The One Liner

Navigating Crises: Leading with Emotional Intelligence

In an environment where radical change and uncertainty are the norms and not the exception, leaders have to improve their understanding of how to gain and sustain the commitment of others, unleash motivation and innovation, establish the trust and confidence of the team and ensure the delivery of customer value at all times. 

Given challenging times like the recent pandemic or the looming recession, whether at home or work, our emotions profoundly impact our every interaction, influence how we deal with challenges and opportunities, and help determine whether or not we collaborate to resolve conflict. 

Thus, here is where the organization’s leadership is looked upon to help navigate the uncertain times and come out strong. The leader’s ability to connect emotionally with employees and lead with emotional intelligence becomes essential for leadership effectiveness.


In this article, you will understand the role of emotional intelligence and ways to instill it in leaders to navigate any crisis at the workplace.

Defining emotional intelligence in leadership.

Along with the realities of today’s chaotic and volatile environment, leaders must deal with the flow of emotions in the workplace as people experience frequent changes, 

Whether a leader may like it or not, a significant part of his role entails managing the many moods that manifest in different forms during his day-to-day workplace interactions. It is how a leader makes his people feel engaged in their organization in an environment that makes them more productive and efficient. In doing so, a leader has to exhibit skills such as self-awareness, empathy, self-control, and social skills, all of which comprise “EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE”. 

In a fundamental sense, emotional intelligence in leadership is about a leader’s ability to manage emotions and nurture long-term relationships with friends and colleagues to foster growth, innovation, and creativity and enhance all-around performance.

The crucial role of emotional intelligence in crisis response

A leader’s effectiveness is then judged by his ability to maintain calm under duress, which becomes the deciding factor between navigating with success or sinking with the storm. For leaders, dealing with a crisis requires them to be able to 

Emotional intelligence helps people to react with greater control, think thoroughly about the outcomes of their decisions and actions, help manage stress levels in themselves and their colleagues and optimistically pursue a course of action. 

During crises, the work environment becomes highly charged, with emotions running high, making it difficult for leaders dealing with crises to think clearly and respond effectively. Emotional intelligence helps leaders in such a situation navigate effectively by allowing them to manage their emotions, maintain communication effectiveness, and maintain workplace relationships. 

Emotional intelligence is essential for anyone who has to manage crises in any capacity, personal or professional. Following are the 6 critical emotional intelligence competencies that come in handy when leaders have to navigate a crisis:

So here is how emotional intelligence helps during crisis management:

1. Builds tenacity through emotional intelligence

In the quest for a healthier and more productive workplace, the air quality we breathe cannot be underestimated. Office plants offer a natural and

In a traditional sense, tenacity is interpreted more as stubbornness—a determination to stay the course. From a leadership perspective, tenacity is more about strategic persistence, i.e., the ability to balance commitment with the flexibility to adapt, not just holding on endlessly but being aware of when to alter course and how to persist intelligently. 

In today’s chaotic and volatile environment, leaders must deal with the flow of emotions at the workplace as people experience frequent changes, conflicts, burnouts, failures, work-life imbalances, etc. Whether a leader may like it or not, a significant part of his role entails managing the many moods that manifest in different forms during his day-to-day workplace interactions. In such a situation, it is tenacity that enables the leadership to stay focused, not lose direction in the face of adversity, and envisage beyond immediate setbacks while not losing sight of long-term goals.

Emotional intelligence plays a critical role in building leadership tenacity as it helps develop persistence and perseverance in the face of challenging obstacles, disruptions, etc. and helps leaders abandon a “can’t do” mindset to a “can do” mindset.

effective solution to this challenge. 

2. Make effective communication strategies

One of my critical understandings about emotional intelligence at the workplace is that it is not the opposite of intelligence or the victory of the heart over the head, but a delicate balance between the two and maintaining such a balance requires leaders to be very effective in communication. When leadership communication is effective and emotionally intelligent, it helps nurture empathy, fosters stronger relationships at the workplace and promotes teamwork.

The following are the most effective communication strategies for leadership emotional intelligence:

For leaders, being authentic implies sticking to their values and beliefs and being true to their character regardless of their situation when dealing with a crisis. Nothing is more effective than being transparent, honest, and expressing themselves openly and effectively.

The development of emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. Workplace relationships are sensitive to how people manage their emotions and how well they understand the feelings of others around them. Lack of open communication can result in the expression of several negative emotions that affect the overall well-being of the workplace. Self-awareness helps control emotions and respond to the feelings of others professionally.

Social awareness, like self-awareness, is an essential skill when it comes to communicating effectively, as it helps leaders gauge the perspective of a critical situation and empathize with others, which often involves people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Social awareness also plays a key role in motivating and engaging others.

Optimism helps leaders be hopeful and confident, feel a sense of positive outcomes regarding the future and facilitate an easy flow of communication. 

Active listening helps communications be focused and on-point, understand others on a much broader level, and lead to more favourable outcomes. It helps build stronger relationships, enhances trust and respect, and encourages others to be open. 

3. Learn How to make decision under stress

In today’s business environment, it is quite common for leaders to be under constant stress while making decisions. The biggest constraint is insufficient time to thoroughly evaluate all aspects of the situation before implementing any plan. In such a situation, leaders have to think quickly and act decisively under tremendous stress. Following are the most effective tips for helping make decisions under stress;

4. Have an understanding and work well with others in a team

It is commonly understood that management needs emotional intelligence, and the same applies to teams. It has been found that emotionally intelligent teams are more productive and better at collaboration and communication. 

In leadership, actively promoting EQ inside a team helps foster a conducive work environment, boosts motivation, and enhances overall team performance in the following ways:

EQ helps teams work together as a cohesive whole, assisting people to know what each is capable of regarding time, emotional and physical energy, and quality output. EQ helps build team trust, a key factor for team success. 

Good emotional intelligence helps develop empathy, which helps determine how well each team member understands their colleague’s roles and responsibilities. 

Emotional intelligence in a team helps people recognize the efforts and input of others, appreciate each other’s contribution, and give credit where deserving. This nurtures a strong sense of purpose and fosters intrinsic motivation in the team. 

Conflict resolution is an essential part of teamwork that often requires substantial emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence helps improve communication skills, giving people a better perspective when discussing problems empathically and the foresight to vent frustrations and concerns before they evolve into significant issues.

A strong base of emotional intelligence gives a team the foundation to work together productively by helping create a shared sense of empathy and ensuring that team members understand each other and their problems at the same time, allowing the team to prioritize communication and collaboration.

5. Training & developing Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Industry surveys have revealed that nearly 80% of people holding senior management or leadership positions want to change jobs for a more emphatic employer. Therefore, supporting the development of an emphatic work culture then becomes the onus of the people at the helm of affairs, the leaders.

In today’s business environment, it is a must for any organization to develop emotional intelligence using training across the depths and breadths of the organization, starting with the people who play key leadership roles in the organization. 

Any training regime for developing EQ  has to focus on the following four pillars of emotional intelligence:

The development of skills associated with each of these components can help leaders to:

6. Have the urge of being lifelong learner

Leadership is not a destination but a long journey that evolves with time. For leaders to be influential in today’s ever-changing business landscape, it calls for a commitment to continuous and lifelong learning as it fosters adaptability, expands horizons, and helps leaders stay relevant in a hyper-competitive economy. Also, an urge for lifelong learning helps build resilience, enhances communication and problem-solving skills, helps cultivate emotional intelligence, enables leaders to navigate multicultural environments, inspires and empowers teams, fosters innovation, and balances the traditional with the contemporary.

Tips for developing an urge for lifelong learning;

Final Thoughts

In today’s ever changing & volatile business environment, emotional intelligence is a critical and necessary component of effective leadership. Leaders with high EQ  are self-aware, empathetic, and emotionally well-regulated. They are also highly competent in social skills, better equipped to build strong relationships with their team and colleagues, and highly confident in managing conflict and making sound decisions.

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