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  • Writer's pictureTopsie VandenBosch, LMSW

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: Why is it Important in Business & Entrepreneurship?

CEOs aren't born with the skills they need to lead their teams. They develop them.

And one of the skills that I'll be discussing in this blog post that CEOs have to develop in order to effectively lead their team- is the skill of emotional intelligence.

I know that as business owners- the word "emotional intelligence" has become a buzz word.

*Insert eyeroll here*

Everyone thinks they “have’ emotional intelligence- as if its a trait that you're inherently born with. But the gag is- you're not born with it. You have to develop emotionally intelligent leadership- like the muscle it is.

And the truth is that although many of us *can* develop emotional intelligence skills- we often don’t take the time to do it.

Why? Because when you think of emotional intelligence skills- you probably think of vague and nuanced examples that aren't specific or measurable.

Maybe when you've thought about someone having or demonstrating emotionaI intelligence- it looked like:

  • someone's ability to read the room;

  • their ability to regulate their emotions

  • how well they responded to conflict

  • the maturity in the way they expressed their emotions.

Which are all accurate characteristics- but they don't tell the full story.

These are tangential, random behaviors that aren't organized in a cohesive way that may not be an actual reflection, or measure of a persons' demonstration of emotional intelligence.

But when you use a model of measuring emotional intelligence that's been scientifically researched, backed by evidence and includes skills & behaviors that are observable and demonstrable- that's when you have a better understanding of what it means for a person to demonstrate emotional intelligence.

Thats when it's no longer a buzzword- and it becomes a practice.

In full disclosure- throughout this blog post, I’ll be exclusively using and referring to the Genos Leadership Model of emotional intelligence.

This model identifies 6 core leadership skills that are important for effectively perceiving, expressing, and managing emotions.

I received my Emotional Intelligence Practitioner Certification through Genos, because I found their model to be one of the best out there.

So from this blog post- you're going to walk away understanding what emotional intelligence is, why its important in the way you lead your company- and how you can start improving your emotional intelligence in Ieadership.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage the emotions within yourself and others.

Dr Ben Palmer and Professor Con Stough are the masterminds that developed the Genos Model of Emotional Intelligence- and their research asserts that are 6 core competencies that demonstrate what leaders do when they lead others:

  1. Inspiring Performance

  2. Self Management

  3. Emotional Reasoning

  4. Authenticity

  5. Awareness of Others

  6. Self-Awareness.

6 Components of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Self Awareness

This is a leader's ability to be aware of themselves and others. They also:

  • Recognize their strengths and limitations

  • Understand how this translates to their leadership skills and how they relate to the people around them.

  • Have a deep insight into their behaviors

  • Don't make excuses for the decisions they make.

  • Are more likely to have empathy for the people that work in close proximity to them- and this skill makes them more desirable to work under and with.

For example- have you ever had a colleague or an interaction with someone that didn't realize how rude they came across when they spoke to you or others?

Well- that's an example of a person who isn't demonstrating the skill of self-awareness.

This will or probably has cost them friendships, connections, and opportunities- and if they're a business owner- they've more than likely lost revenue because of it.

Because who wants to do business with someone who isn't aware of how their actions affect others?

Inspiring Performance

A leader that's able to:

  • influence and facilitate the performance of others-

  • Learn what motivates their team to be successful personally (learning their personal/career goals)

  • Understands what motivates them for success extrinsically (external rewards for their progress)

  • knows how to bring the best qualities out of people on their team

  • empower people to perform

  • & you recognize them for their efforts

  • address where they are struggling

  • inspires performance.

…are all key indicators of a leader who is able to inspire the performance of others.

Choosing to only rely on making sure that your team is adhering to KPIs- is a snoozefest, and isn't sustainable for long-term success.

For example- think about what it takes for a person to want to work out with a fitness coach.

One of the reasons that people show up their workouts with their fitness coach, for example- is because they paid for them. They have skin in the game.

They're showing up because there's an internal motivating factor that makes them desire to be consistent. They have a why.

  • Maybe it's their desire to walk down the aisle without being out of breath with family members,

  • maybe it's so that they aren't diagnosed with hypertension like their parent that died from it.

  • maybe they continue to show up because of how they feel in their bodies after they complete the workout.

No matter what the reason is- there’s another contributing factor causing them to show up for their workouts- which is inspiring their performance and discipline.

Self Management

A CEO's ability to manage their mood, emotions, and behaviors- is one that can be trusted to respond to chaos well.

Your ability to effectively manage how your emotions are displayed and control how it affects the rooms that you're in- is a sign of self-management.

According to Genos- when a CEO is able to bounce back from adversity and not allow it to derail their emotions and their plans- this describes a person that is resilient.

When a CEO is easily shaken up when the unexpected happens, and isn't able to hold it together and negatively impacts others around them with their reactions- this CEO is seen as temperamental.

Here’s an example: think of a boss you have had who changed the atmosphere of any room they were in- but not in a good way.

This is the boss who sucks the air out of every room they're in- and you never know what type of mood they'll be in or how it'll impact everyone around them.

This is an example of a CEO demonstrating poor self-management skills.

Emotional Reasoning

A CEO's ability to make decisions from a combination of logic + emotion ultimately leads to better decision-making. Why?

Because when you only make decisions from a place of logic (data + facts)- you can miss important nuances and additional context that might eliminate that decision from being the best one.

For example, when a CEO:

  • Considers the emotional impact of their decision

  • potential fallout;

  • How the decision will affect the people youre leading-

  • Combines the logic + data to back their decision;

  • Doesn’t make decisions hastily-

Youre demonstrating that you understand the importance of how your team and people around you will be affected by your decision.

Your ability to combine emotions + logic in the decision you make- is a firm foundation from which you can base your decisions, and demonstrates emotionally intelligent leadership.

For example- when a business owner receives feedback that a service or a project they completed didn't meet the client's expectations- one of the first reactions that many CEOs struggle with is taking it personally.

Especially if they don't agree with the feedback.

When someone receives feedback that “feels” personal- it can be tempting to:

  • cave to whatever demands or feedback the client gave-

  • just to address the issue so that it goes away;

  • Overreact and not take into consideration other perspectives.

But what happens when that business owner becomes curious instead- and takes into consideration others’ feedback and suggestions while taking their time to come to a balanced decision?

A better outcome occurs. This demonstrates the power of using emotional reasoning.


According to Genos, when a CEO is demonstrating authenticity- they are trustworthy.

When you can trust that a person is being honest about who they are, what they believe, and how they feel- this is a sign that they can be trusted.

This is where understanding how to communicate effectively, and the willingness to be forthcoming about your true feelings, desires and intentions comes into play.

Your ability to be:

  • truthful with the people you're surrounded by about how you really feel;

  • clear and direct in your communication style;

  • Avoid skating around what you really want to say- an example of a CEO who demonstrates authenticity.

Think of a previous manager you’ve had, who was hardly ever forthcoming about what their personal or professional opinions were about their job?

Who seemed robotic- and never revealed their true feelings about anything or anyone- even in a professional and appropriate way?

You probably hesitated to share things with them, right? Maybe you didn’t trust them- because you thought it was likely that they would screw you over in the end or blindside you the first chance they got? Sounding familiar lol?

Regardless of whether they would actually screw you over- the truth is that their ability to be authentic and real about who they are and what they believe- affected your ability to trust them.

At our core- we crave realness and honesty from the people around us, and so if you're not experiencing that with someone- it's only natural that you keep your distance.

Awareness of Others

When a leader is aware of how people are doing around them, and they take the time to recognize them, encourage them, and show them that they're valued- this demonstrates their awareness of others.

This also shows that the leader is empathetic to what other people are going through and what they need.

According to GENOS- when a leader doesn’t take into account how a person's emotional state or well-being affects their performance- it demonstrates their insensitivity to others' needs.

A good example of this is when you experience an unexpected tragedy or event that affects your ability to perform at your best at work. Imagine if your boss, after you heard the news- still expected your performance to remain the same-without regard for how you might be feeling. How would you react?

It would probably feel crappy for your boss not to empathize or show you that they see you, right?

And look- It’s not about them extending “extra favors” to you, or them feeling sorry for you.

It's about their ability to acknowledge that because you experienced something emotionally difficult- (and you're a fellow human)- it could be helpful for them to ask what you need in order to feel supported.

Being able to show your humanity to your employees/team members/clients- is what contributes to people feeling safe to be in a relationship and proximity with you.

How does emotionally intelligent leadership translate to/affect business & entrepreneurship?

According to Gallup-Only 34% of employees strongly agree that their manager gives them recognition when they do good work.

It can be assumed that this also translates to what the Pew Research Center’s found in their study- which is that 57% of employees said that they left their job because they felt disrespected.

Both of these statistics show that emotionally intelligent leadership affects your ability to run a successful business and keep your employees. Furthermore- these stats also demonstrate the Genos EQ leadership competencies of inspiring performance and having the awareness of others on your team as being important qualities as a leader.

When you know how to inspire performance amongst your team members- and you're able to recognize the type of encouragement your team members need in order to thrive- employees are happier and enjoy working under your leadership more.

Some other additional benefits of having emotional intelligence in business are that you are more likely to:

  • Be Calm Under Pressure: When a business owner demonstrates the competencies of Emotional Reasoning + Self Management- it supports their ability to stay calm under pressure- and not make decisions from an emotional place. TalentSmart EQ conducted research on this topic and found that high performers who used EQ were able to better manage their emotions under pressure.

  • Admit When You’re Wrong: When a business owner demonstrates the competencies of Self Awareness & Awareness of Others- it supports their ability to not only recognize when they make mistakes- but also to admit when they’re at fault and apologize.

  • Have reduced team members/employee turnover: The ability to not only attract talent- but also keep great talent, is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. But when CEOs use the emotional intelligence competencies of leadership- it can transform the company culture and lead to their team members staying longer. Especially since the 2020 State of Workplace Empathy Study- they found that many HR professionals believe that empathy can lead to a better working environment, resulting in 54% lower turnover rates and 74% motivated employees.

So I know after reading alladat- you’re dying to know how you can start the journey of developing your EQ in your leadership. Well i gotchu. As indicated in this blog post- I’ll be referencing the model of Emotional Intelligence used by Genos International- who I received my Emotional Intelligence Practitioner Certification through.

How to Start improving your Emotional Intelligence

Inspiring Performance

This doesn’t need to be difficult-so start simple. Ask your employees/team members what their professional goals are- and what motivates them to excel. When you understand their why- it can help with matching them with projects and responsibilities that are commensurate with their goals and excites them.

Self Management

Your ability to manage your emotions when youre having a bad day matters. Don’t allow for other people who have to work closely with you to feel the brunt of your emotions. Its not their fault. Learn the skill of healthy compartmentalization, communicating your needs on bad days, and using coping skills that help reduce your cortisol levels and regulate your emotions.

Inside of my Mindset Reset Intensive- this is the place that CEOs come when theyre ready to learn the emotional skills they need in order to manage their emotions better inside of their business- which affects your ability to have the success you desire inside of your business. Apply here.

Emotional Reasoning

Just because the data shows it- doesn’t mean it tells the full story. Balancing emotions + logic/data will support you in making the best decisions possible. Relying on one or the other, but not both, can prevent you from seeing the full picture, and can cause you to prematurely jump the gun on important decisions. Give yourself time to look at the full picture before jumping to make a decision.

If you find that you need more support in learning how to develop your emotional reasoning- this is exactly what I help CEOs do inside of my Mindset Reset Intensive. This is a 2-hour session, where you’ll have clarity on the top emotional skills missing from how you run your business- that's caused you to make decisions based on emotions instead of emotions + data. Inside of this session, you’ll complete a Leadership Intelligence Audit- where you will understand your unique strengths and areas for growth+ improvement as a CEO- and it's impacting your bottom line inside of your business. Apply here.


Say what you mean, and mean what you say. When you struggle with people pleasing others, it can cause you to tell a small piece of how you feel- but not the fully story, resulting in people not feeling like they can trust you completely. Oftentimes- the struggle that many CEOs have with being truly authentic and real about how they feel is rooted in past experiences of times where they were honest- and the feedback they received from it that negatively impacted them. This can also be rooted in people-pleasing behaviors.

Both of these reasons are issues that I address with CEOs inside of the Mindset Reset Intensive. Inside of this 2-hour session (that includes 2 week of ongoing daily support as needed afterwards)- we’ll not only uncover the underlying reason why being authentic is difficult for you in leadership- but you’ll also discover the emotional skills that are missing from your leadership toolbox that lead to you not being fully authentic with others in your leadership. Apply here.

Awareness of Others

Ask your clients and team members how they're doing in their personal lives, and if theres anything they need from you that will support you in being able to serve them better. This is not an invitation to be dumped on emotionally- but when phrased effectively, it allows for you to be empathetic of what could be coming up for them thats affecting their work for you or with you.

If you decide to work with me in long-term 1:1 emotional intelligence coaching & consulting-, that's where you’ll discover how being aware of how your team members or clients are doing emotionally, has contributed positively or negatively to their experience in working with you. You’ll benefit from an emotional intelligence leadership assessment- both assessing your own leadership skills and feedback from your team members about their experience of your leadership. So- if you're a CEO that has had more turnover than usual, and maybe even received less than stellar feedback about their leadership from employees/team members/or clients upon their exit from working with you- its a sign that this is a competency that could be developed more. Apply to work with me 1:1 here.


Being willing to be vulnerable and ask for feedback on your leadership in a constructive way- both from direct reports, employees, or clients- helps you in being more self-aware.

Not surprisingly- many CEOs run from doing this, because it feels scary, and they're afraid of being ripped to shreds, embarrassed, or ashamed. But fostering self-awareness doesn't need to involve any of those things.

In fact, when you decide to work with me in a 1:1 coaching/consulting capacity- you’ll learn how to determine and ask for constructive feedback from those you are in close contact with daily, and how to apply that feedback to your leadership in a sustainable way that doesn’t leave you feeling like a constant failure. Because you’re not. You’re a leader who cares about how others perceive you, and it only helps you grow and develop these leadership skills more.

Additionally-constant or routine self-reflection is also important is fostering the competency of self-awareness. Looking at all the feedback that you receive, the impact of your words and their delivery on others, and how your leadership makes others feel- are all helpful ways to start developing your EQ in this area.


As you can see- emotional intelligence isn’t a buzzword. It's a way of being- that involves action and continued self-reflection- and recognizing that you're not perfect, and you never will be. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that I see that CEOs have about developing EQ. When you choose to go on the journey of developing your EQ, you are consciously choosing to be vulnerable. You are actively choosing to go against what your ego desires-which is to always be right and to never make mistakes. The problem with that is perfection is an illusion. In my experience of working with many CEOs of successful companies for several years- your willingness to be wrong, not have all the answers all the time, and to be assertive but also humble in your leadership- is easier said than done. But this is what makes a great, well-rounded leader- and I can’t wait to support you in doing this if you decide to also go on this journey too. Apply to work with me here on this- and watch your leadership skills transform and change.


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