the shape of leadership

Five Ways Emotional Intelligence Improves Leadership

How improving your EQ helps you and your ministry

Influence Magazine on August 9, 2018

Emotional intelligence has become a topic of leadership development in recent years. But not everyone knows exactly what it is. It’s a mistake to think that being emotionally intelligent just means not having any emotions. It’s really about managing the natural emotions you have.

In his recent book, Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs defines emotional intelligence as “an awareness of our emotions and the emotions of others around us so that we can handle well our emotions and theirs … with the result that we relate in a Christlike manner with those within or outside the body of faith.”

In essence, emotional intelligence is about walking in the Spirit, making disciples and leading the church. Here are five ways emotional intelligence can be a powerful tool for any leader:

1. Heightened Self-Control

Among the list of spiritual fruit in Galatians 5:22­-23 is self-control. It’s the ability to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in any setting. Humans are emotional beings. So any exercise of self-control must include managing our feelings.

Emotional intelligence begins by recognizing our emotions, understanding their root cause and then responding appropriately. When we realize we are becoming overly emotional, we can step back and assess the situation. When we know why we feel the way we do, we can develop a better strategy. Then we can move forward with a good response that produces the best results. That’s the definition of self-control.

In essence, emotional intelligence is about walking in the Spirit, making disciples and leading the church.

2. Increased Empathy

Not only do emotionally intelligent leaders understand their own emotions, they can interpret the emotions of others. They read past the outward signs and find what’s going on beneath the surface.

Emotional intelligence requires empathy. Sympathy is seeing someone else’s pain, joy or discomfort. But empathy goes deeper. It’s the ability to view a situation from another person’s perspective, and even share their emotions on some level. Leaders who have more empathy will more easily relate to others, motivate them and gain their trust.

3. Boosted Morale

With higher emotional intelligence comes greater social awareness. You will be able to gauge your team members, recognizing when they are approaching a wall or when they are ready for the next challenge. Understanding their emotions allows you to stay ahead of the curve.

When you respond to their emotional state with care and empathy, the whole team can feel it. Morale increases when people know they have a leader who understands them and wants the best for them.

4. Reduced Conflict

With better social awareness comes the ability to sense conflict. When that happens, emotionally intelligent leaders step in quickly, respond decisively and reconcile relationships.

Every team will have conflict. It’s not about avoiding it; rather, it’s about responding to it appropriately. That takes knowledge of situations and the wisdom of experience but also the power of emotional intelligence.

5. Well-Defined Vision

Emotionally intelligent leaders can communicate more effectively. They can see immediately how people are responding to their words rather than letting their own thoughts or opinions distract them. They take criticism well and channel it into creativity.

When you communicate well, your vision becomes more clearly defined. And a well-defined vision is easier to follow. Soon, others will want to help you pursue the dream God put in your heart.

Jesus demonstrated emotional intelligence in all He did. If we want to point people to Him, we must reflect His nature and character. So, why not start increasing your emotional intelligence today? There are useful online assessments that can get you started. But the most important first step is asking God to help you grow in this area as you study and apply His Word.


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