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How to Hire Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Emotional intelligence has emerged as a key strategy for success within the workplace, replacing the idea that an employee’s success is completely tied to their skill set. It’s not enough to simply have a wide array of “hard skills,” like being a hard worker, smart, bold, and willing to take risks. Those who are great communicators, collaborators, and who value teamwork over going at it alone have proven to be imperative to the success of workplaces. The ability to harness one’s emotions and apply empathy and awareness to interpersonal relationships equates to high emotional intelligence. This increases productivity when working within a team and builds trust and confidence between employees. A staff with high emotional intelligence is also a staff that’s adept at conflict resolution, which can lead to a huge decrease in toxic work environments.

There are five common traits that contribute to high emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills


Employees who are self-aware are able to identify and analyze emotional responses in real-time. They’re able to understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify where they’ve succeeded or where improvement is needed. Teams that possess high self-awareness are better equipped to handle criticism and internal conflict. They are also able to hold themselves and others accountable.


Being able to self-regulate means being able to control responses to emotions. Managing feelings within the workplace ensures those feelings can be expressed in healthy and positive ways, and negative emotions can be expressed properly without having an impact on others within the company. This often leads to positive and healthy workplace relationships, which in turn improves teamwork. 


Those who possess high emotional intelligence are more capable of inner motivation, which is often tied to feelings of personal accomplishment. They are capable of  meeting challenges head-on with a positive attitude and belief that they will succeed.This encourages others in the workplace to take pride in their work, as well. 


High emotional intelligence isn’t simply tied to the emotions of an individual, but the ability to understand the emotions of others. When an employee can identify the feelings of a co-worker and adapt their own practices based on that understanding, it improves internal connections and the feeling that “we’re all in this together.” This, of course, differs from harboring complacency or enabling poor performance.

Social Skills

Interpersonal relationships and communications are the keys to a healthy workplace. The innate or learned ability to foster rapport leads to respect amongst a team. Those with high emotional intelligence are also well-versed at reading the room and adapting their approach to a situation based on that. This helps make everyone on a team, or even external colleagues, more comfortable. 

Relying on hiring questionnaires to gauge emotional intelligence can help a company hire a staff full of leaders who can set up a company for success. DiSC® and Kolbe A™ are both examples of personality trait tests that can be relied on during the hiring process. 

The importance of emotional intelligence will only increase as more industries turn to automation and outsourced teams to stay competitive. The success of the workplace will depend on how well teams communicate and interact and emotionally intelligent leaders will be the key.

For guidance on leadership training and how to hire and manage well-rounded teams, contact OUTRIGGER ADVISORY GROUP and get a free consultation.