Emotional Awareness in Leadership & Management

Emotional intelligence is an individual’s ability to identify the emotions they are experiencing at any given time. Making decisions requires understanding how your emotions affect judgement and actions. As an entrepreneur or business owner, this is an important skill to have. The main reason for this is that your emotions will play a big part in your business, they will impact how you:

  • Feel. - Success brings good feelings, but failure often brings about negative feelings such as disappointment and frustration. These negative feelings can lead to a loss of motivation and a desire to quit.

  • Behave. - Negative feelings make it difficult to work, which can impact and productivity in the short term and the success of your business in the long term.

  • Treat others. - The same negative feelings can also be turned on others and negatively impact your business relationships.


While this may seem like an issue of personal development, emotional awareness is also vital to keeping your business ahead of the competition. It can be applied in almost all areas, but today we’ll focus on emotional intelligence in management and leadership.


Management, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Whether you have one employee or one hundred, it is important to remember that leadership does not come automatically with being in a position of power or authority. Leadership is something employees give to the most effective managers. It is reserved for individuals with a high standard of integrity and outstanding communication skills.


A manager, or owner, who is more in tune with their own emotions is better able to understand and empathize with the emotions of others and recognize the impact on attitudes and behaviors. Your employees will respond better to managers who treat them as individuals deserving of respect and not try to hammer square pegs into round holes.


Situational Leadership

While many different leadership styles lean towards the use of emotional intelligence, there is one that is specifically based off of the use emotional intelligence. This leadership style is called situational leadership. It is an adaptive leadership model created by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. The fundamental principle behind situational leadership is that there's no single best style of leadership. Effective leadership should be relevant to the task and the individuals carrying out the activities therein. This requires the leader to be able to adapt the leadership style to the ability and willingness of the individual or group they're trying to lead or influence. The Situational Leadership Model has two Core Concepts: the Leadership Style and the individual or groups Performance Readiness level, also called maturity level or development level. This leadership style is characterized by the amount of task behavior and relationship behavior the leader provides that followers. It falls into four styles of behavior which are:

  1. Telling leaders - S1 (specific guidance and close supervision). These leaders make decisions alone and communicate them to others. They create the roles, tasks and objectives and expect others to accept them. Communication is usually one way. Telling leadership is most effective in a disaster or when repetitive results are required.

  2. Selling Leaders - S2 (explaining and persuading). These leaders may create the roles, tasks and objectives, but they are also open to suggestions and opinions from others. They “sell” their ideas to others in order to gain cooperation.

  3. Participating Leaders - S3 (sharing and facilitating). These leaders leave decisions on roles and tasks to their followers. Although they may take part in the decision-making process, the ultimate choice is left to employees.

  4. Delegating Leaders - S4 (letting others do it). These leaders are responsible for their teams, but provide minimum guidance to workers or help with problem solving. They may be asked from time to time to help with decision-making.


Though the words used to describe the styles has changed with time, the diagram below from kenblanchard.com illustrates it well.


The right leadership style will also depend on the person or group being led. The situational leadership theory identifies four levels of maturity

  • Low Competence: High Commitment D1. Unable and insecure individuals lack the specific skills required for the job in hand and they are willing to work at the task. They are novice but enthusiastic.

  • Some Competence: Low Commitment D2. Unable but confident individuals are more able to do the task; however, they are demotivated for this job or unwilling to do the task.

  • High Competence: Variable Commitment D3. Capable but unwilling individuals are experienced and able to do the task but lack the confidence or the willingness to take on responsibility.

  • High Competence: High Commitment D4. Very capable individuals are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing to not only do the task, but to take responsibility for the task


From Theory to Practice

In a practical sense, managers who use the Situational Leadership Model are in fact practising emotional awareness. While it’s easy to objectively identify an employees’ skill level, judging their level of motivation and commitment requires an understanding of emotions and how they affect behavior.

A person may be generally skilled, confident and motivated in their job but show a maturity level of M1 when asked to perform a task requiring skills they do not yet possess. It is important that the manager in charge be able to recognize this and adjust their management style to make sure that they not only get the results they want, but the employee also stays motivated and gains more confidence.


3 things to keep in mind to help you use Emotional Awareness in your leadership

  • A good leader will take the time to get to know their employees and how to communicate and motivate them effectively.

  • Your leadership style can and should adjust dependent on the task at hand and who is carrying it out.

  • Your employees will respond better to managers who treat them as individuals deserving of respect.

  • If you’d like for yourself and your staff on emotional awareness, contact us today.


How flexible are you in your management style? Have you ever had a manager who was inflexible, how did it affect the way your team worked? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.