The Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Authentic Leadership

January 12, 2018


Modern leadership styles are transforming. This is in part due to a change in cultural norms, while for others, these changes have stemmed from the experience of authentically leading a team and finding success while doing so. We’ve moved away from removed leadership, with managers who had little interaction with the team members they were expected to manage, to a transparent leadership style.


This open, collaborative, and communicative leadership style defines what is known as “authentic leadership”. These leaders can manage teams through impactful communication, and nurture professional relationships with team members through honesty, fairness, and an understanding of the unique characteristics of each individual.


Authentic leadership isn’t always a natural state of being. In reality, authentic leaders train themselves to be more empathetic, compassionate, and aware of both themselves and others. These skills encompass healthy emotional intelligence (EI), and are the building blocks of authentic leadership.


The Characteristics of an Authentic Leader


The shift from autocratic management to authentic leadership means that the workplace culture is more team-based and engaging than ever. There are certain characteristics of a leader with high EI skills, and in turn, who manages to lead teams authentically and effectively.


These characteristics include:


Effective Communication Skills

Although a leader or manager may have a high IQ or powerful degree, these qualifications mean nothing without well-rounded EI skills. Effective communication is a combination of listening, understanding, and talking to both employees and peers.

This effective communication means that they take the time to listen during meetings, striving to understand the points made by an employee during a one-on-one session. During these conversations, an authentic leader asks leading questions to tease out the thoughts and feelings of their employee, generating understanding and employee engagement along the way.

They’re Open and Accessible

Being open-minded and accessible to employees can make a large-scale impact on your organization. Authentic leaders understand that for employees to be fully engaged in their work and workplace culture, they need to know where the organization is presently, and where the leaders plan to take it in the future. These leaders are accessible to their employees for both positive and difficult conversations, and make it known that they’re always ready to listen.


They’re Honest and True to Themselves

During difficult times in an organization, leaders may feel the need to retreat into themselves to deal with problematic situations. However, this action creates a divide between leadership and team members and can further the scope of an issue simply due to a lack of understanding.


When authentic leaders are faced with workplace-related issues, they choose to show up as their true selves. They lead teams through struggles not only with open communication, but with an open mind and open heart.


Where Emotional Intelligence and Authentic Leadership Overlap


Cultivating emotional intelligence skills and becoming a more authentic leader go hand-in-hand. Increasingly, authentic leaders are embracing the benefits of high emotional intelligence, and striving to implement new habits and skills that can help better their performance of an authentic leader.


EI skills, also referred to as “soft skills” are essential for organizations and leaders who want to create best-in-class teams and results.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence Skills for Well-Rounded Leadership


The modern business environment thrives when authentic leaders are paving the way towards success. These leaders emphasize healthy workplace relationships, communication, and understanding.

For leaders who want to develop these “soft skills” to become more authentic and motivated in their leadership roles, these skills can be developed through cultivating healthy habits and training the mind.


Inspired leaders can use some of these tips to begin developing their EI skills today:


  • Start paying attention to employees by practicing active listening, effective communication, and asking leading questions.

  • Make note of the emotional triggers of both your employees and yourself.

  • Recognize your emotional responses in the workplace, and begin to regulate these responses to yield more positive outcomes.


Leaders can also invest in improving their EI skills to show up in the workplace more authentically through executive, 1-on-1 coaching sessions. By gaining an understanding of your own EI, you can inspire your team members to be more authentic in the workplace, too.


Our team at EI Advantage wants to help you develop your EI skills and find success in the workplace. For more information about upcoming EI training sessions or booking your next executive coaching session, get in touch today on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.



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