According to a recent interview with Bill Gates, “The end will come for this pandemic” but not until 2022. With the prospect of another 12 months of ongoing uncertainty and heightened emotions, it’s never been more important for leaders to develop their emotional intelligence (EQ) to successfully navigate the path out of the pandemic. In challenging times, the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions and those of others is crucial to building strong relationships with your team, customers and suppliers.  

As the roadmap out of lockdown continues and we transition to a more blended way of working with some people officebased and others working from home, the ability to harness your EQ to inspire and motivate others will be critical to your success.  

How to lead with EQ: 

1. Be Mindful 

The first step to harnessing your EQ is to develop your self-awareness. Being mindful and focusing on the present will allows you to monitor your feelings and emotions so you can gain greater self-knowledge and change your behaviour. It is only by understanding your own feelings and experiences that you can hope to get a clearer insight into those of others. Draw on your self-control to respond rather than react to situations. You may not be able to control world events, but you can control your response and the way in which you influence those around you. 


2. Put yourself in other people’s shoes

People with high levels of EQ are genuinely interested in other people. Take the time to find out what makes your customers or colleagues tick. A great way to do this is to ask clever questions that will give you greater insight into what’s important to them. Try to reserve judgment; your aim should be to get a deeper understanding of their perspective. This will help make the other person feel valued. Remember people buy people – you need to create a balanced relationship by treating the people you interact with as equals and understanding their specific needs and challenges. 


3. Listen attentively

This may sound obvious but to be emotionally intelligent you need to listen carefully to the other person. In reality this can be easier said than done. There are three levels of listening; superficial listening -when you’re only pretending to hear what the other person is saying; selective listening – when you’re only hearing the things you want to hear and attentive listening which requires drawing on all of your EQ skills to listen live in the moment. Listening attentively takes real effort and concentration to read the other person’s body language and tone of voice so you can understand the true meaning behind their words. 


4. Find Common Ground

Build on the information you have gathered by asking the right questions and listening attentively to the answers to make a connection and establish any common ground. This will help you create a balanced relationship based on trust, loyalty and shared experiences. You will soon reap the rewards of increased collaboration and teamwork that will drive your commercial performance. 


5. Adopt A “Can-Do” Approach 

By dialling up your optimism and adaptability, you will think creatively and generate a positive mood that is contagious. The ability to bounce-back from setbacks is what enables emotionally intelligent people to keep their eyes focused on the end goal so they have a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved going forward. By drawing on your resilience in this way, you will lead by example and encourage others to go the extra mile and achieve real commercial success.  


By following these 5 steps to develop your EQ, you will have the tools at your fingertips to  build meaningful relationships either in person or remotely, embrace new ways of working and draw on your resilience to successfully navigate the challenges of the next 12 months.