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When you think of what makes a leader outstanding, what are the qualities that come to mind? Inspiring, motivational, displays high integrity, honest, powerful communicator were some of the answers found when Harvard Business Review surveyed over 300,000 leaders to identify the top leadership skills. The study found that six of the top eight skills relate to emotional intelligence (EQ), whereas only two relate to IQ.

We performed our own global research with our 2020 State of Emotional Intelligence Report to find out the impact of EQ on leadership. Through our survey, we discovered that emotionally healthy leadership is a top indicator of organizational success.

Research shows that EQ is the differentiator between great leaders and average ones. Author, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman studied executives at nearly 200 companies and found EQ to be twice as relevant to performance in comparison with both IQ and technical ability. At top levels, EQ accounted for a 90-percent difference between the best and the rest.

Now that we know how EQ skills are not the “soft” skills they were once coined as…Rather, these are essential skills that will prepare leaders for navigating the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we live in.

The five interconnected components of EQ are:

1. Self-awareness: understanding one’s own emotions and their effect on others.
2. Self-regulation: the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses.
3. Motivation: a passion to work with energy and persistence for reasons beyond money or status.
4. Empathy: the ability to understand the emotional needs of others and treat them accordingly.
5. Social skills: proficiency in managing relationships, developing networks, building rapport and finding common ground.

These combined skills help leaders to be confident and candid, develop and retain talent, manage cross-cultural sensitivities, become more persuasive, assess their own strengths and weaknesses realistically, gain trust, become comfortable with ambiguity and open to change, commit to the organization and create change.

Because these components are interconnected, the good news is that honing your ability in any one area improves upon them all. October is Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month, so what better time to get started?

Join us at an upcoming Search Inside Yourself program to strengthen these core competencies and learn how they can make you a great leader.