Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in the Workplace

Jun 21, 2022

Because of COVID-19, emotional intelligence in the workplace is becoming increasingly important for leaders and project managers. It is impossible to succeed in project management and manage cross-functional remote teams without emotional intelligence.

In his classic Harvard Business Review essay "What Makes a Leader?" Daniel Goleman, author of the 1995 book "Emotional Intelligence," outlined what makes a leader.

"It's not that intelligence and technical abilities aren't important. They are important, but mostly as 'threshold capabilities,' which are the minimum prerequisites for executive jobs."

What is emotional intelligence?

Two famous psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, proposed the emotional intelligence hypothesis in the early 1990s. In his book Emotional Intelligence, published in 1995, science writer and novelist Daniel Goleman linked the idea to business leadership, solidifying its place infamous debate and leadership education.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace refers to employees' ability to detect their own and others' emotions, distinguish between different sentiments, and change their feelings and behaviors to achieve their objectives. In short, emotional intelligence is a set of skills and traits that help people lead effectively at work.

Why is emotional intelligence critical in the workplace?

Managing cohesive, high-performing teams requires emotional intelligence in the workplace. According to researchers and behavioral scientists, emotional intelligence influences how leaders communicate with their teams and how their team members connect with them and each other.

Leaders and emotionally intelligent managers know how to regulate their emotions and conduct at work, creating safe conditions for exchanging ideas and feedback, constructive teamwork and performance, good morale, employee engagement, and job satisfaction. They carefully manage workplace stress and conflict and teach their colleagues to do the same.

Top emotional intelligence skills managers need


Goleman's book outlines five fundamental components of emotional intelligence and practical, emotional intelligence skills to help leaders be more productive at work.


For the best outcomes, any leader or manager who wants to improve their emotional intelligence in the workplace should emphasize the five talents listed below, breaking them down into even smaller skill sets. A manager, for example, must learn to listen actively and support providing and accepting criticism inside the team or company to become self-aware.

  • Self-awareness

When you are constantly honest and conscious of your strengths and flaws as a manager, you will perform better.

If you cannot reflect and assess yourself objectively, you may be inclined to blame others or fail to see how your activities lead to specific results.


Being conscious of our emotions and how they affect others is a great place to start for successful leadership. The next step is to control these feelings and the responses they elicit.

  • Empathy

Empathy, when combined with self-regulation, aids leaders and managers in understanding their employees and other partners. Empathy is defined as the ability to comprehend and share the feelings of others and to put yourself in their position.

  • Social skills

Good social skills affect practically every element of leadership and management directly and measurably. We may even say that practical communication skills are a requirement for emotional intelligence in the job.

  • Motivation

Good leaders are motivated by solid intrinsic values rather than the prospect of incentives, pay rises, privileges, or a higher position. They interact with their teams and employees frequently and clearly.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of their internal motivations and how they interact with those of their team and company. Rather than emotional intelligence, intrinsic motivation is a competitive advantage in almost any workplace. The value of harnessing and articulating this desire to leaders, project managers, and staff cannot be overstated.

Why is emotional intelligence critical in project management?

When you consider it, it's easy to see how crucial emotional intelligence is to project managers in their daily work.

While developing and executing good project plans is essential, maintaining a cohesive team is much more so, whether in the office or remotely.

Project managers with high emotional intelligence have a better probability of succeeding, better physical and mental health, better work connections, and less stress. Project managers with high emotional intelligence are better able to:

  • Develop strong internal and external ties.
  • Encourage communication and culture in the workplace.
  • Ensure productive collaborations
  • Negotiate and discover areas of agreement.
  • Dispute resolution and conflict management
  • Actively listen to feedback.




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