How to spot an emotionally intelligent leader in the workplace

September 12, 2017

If you have ever come across a manager with great technical skills, but who also treated their staff poorly, you probably have an understanding of what Emotional intelligence is all about. Over the years, working in the field of talent management, and now as a legal recruitment consultant, I’ve continually asked myself what the competitive edge is that differentiates the great leaders from the good ones. That is until I stumbled upon Daniel Goleman, the psychologist, who published a book titled, “What Makes a Leader.” He argues that high IQ is an “entry-level” skill for great leaders, while the most effective ones owe their success to high emotional intelligence (EI).

EI is not about being emotional or hugging your staff. It is about recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions in constructive and effective ways. EI is the ability to understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly.

As Goleman said, smarts will not compensate for a lack of the ever-important emotional and social abilities, especially within the professional world. In our world, as specialist legal recruitment professionals, we know very well that EI can directly impact the effectiveness of a leader within a legal team, and even more so, the hiring and retention of star talent for the firm or legal department.

Here are a few characteristics of emotionally intelligent (EI) leaders that help them stand out in the workplace:

  1. Self-awareness/perception:
  • They can feel their own “beat”. They know their strengths and weaknesses and their impact on others
  • They are secure, simple, open-minded, and humble
  1. Self-regulation:
  • They have a high stress tolerance as well as a calming and cheering effect on others
  • They are macro managers and know when to pick their battles
  • They are non-perfectionists, non-judgemental, and non-office politics breeders
  • They are genuinely positive, charismatic, warm, and even-toned
  1. Social awareness and empathy:
  • They have very strong “emotional wi-fi”. They naturally pick up on the emotional state, needs, and concerns of others
  • They are empathetic listeners. They capture the emotions behind the spoken words and connect with their staff at a deeper level
  • They are good judges of characters
  1. Relationship management:
  • They are available for their staff and show genuine support in times of crisis
  • They have a high vocabulary of emotional words and are easy to speak to
  • They anticipate their people’s reaction to situations and respond proactively
  • They walk the walk of work-life-balance and value flex time and telecommuting
  • They are positive change catalyst agents and practice appreciative inquiry
  • They are inspirational, engaging, and empowering. They know it’s the power of the people that makes leadership successful

Chaaya R. Jugdeb, Recruitment Associate