Emotional intelligence: A secret for leaders to skyrocket employee engagement

Kailash Ganesh
8 min read
Emotional intelligence: A secret for leaders to skyrocket employee engagement
Emotional intelligence: A secret for leaders to skyrocket employee engagement

In today's competitive business landscape, employee engagement is no longer a perk, it's a necessity. Engaged employees are more productive, miss fewer workdays, and contribute to a positive and collaborative work environment. But how do leaders achieve this elusive state of high engagement?

The answer might surprise you. It's not just about offering competitive salaries or fancy office perks. The secret weapon for skyrocketing employee engagement lies in a leader's emotional intelligence (EQ).

EQ is the ability to understand, manage, and express one's own emotions while also being adept at recognizing and responding to the emotions of others. Leaders with high EQ can build emotional intelligence and foster a sense of trust, belonging, and purpose within their teams, ultimately leading to a more engaged and successful workforce.

This blog post will delve deeper into the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) and explore how leaders can develop their EQ to unlock their employees' potential.

We'll explore the key components of EQ, provide practical tips for leaders to improve their own lack of emotional intelligence and agility, and showcase how strong EQ can transform your team dynamic and propel your business forward.

Emotional intelligence for leaders: Why is it important?

Emotional intelligence for leaders: Why is it important?
Emotional intelligence for leaders: Why is it important?

Here are the top reasons that make emotional intelligence important for leaders:

  • Effective communication: Leaders with high EQ can communicate effectively with their team members. They can understand the emotions and perspectives of others, which enables them to convey messages in a way that resonates with their audience. This facilitates better collaboration and ensures that instructions are understood and tasks are carried out efficiently.
  • Conflict resolution: Conflicts inevitably arise in any workplace environment. Leaders with strong EQ can manage conflicts constructively by empathizing with the parties involved, understanding the underlying issues, and finding solutions that satisfy all parties. This fosters a more harmonious work environment and prevents conflicts from escalating.
  • Building and maintaining relationships: Leadership is largely about relationships. Leaders who possess high EQ are adept at building rapport and fostering positive relationships with their team members, clients, and stakeholders. They understand the importance of empathy, trust, and respect in cultivating strong connections, which leads to greater loyalty and commitment from others.
  • Adaptability: In today's rapidly changing business landscape, leaders must be adaptable and resilient. EQ enables leaders to navigate uncertainty and ambiguity with ease, as they can regulate their own emotions and remain calm under pressure. This allows them to make sound decisions and lead their teams effectively through challenging situations.
  • Inspiring and motivating others: Leaders with high EQ have a deep understanding of what motivates their team members. They can recognize individual strengths and weaknesses, provide meaningful feedback, and inspire others to reach their full potential. By demonstrating empathy and understanding, they create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and motivated to excel.
  • Self-awareness and self-regulation: EQ begins with self-awareness and self-regulation. Leaders who are aware of their own emotions and how they impact their behavior are better equipped to manage themselves effectively. They can regulate their emotions in stressful situations, make rational decisions, and maintain a positive outlook, which sets a positive example for their team.

Emotional intelligence for leaders: 7 Major attributes

Leader meditating at the work
Emotional intelligence for leaders: 7 Major attributes

Emotional intelligence (EI) encompasses various attributes that are crucial for effective leadership. Here are seven major attributes of emotional intelligence for leaders in a business organization.

1. Self-awareness

This is the ability to recognize and understand one's self management, own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations.

Self-aware leaders are conscious of how their emotions influence their thoughts and behaviors, allowing them to manage themselves effectively and make decisions aligned with their values and goals.

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation involves controlling and managing one's own emotional triggers, impulses, and reactions, especially in stressful or challenging situations.

Leaders with strong self-regulation can remain calm, composed, and focused under pressure, avoiding impulsive or irrational responses and instead choosing constructive and adaptive strategies to address issues.

3. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of others. Empathetic leaders are attentive to the emotions and concerns of their team members, actively listen to their viewpoints, and demonstrate compassion and understanding.

By putting themselves in others' shoes, empathetic leaders build trust, strengthen relationships, and foster a supportive and inclusive work environment.

4. Social awareness

Social awareness involves being perceptive and attuned to the emotions and dynamics of groups or teams.

Leaders with strong social awareness are skilled at reading nonverbal cues, sensing the mood of the room, developing emotional intelligence, and understanding the collective needs and dynamics of their team.

This enables them to adapt their communication style, address conflicts effectively, and create a positive and cohesive team culture.

5. Relationship management

Relationship management encompasses technical skills and the ability to build and maintain positive and productive relationships with others.

Leaders proficient in relationship management are skilled communicators, adept at resolving conflicts, and capable of inspiring and motivating their team members. They nurture a culture of trust, collaboration, and mutual respect, which fosters high levels of engagement and performance.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity involves being genuine, transparent, and true to oneself in interactions with others. Authentic leaders are honest about their intentions, values, and emotions, which cultivates trust and credibility among their team members.

They lead with integrity, consistency, and sincerity, inspiring others to follow their example and fostering an environment where individuals feel comfortable being themselves.

7. Optimism and resilience

Optimism and resilience refer to maintaining a positive outlook and bouncing back from setbacks or failures. Leaders who embody optimism and resilience remain hopeful and resilient in the face of challenges, inspiring confidence and perseverance in their team members.

They view obstacles as opportunities for growth, learn from setbacks, and rally their team to overcome adversity, ultimately driving success even in the face of adversity.

How is emotional intelligence related to employee engagement?
How is emotional intelligence related to employee engagement?

Emotional intelligence plays a significant role in fostering employee engagement within organizations. Firstly, leaders with high EQ possess a deep understanding of their employees' needs, motivations, and aspirations.

They recognize that engaged employees are those who feel a sense of purpose, autonomy, and recognition in their work. By understanding these fundamental drivers of engagement, emotionally intelligent leaders can tailor their approach to management, creating an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Moreover, EQ facilitates the development of trust and rapport between leaders and their teams. Leaders who demonstrate empathy, active listening, and genuine concern for their employees' well-being build strong interpersonal connections.

These connections foster a sense of psychological safety within the team, where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and challenges without fear of judgment or reprisal.

As trust grows, so does employee engagement, as individuals are more likely to invest their time and energy into their work when they feel supported and respected by their leaders.

Additionally, emotionally intelligent leaders are adept at providing meaningful feedback and recognition to their employees. They understand the importance of acknowledging employees' contributions and accomplishments, which reinforces a sense of value and appreciation.

By regularly recognizing and celebrating successes, emotionally intelligent leaders boost morale, motivation, and engagement among their team members.

Overall, emotional intelligence is closely intertwined with employee engagement, as it enables leaders to understand their employees' needs, build trust and rapport, and provide meaningful feedback and recognition.

Organizations that prioritize the development of EQ among their leaders are more likely to cultivate a culture of engagement, resulting in higher levels of productivity, job satisfaction, and retention among their employees.

What are the 4 skills of emotional intelligence a leader should possess?

What are the 5 skills of emotional intelligence a leader should possess?
What are the 4 skills of emotional intelligence a leader should possess?

The four key skills an emotionally intelligent leader of business organizations should possess are:

  1. Adaptability: In today's rapidly changing world, adaptability is essential for leadership success. Emotionally intelligent leaders can flexibly adjust their plans, strategies, and approaches in response to new information or unexpected challenges. They embrace change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
  2. Inspirational leadership: Leaders with emotional intelligence have the ability to inspire and motivate others towards a common vision or goal. They articulate a compelling vision, communicate it effectively, and lead by example. Their passion and optimism inspire enthusiasm and commitment among team members.
  3. Emotional resilience: Leadership often involves facing adversity, setbacks, and criticism. Emotionally intelligent leaders possess resilience, allowing them to bounce back from setbacks, maintain a positive outlook, and persevere in pursuit of their goals. They view challenges as opportunities for learning and growth, and they support their team members in building their own resilience.
  4. Feedback and coaching: Effective leaders provide constructive feedback and guidance to help their team members grow and develop professionally. They deliver feedback with empathy and sensitivity, focusing on behaviors and outcomes rather than personal characteristics. They also mentor and coach individuals to help them reach their full potential.

Emotional intelligence for leaders: 17 Questions to ask your employees improve leadership’s EQ

Employees are standing next to a giant question mark
Emotional intelligence for leaders: 17 Questions to ask your employees improve leadership’s EQ

Assessing and improving emotional intelligence in leadership is crucial for fostering a positive work environment and enhancing team performance. Here are 17 questions leaders can ask their employees to measure and improve their leadership's EQ:

  1. How well do you feel understood and supported by me as your leader?
  2. Do you feel comfortable expressing your ideas, concerns, and emotions openly with me?
  3. How effectively do you think I manage my own emotions and reactions in challenging situations?
  4. Do you believe I demonstrate empathy and understanding towards your experiences and perspectives?
  5. How would you rate my ability to listen actively and attentively during our interactions?
  6. Do you feel recognized and appreciated for your contributions and efforts?
  7. How do you perceive my communication style? Is it clear, respectful, and inclusive?
  8. How do you feel about the level of trust and transparency in our team or organization?
  9. How well do you think I handle conflicts and disagreements within the team?
  10. Do you believe I effectively encourage collaboration and teamwork among team members?
  11. How do you feel about the level of morale and motivation within our team?
  12. Do you think I provide sufficient opportunities for professional growth and development?
  13. How would you rate my ability to remain calm and composed under pressure?
  14. Do you feel inspired and motivated by my leadership style?
  15. How well do you think I balance assertiveness with flexibility and adaptability?
  16. How do you perceive my commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive work culture?
  17. Are there any specific areas where you believe I could improve my leadership approach to better support you and the team?


Measuring and improving emotional intelligence (EI) among leaders is essential for creating a supportive and productive work environment. By asking employees targeted questions that assess various aspects of EI, leaders can gain valuable insights into their strengths and areas for development.

These questions provide a framework for fostering open communication, building trust, and strengthening relationships within the team or organization. By actively listening to employee feedback and taking steps to enhance their EQ and leadership skills, leaders can cultivate a leadership approach that prioritizes empathy, understanding, and collaboration.

Ultimately, investing in the development of EQ among leaders not only improves individual performance but also contributes to a positive organizational culture, higher employee engagement, and overall success.

By fostering self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication, leaders can create a more supportive and engaging work environment.

CultureMonkey's pulse survey offers an invaluable resource for leaders looking to cultivate emotional intelligence among their teams.

With its real-time feedback and anonymous communication channels, CultureMonkey empowers leaders to gain deeper insights into their team's emotional dynamics and tailor their leadership approach accordingly.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.