Does Having Emotional Intelligence Actually Make You A Better Leader? Or Is It A Myth?

According to Psychology Today, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

It is generally said to include 3 skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

That being said, EQ is not a recent phenomenon. EQ has been researched and studied for decades. However, some scientists and researchers have deemed this concept as a myth and work-related competencies have little to do with emotional intelligence. Other research articles place a huge importance on EQ as there is an interconnection between intelligence and emotion.

The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is a series of 4 branches to measure EQ. Branch 1 measures Perceiving Emotions, Branch 2 measures Using Emotions to Facilitate Thought, Branch 3 measures Understanding Emotions, and Branch 4 measures Managing Emotions. The test was conducted in various organizations, and the results revealed complexity across career levels. 59 senior level executives were tested and the results revealed career tracks going up the corporate ladder, and in which EQ skills are not central or necessary, EQ may decline. However, those on the lower end of the organization and who had more of a direct relationship with their manager, valued high EQ in their leaders. EQ was also ranked highly by those who deal directly with customers (Collins, 2001).

As research shows, how EQ affects you as a leader is varied. Naturally, different leadership personalities are needed and fit better in different organizations and job positions.

But let’s say EQ is highly important to you, your team, and your career. How can understanding and practicing emotional intelligence make you a better leader?

  • Develop better listening skills
  • Decrease in interpersonal conflict (goodbye passive-aggressive quips!)
  • Build up team members and develop leadership skills
  • Successful partnerships with co-workers
  • More effective communication
  • Contemplate others’ point-of-views before hastily making decisions

Knowledge of finance, marketing, medicine, strategies, etc are technical skills that can be learned and taught. Emotional skills and knowing how to effectively influence those around you are typically inherited, however with practice and dedication, EQ can be developed. EQ falls under the category of “soft skills”, and these skills are what hiring professionals look for in a potential leader. And in today’s job market, where teamwork and collaboration is necessary for success, mastering EQ will make you an asset!


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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