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It’s no secret that I love talking and writing about emotional intelligence. Honestly, so much of what I’m passionate about is connected directly to EQ: communication, self-awareness, compassion, empathy and habits. In my previous blog post, I described the history of emotional intelligence and how it has become an essential ingredient in leadership.

Today I want to dig a little deeper into the types of habits that successful leaders employ to ensure they keep their EQs sharp and healthy. Some of these habits are shockingly simple. Others are a bit more challenging. All of them are potentially powerful for you as you transcend to the next level in your leadership.

Let’s get started!

#1 – Authenticity

Inauthentic leaders are not really leaders at all. Why? Because people rarely feel enthusiastic about and committed to following those who fail to operate with authenticity. Authenticity is the quality of “realness” that aligns a leader’s thoughts, actions, beliefs and values with their work. It is the practice of saying what you mean – and meaning what you say.

To turn authenticity into a habit, pay attention to your words and actions. Are you just telling people what they want to hear or attempting to impress others? Or are you expressing your honest truth? As a leader, it is critical that you express yourself authentically if you want to drive others to follow your lead.

#2 – Constant Learning

Leaders who think they know it all usually find out the hard way that they actually have a lot to learn. Grounded, emotionally intelligent leaders, on the other hand, understand that there is always much to learn – from their executives, their peers, the people they lead and virtually everyone they encounter.

Be a student. Use every interaction as an opportunity to learn something new, even if it doesn’t apply directly to your work or your leadership. Constant learning is one of the key ways for leaders to stay attuned to their most emotionally intelligent selves.

#3 – Building Relationships

Emotionally intelligent leaders recognize that leadership relies heavily on high-quality relationships, which is why they make a constant effort to grow, nurture and explore the connections they have with others. They are also aware of when connecting with others could be fruitful. This action is not just about networking; it’s the recognition that we are all in this together, and the more connected we are, the more likely we are to achieve success.

To make relationship building a habit, I suggest shifting your perception of the people around you. Instead of considering them in terms of their performance or their role in your organization, think about the amazing things you could learn from them! You’ll be glad you did.

#4 – Practicing Compassion

Ultimately, your organization will benefit tremendously from the implementation of a culture of compassion. And it starts with you. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that people make mistakes and don’t always live up to expectations. People have lives outside of work and are presented with challenges that impact their professional lives. Effective, grounded leaders communicate, listen and seek to understand their people.

One tool that can help you practice compassion is an assessment like the Emergenetics® Profile. When you understand how those around you prefer to think and behave, you may have an easier time putting yourself in their shoes and seeing their perspective.

The big secret about compassion is that most people save very little of it for themselves – especially leaders. So the next time you feel like criticizing yourself, take a moment to forgive yourself. You are a human being, after all. Make compassion a habit, and you will see your organization and its fortunes transform positively.

#5 – Measure Your Success

Building habits associated with emotional intelligence can be difficult for leaders who do not pay attention to outcomes. Sometimes the successes offered through enhanced EQ are subtle and difficult to detect. However, emotionally intelligent leaders keep their antennas tuned to the effects of their behaviors. By paying attention and measuring their successes, they experience crucial rewards that reinforce good, emotionally intelligent behaviors.

My advice? It’s not enough to just change your behaviors. You must also make a habit of monitoring how your actions impact the world around you. Pay attention to the effects of your decisions. I would even suggest keeping an emotional intelligence journal to record the day-to-day reflections you have about your journey to higher EQ. I guarantee that over time, you will see serious progress, which will spur you to rise to even greater heights as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence Takes Time

There is no magical emotional intelligence switch or button in your brain that you can activate to become a master of EQ. It takes time, effort and diligence. It also requires you to be forgiving of yourself – you will make mistakes and revert to old habits. And that’s okay! Each moment is a new opportunity to practice the habits that lead to higher levels of emotional intelligence and grounded leadership.

How are you practicing emotional intelligence? What other habits would you recommend to build EQ?

I would love to have a conversation with you about this important topic! Send me an email at or fill out the form below to learn more about using Emergenetics to support EQ in your organization.

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