Emotional intelligence (EQ) and leadership qualities

Emotional intelligence (also referred to as EQ) refers to a person’s understanding of how their emotions and behaviors might affect the people around them—making it an effective leadership quality and incredibly important in the professional environment. It indicates an individual’s self-awareness and ability to understand, recognize, and react to both their own actions and the actions and emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is, therefore, a particularly beneficial quality for leadership or management roles and for working within a team. EQ also plays an integral part when building positive personal relationships and business partnerships. When you think about the diversity and background of different workplace environments, it is clear that having advanced “soft skills” and the ability to recognize certain emotions and behaviors, is essential in maintaining a strong and happy team.

Man with emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional Intelligence tests

When it comes to measuring a person’s mathematical, verbal, logical reasoning and spatial skills, IQ tests have taken center stage—and high IQ scores have often been linked to academic performance and professional success. It wasn’t until scientific journalist Daniel Goleman however, published his study on EQ that it started to find its place in the professional world and play a significant part in how we regard different leadership qualities.

An emotional intelligence test shows you several aspects of your emotional make-up and suggests ways in which you can improve. Questions one may encounter when taking an EQ test are considerably different to those of an IQ test, as there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer—instead you must provide honest and personal responses to get the most accurate result.

Example questions from an EQ test*:

  1. I understand my emotions in the moment I start to experience them (yes/no)
  2. When something unnerves me, I tend to immediately lose my temper (yes/no)
  3. I have been told that I am patient when listening to others (yes/no)

*Note: there are tests that require yes/no answers, and there are also those that use a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

Questions examine traits of character (behaviors, moods, feelings), an individual’s ability to perceive emotions via faces and pictures, their ability to understand the thoughts and motivations of others, and their competency to cope with certain situations. A score is then given for each component of the EQ test. In general, EQ tests are used to help individuals understand their strengths and weaknesses, but also to maximize their daily professional performance.

Developing EQ for personal and professional success

The successful management of personal and professional relationships can be easier for people with a high level of emotional intelligence. This may be because people with a high EQ generally understand the motives and feelings of others and are often referred to as being empathetic colleagues and good listeners. Having a high EQ has been linked to possessing leadership qualities that team members tend to value and admire in managers.

Soft skills go far these days, so if you are in a leadership position or are aspiring to be in one, there are certain factors that are important to embrace when it comes to honing excellent leadership qualities. Effective leaders possess a level of empathy that make people feel understood and appreciated. Their satisfaction lies in team success rather than personal advancement. Great leaders understand and value their employees and invest their time in building relationships.

At times it can be difficult to put personal prejudices aside, especially when someone comes to you with a perspective that is different to your own. It can also be taxing to listen with an open mind when what the other person is saying goes against your values and beliefs. The important thing to remember is that the role of a leader is not to dictate how others should think and act, but to create a cooperative and productive working environment. This can only be done by advocating trust and respect.

The more you develop your EQ, the easier this will become.

Woman demonstrating emotional intelligence and leadership qualities

How to take your leadership qualities to a higher level:

A person with a high level of emotional intelligence has a good grasp of their emotions because they can manage them in any given situation, including stressful ones. They can also approach a situation from various perspectives, which helps to make people feel heard and understood. Try these tips to elevate your EQ:

  • Learn about yourself first. You cannot lead unless you know your emotions and your triggers.
  • Ask for feedback and utilize it constructively. Criticism can help you to grow and develop, so try not to take it personally.
  • Listen with an open mind and look at things from an objective perspective.
  • Foster an environment where others can share their viewpoints.
  • Understand your company and its culture.
  • Build and nurture relationships.
  • Acknowledge people’s need and feelings.

How is emotional intelligence measured?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is measured differently to the type of intelligence that is measured in a standard IQ test. Instead of analyzing a person’s ability to solve logic problems, it evaluates their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. EQ can be trained and developed with practice and application. According to Positive Psychology, there are several branches of emotion that an EQ test can measure, and it is important to note that some focus on very specific areas, while others, aim to encapsulate elements of all.

Ability-based tests: These tests measure an individual’s ability to make connections between thoughts and emotions.

Characteristics-based tests: These tests measure emotional and social intelligence—such as a person’s ability to recognize, express and understand one’s own emotions and the emotions of others.

Competency-based tests: These tests measure self-knowledge, self-management, social consciousness, and relationship management.

Behaviour-based tests: These tests focus on peer-reviewed research which rates an individual’s ability to demonstrate emotionally intelligent behavior in the workplace.

While there are many different varieties of EQ tests, the score-breakdown is largely centered around providing an individual with a personalized report that focuses on the different elements of their emotional make-up. These often include testing an individual’s ability to handle stressful situations and their skills when it comes to dealing with setbacks or disappointments. Some tests also measure an individual’s ability to take ownership and responsibility, particularly in relation to scenarios that involve leadership. Nearly all EQ tests focus on a person’s level of empathy and understanding when it comes to diversity and cultural sensitivities.