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The true impact of emotional intelligence

What is emotional intelligence, and why is it important for leaders?

Truly extraordinary leadership goes beyond management and results. True leadership is about building a team that is genuinely aligned in their mission. It means understanding oneself and others deeply in order to build relationships based on trust, and to create environments where employees thrive. It is the ability to connect, inspire and unite a team effectively. This is where emotional intelligence comes in.

“Emotional intelligence is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ skill; it’s a ‘must-have’ for leaders in today’s dynamic business landscape.”

Daniel Goleman, renowned expert on emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the bedrock of effective leadership in today’s business landscape. Research shows that leaders with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace; whether someone has high EQ is the strongest predictor of their future performance. Its impact reverberates throughout teams and organisations, driving high productivity and results, as well as job satisfaction and talent retention.


High emotional intelligence leads to more effective conflict resolution, less burnout and overwhelm, and vastly improved relationships with co-workers. It is not only a critical factor in leadership and team dynamics but can also profoundly impact individuals. At Ivy House, we believe that understanding and nurturing your own emotional intelligence is the key to unlocking your full potential in both your personal and professional life.


And it seems most people agree. In our conversations with clients, emotional intelligence is coming up time and again. It’s now become a key leadership requirement. And the numbers don’t lie:

But how exactly does emotional intelligence work?

Components of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence comprises several components, with self-knowledge, self-ownership, social awareness, and intentional relationships being at its core. Let’s explore how these components manifest in individuals, and how they impact leadership:

  1. Self-knowledge
    Individuals with high EQ are more in tune with their own emotions, thoughts and behaviour. They know where their strengths lie, and are able to acknowledge and work on their weaknesses. This heightened self-awareness allows them to make better decisions and behave in a way that aligns with their values.

    Building self-awareness means going on a discovery journey to deeply understand how the mind works. It means acknowledging our unconscious programming and being aware of the deep-rooted beliefs that ultimately shape how we see ourselves and the world around us.
    Leaders with high emotional intelligence bring this awareness into the workplace, enabling them to stay calm under pressure, make informed decisions, and admit their mistakes. These leaders are acutely aware of their own emotions and reactions, and how these have the power to impact others.

    Building self-awareness also allows leaders to recognise that the way they see things is not the only way. As Maya Angelou wisely said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” By acknowledging that they are on their own journey of self-improvement, leaders can create a culture of authenticity within their teams, and encourage people to let go of their egos. This ultimately allows for creativity and innovation to thrive, as people feel safe to let go of the need to get things right.

  2. Self-ownership
    Life is filled with challenges and stressors, but high-EQ individuals are better equipped to manage these pressures. While self-awareness makes people aware of their thinking and feelings, the next step is self-ownership. This is the ability to regulate and manage one’s own emotions, reactions and behaviours, and to take full accountability for the impact that these have.

    The ability to self-regulate emotions allows people to stay resilient in the face of adversity, and maintain a positive outlook even in difficult times. Effective leaders take ownership for ensuring that they don’t let their anger or frustration negatively impact their team or organisation.
    And, most importantly, it gives leaders the power to influence the outcome of any event, by recognising the power in themselves to choose their response. At Ivy House, we use the equation:

    Event + behaviour = result

    Leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to process an event and consciously choose their behaviour in response, based on the result that they would like to achieve. Ineffective leaders behave reactively and unconsciously – which will inevitably lead to them having less control over the outcome.

    Taking ownership for their reactions will also enable leaders to build trust within their teams, as their employees will feel safe bringing up difficult conversations. Cultivating a culture of safety and trust is vital in creating the conditions for your people to do their best work.
    And, when leaders model ownership, they set the tone for the entire workforce.
  1. Social awareness
    Once an individual develops self-awareness, they are in a far stronger position to become socially aware. This means being able to ‘read a room’; picking up on the emotions, thoughts, behaviours and beliefs of the people around them, and practising empathy with others.

    The Centre for Creative Leadership found that leaders who have social awareness and practise empathy are seen to be higher performing by their bosses, than those who do not.

    This comes down to the fact that leaders with social awareness are able to understand the feelings and perspectives of their team members. This skill enables them to connect on a deeper level, build trust, and resolve conflicts constructively. By taking time to understand the different perspectives at play, individuals will also be better able to respond well to others and achieve the desired outcome in their interactions.

    An empathetic leader fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among their employees. By building social awareness, leaders can better support their teams, as well as improve their personal impact.
  2. Intentional relationships
    Emotional intelligence fosters healthier and more fulfilling relationships. It empowers individuals to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and connect on a deeper level with other people, including colleagues.

    By developing the skills of self-awareness, self-ownership and social awareness, individuals are then able to manage their relationships in a far more conscious and effective way. At Ivy House, we call this the skill of creating ‘intentional relationships’ and it is the final component in building high emotional intelligence.

    High EQ leaders excel in interpersonal relationships. They communicate effectively, inspire their teams, and create a collaborative atmosphere where everyone’s contributions are valued. Their ability to influence and motivate drives organisational success. They are also far better prepared to have the types of coaching conversations that are key to unlocking potential within their teams, consequently decreasing the amount of
    time wasted through unaddressed tension and conflict.

“In a high-EQ team, each member feels valued and understood, contributing their best selves to the collective effort.”

Brené Brown, renowned researcher on vulnerability and empathy

Why emotional intelligence matters in teams

Emotional intelligence is not only key for individuals and leaders to master. It is something that deeply impacts the performance and culture of teams, as well as whole organisations.

High-performing teams are not just a collection of skilled individuals; they are groups of people who understand and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

At Ivy House, we recognise that the foundation of such teams lies in the collective emotional intelligence of their members. Increasing this collective emotional intelligence in your teams and organisation will have a hugely beneficial effect leading to achievements beyond individual capabilities.
Here are some of the ways that EQ impacts teams and organisations:

  • Conflict resolution: teams with high EQ can navigate conflicts effectively. They approach differences with empathy, active listening, and a solutions-oriented mindset. This leads to faster conflict resolution and stronger team cohesion.
  • Communication: effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful team. Members with strong emotional intelligence can express their ideas clearly and understand the unspoken emotions behind their teammates’ words. This clarity minimises misunderstandings and fosters trust.
  • Adaptability: high-EQ teams are more adaptable to change. They can embrace new challenges and opportunities with a positive outlook, knowing that they can rely on each other’s support. This adaptability is critical in a dynamic business environment.
  • Innovation: emotional intelligence encourages open-mindedness and creativity. Team members feel safe to share their ideas, knowing they won’t be judged harshly. This freedom leads to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
  • Accountability: increased awareness leads to individuals taking ownership for their actions and behaviours. This will inevitably create teams and cultures where taking accountability becomes easy. People will no longer feel the need to bury their heads in the sand, but will instead push themselves to perform at the best of their ability.

Building emotional intelligence in teams is a deliberate process. It involves fostering a culture of mutual respect and support. Organisations that collectively develop their awareness, ownership and relationship skills, will unlock their potential as a cohesive unit and will achieve results that are far beyond the capabilities of each individual.

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but… they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.”

Daniel Goleman

The ripple effect of emotional intelligence

Individuals who prioritise developing their emotional intelligence not only enhance their own effectiveness but also inspire those around them to do the same. This ripple effect can transform entire organisations, creating cultures of wellbeing, brilliant relationships and extraordinary performance.
Building emotional intelligence is a journey of self-mastery, but it is one that will happen far quicker through intentional practice and support. At Ivy House, we empower leaders and organisations to harness the power of emotional intelligence, in order to create transformational change.

If you’d like to hear more about how Ivy House develops leaders with high emotional intelligence, get in touch.

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