7 Signs You’re an Emotionally Intelligent Boss
“It’s no surprise he’s the CEO,” I said to my coworker as we left an annual meeting pumped up to tackle the upcoming year.
The guy I was talking about was an engineer who could also deal with people extremely well. Those of you in any technical business know the rarity of this combination.
Most successful people have one or the other, either a technical mind or a genuinely likable personality. But this guy had both as many CEOs do.
What made him a good leader though was more how he spoke to people. How he cared about them. How he motivated them. We didn’t care as much about how technically proficient he was.
This sentiment is common which is good news for all of us.
We can all be better leaders because being a successful leader is partially determined by IQ, but mostly determined by a more fluid and trainable emotional intelligence (EI).
EI, measured as your Emotional Quotient (EQ), is simply more important than IQ for success as a leader.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman told Harvard Business Review:
“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence.”
Being in various leadership positions in military, corporate, and volunteer positions for 25 years, the best leaders I’ve ever met were on the mid to upper end of average for intellect, but they could inspire a turtle to climb out of his shell and understood how the turtle felt doing so.
Here are 7 signs that you’re a leader with the most enviable quality of having a high EQ.
1. You Walk Your Emotional Dog
Oxford Languages defines emotional intelligence is as:
The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
I think of my emotions as my pet dog. As long as I walk the dog and keep him on a leash, everything falls into its proper order. He may pull me a little in a direction he wants to go, but I can choose whether we go that way or not. On the other hand, when I’ve let my dog pull me around or let him off the leash, then things start to go wrong.
I also pay attention when he barks. Emotions always have something to tell us, but we can’t let the messenger be our boss.
An emotionally intelligent boss controls, but also respects and listens to their pet dog named emotion.
2. You Can Feel Emotions
All emotionally intelligent leaders are at least at some level an empath. An empath is simply defined as:
One who experiences the emotions of others.
Empathy is important because it is the gateway to high EI.
As a boss with developed EI, you can easily feel when your teams is frustrated, angry, defeated, or thrilled. Low EI bosses are clueless unless someone spells it out to them with a resignation letter.
Emotional intelligence enables a boss to use empathy to find someone emotionally — and someone can only be led if you know where to find them.
3. You Know How People Perceive You
Being socially aware of how you’re perceived is critical to success as a leader. When you know this, you can adjust actions, attitudes, and approaches accordingly to optimize results.
Social awareness can be defined as:
“The ability to know and feel the people around you and the ability to interact with them in the most efficient and proper manner.”
Some bosses are oblivious to the fact their people are miserable. They carry on as if nothing differently is happening. Maybe externally there isn’t, but a boss with low EQ simply can’t pick up on the emotional signals of their team.
True listening is a trait of high EQ leaders. The more you care — then ask — then listen, the more people will respond to you with honesty and trust.
4. You Are Difficult to Offend
High EQ bosses are sensitive to people’s feelings, but they are also very selective in how they let other people affect theirs.
Like point #1 above, part of keeping your emotions on a leash means keeping them protected from the actions of other dogs on the walk. If you let your dog loose to meet another person’s snarling dog of emotion, then usually a bloodbath follows and the two owners are left feuding with each other.
An emotionally intelligent boss doesn’t get easily offended because they are protective of their emotions and also selective in when and how they release them to others.
5. You Can Nip Conflict in the Bud
A boss with high EQ can smell the rain of emotional storms hours before they arrive. They sense trouble brewing, anger festering, and frustration building.
Then they calmly diffuse the growing tension with acts of wisdom.
If tension is between two employees, they have them work it out in moderated discussion. If it’s between an employee and them, they ask then listen hard. If it’s with a customer, they make it right before they have to.
An emotionally intelligent boss is proactive in tending the social garden so weeds of conflict don’t take over.
6. You Have a Developed Emotional Vocabulary
The ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself” has always been a key success in navigating life whether at work or home.
A high EQ boss knows their own triggers, emotions, preferences, attitudes, and can often name them.
Developing an emotional vocabulary is key to higher EQ. If you can identify an emotion and name it, you can more aptly deal with its root cause or symptoms.
Nalanda Internation School suggests emotional vocabulary is the secret to boosting your EQ. Low EQ is often directly correlated to limited emotional vocabulary.
A high EQ boss can name how they and how others feel so they can then do something about it.
7. You Genuinely Care About Your People
You are curious about them. Your empathy makes you want to know them and know how they feel. You care about their goals, future, their families, and their well-being.
When you genuinely do this, people feel it and they respond with loyalty. They know they have a boss who cares about them personally.
I’ve always loved this guidance from John Gray:
“Managers should legitimately care about each person he or she manages. If you invest your time, effort, and energy in helping people, they will be able to develop personally and professionally. You’ll also be tuned in to their goals and aspirations. As a result, employees are happier and better at their jobs.”
High EQ leaders know that people can feel when they are cared about and they respond by caring more about what they do and being happier about working for you.
Being emotionally intelligent as a boss means you know how to harness emotions to steer things in a positive direction. You are a conductor of emotions.
The final part of being emotionally intelligent is being positive and optimistic.
A boss with high emotional intelligence chooses optimism, encouragement, and a positive attitude because they know the highest walls can only be scaled by people when they are lifted up.
So listen, care, and empathize with your team. Lift them up.
And keep that dog on a leash as you pet him.
When you do these things, you are not just a boss, but an emotionally intelligent leader people love to follow.