decisions that rely on self-awareness. Such individuals highly rank their self-development, self-actualization, and conscientious behaviors (Serrat, 2017). A mixed model of EI also exists, which combines the trait and ability models. It describes EI as the presence of “self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness, and social skills” (Serrat, 2017, pp. 331-332). The mixed model empathizes that while these qualities can become part of the individual’s personality, they are learned competencies rather than innate talents. As a result, any person can learn to understand better and manage one’s emotions to thrive socially, personally, or professionally.

Due to the positive outcomes outlined above, studies link EI to higher academic achievements, leadership skills, and job performance. Effective leaders are effective communicators who know how to motivate and inspire the team. Naturally, effective communication arises from the ability to understand and sympathize with another person’s needs. It also involves attentive listening and displaying understanding. Good leaders can respond to any situation calmly and rationally instead of feeling the need to raise their voice or blame their employers for perceived failures. Furthermore, an effective leader can make tough decisions without hesitation and with conviction. They apply their EI to invoke trust in their subordinates and understand the importance of making another person feel valued and appreciated (Alilyyani et al., 2018). Setting meaningful goals for themselves allows leaders with high EI to inspire others to do the same.

My score for the EI test was 15/20, showing above-average intelligence. Based on the above outline of EI and effective leadership, one can assume that this test score signifies my potential to be an effective leader. Authentic leadership is especially vital in the healthcare industry, as many jobs require long hours and take place in high-pressure environments (Alilyyani et al., 2018). Effective leadership in healthcare promotes a healthy, empowering, and respectful environment for its employers. Healthcare work requires a high level of empathy and the ability to make often uncomfortable decisions on spot. Workers would be more encouraged to do so under leadership that promotes autonomy and offers support during challenging situations.

Per the quiz result, I agree that I possess a high degree of empathy and can readily recognize others’ emotions. These qualities aid me in communicating with others and providing support whenever necessary. Similarly, I feel competent taking on leadership or mentorship roles. However, despite the agreement with the results, the limited and trivial nature of the quiz made me question its objectivity. Many of the images were superficial representations of the ascribed emotions, and their real-life counterparts are often more nuanced. Recognizing complex emotional subtilities might present a more accurate assessment of high EI. Additionally, while reading emotions in facial expressions is one of EI’s characteristics, it only forms a portion of its full scope. Designing a questionnaire that tests emotional decision-making, empathy, and social adaptability might be a better assessment to evaluate EI.


Alilyyani, B., Wong, C. A., & Cummings, G. (2018). Antecedents, mediators, and outcomes of authentic leadership in healthcare: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 83, 34–64. Web.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8(4), 290–300. Web.

Serrat, O. (2017). Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. In: Knowledge solutions. Springer, Singapore. Web.