Unleash emotional leadership

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Unleash emotional leadership

Leadership is a difficult balancing act. The backbone of successful companies is their management structure and leadership style, which directly affect company culture, productivity, and employee satisfaction and performance. One leadership style that has been increasingly studied is emotional leadership. Although feelings can positively affect the work environment and team dynamics, excessive emotionality on the part of a leader can lead to several risks for the organisation because decisions are often based on feelings, not knowledge.

The leadership style of an emotional leader is strongly based on a leader’s emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to sense, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and those of others. This approach can be engaging and motivating and help create an open and supportive work culture. However, the emotional leader’s excessive focus on emotions in strategic planning can lead to undesirable results for the organisation, as the emotional leader’s strategic decisions are not very long-term perspective, but are driven by some subjectively changing emotions that depend on shorter-term influences and from the organisation’s point of view, may not be useful at all.

Thus, an emotional leadership style can lead to bias in decision-making. If a manager lets his emotions, including, for instance, biases or fears, influence him too much, it can cause a loss of objectivity when making important decisions. For example, a manager who acts at the level of his incompetence may be too involved in maintaining his position on an emotional level, become incapable of criticism, or prefer subjective decisions that he thinks may be to the liking of higher-level managers on the spur of the moment.

Also, emotional leadership can encourage dependence on the leader’s emotional state. If a leader is emotionally unstable or if his emotional state fluctuates, it can spill over into the formulation of strategies and important strategic decisions can change daily, creating an unstable work environment and deteriorating performance because goals and values have become blurred for the team. Unclear goals and organisational strategies create uncertainty and confusion in the team and reduce trust in leaders.

Excessive reliance on emotions by a manager can cause difficulties in resolving conflicts and managing difficult situations, because a rocket flying into the room in a different information space than others, i.e. based on emotion-based perceptions, may not perceive the real content of the issues and make the solutions ineffective, or even direct them to solve irrelevant and misunderstood challenges. In turn, they move away from finding substantive solutions, as a result of which the team’s initiative and willingness to contribute rapidly decreases.

At the same time, management structure and leadership style play pivotal roles in shaping company culture, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can inspire and motivate their teams, promoting collaboration and innovation. They possess a keen awareness of their motivation, enabling them to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and build strong relationships within the organisation.

Moreover, emotionally intelligent leaders are adept at leveraging emotions strategically in decision-making, recognising when to rely on rational analysis and when to trust their instincts. By cultivating a culture of empathy and understanding, they nurture a sense of belonging and psychological safety among team members, encouraging open communication and creativity. Their ability to manage conflicts constructively and resolve interpersonal issues helps maintain a positive work environment and minimize disruptions to productivity.

Additionally, emotionally intelligent leaders serve as role models for their teams, demonstrating resilience, adaptability, and authenticity in their leadership approach. By leading with empathy and compassion, they inspire trust and loyalty among employees, driving engagement and performance. Their ability to connect with others on an emotional level fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect, enhancing teamwork and collaboration.

Science comes to support leadership in business

There is substantial scientific research supporting the correlation between emotionally intelligent leadership and organisational performance. Here are a few key findings from global studies:

  • A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that leaders who exhibited high levels of emotional intelligence were more likely to create high-performing teams and achieve business results. They were also better at managing stress and fostering a positive work environment.
  • Google’s Project Aristotle, a comprehensive study of team performance, found that psychological safety, a key component of emotional intelligence, was the most important factor in predicting team success. Teams with emotionally intelligent leaders who fostered a sense of psychological safety were more innovative and productive.
  • TalentSmart, a leading provider of emotional intelligence assessments, conducted research showing that leaders with higher emotional intelligence scores were more successful in their roles. They were better at inspiring and motivating their teams, managing conflicts, and adapting to change.
  • The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) conducted a study that found a strong correlation between leaders’ emotional intelligence and their ability to drive organizational performance. Leaders who scored higher in emotional intelligence competencies were more effective at leading change, building trust, and driving employee engagement.
  • The Global Leadership Forecast, a biennial study conducted by DDI, EY, and The Conference Board, consistently finds that leaders with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more effective at leading teams and organizations. They are better at building relationships, managing conflicts, and driving employee engagement, all of which contribute to improved organisational performance.


These studies provide compelling evidence that companies with emotionally intelligent leadership tend to perform better than those without, highlighting the importance of developing emotional intelligence skills among leaders at all levels of the organization.

In summary, emotion-based leadership is a double-edged sword that can bring both positive and negative consequences to an organization. While emotions play an important role in the work environment and team dynamics, managers need to monitor the drivers of these strategies and ensure that emotional intelligence is balanced with objectivity and professionalism. Emotional leadership carries inherent risks, but when harnessed effectively, it can yield numerous benefits for organisations. Emotionally competent leaders play a critical role in shaping company culture and fostering a positive work environment.

To maximize the potential of emotional leadership, organisations should prioritize the development of emotional intelligence skills among their leaders and provide training and support to enhance emotional awareness and management capabilities. They should also encourage a culture of psychological safety and open communication, where employees feel empowered to express their emotions and concerns without fear of judgment. By cultivating a workforce of emotionally intelligent leaders, organisations can create a more resilient, adaptive, and inclusive workplace culture that drives long-term success.


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