The Importance of Emotional Leadership


This week I had the pleasure of having an interesting chat with Cedric Dumont, adventurer, performance psychologist, speaker and author. Among other things, we talked about emotional intelligence ‘EI’ and how today, more than ever, it is important to lead ‘emotionally intelligent’ as a business leader.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you.

It is generally believed that everyone should be “agile” as the buzzword wants it. Resilience and flexibility were traits that could not be ignored in our daily lives over the past year.  For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential to empower during these ongoing challenging times, where perspective and outlook are lacking. As a leader, it is all about DARING:

– Daring to show deep emotions

– Daring to ask questions 

– Daring to discuss inner thoughts and feelings

– Daring to be vulnerable 

– Daring to say that, as a leader, you also don’t know what to do anymore

Here are a few questions that you, as a leader, can ask yourself in order to determine whether sufficient efforts are being made in this area within your company:

– Is there enough connecting communication with your employees, especially now that they work from home? 

– Do you have enough insights into the emotions of your employees? Are they asked about their ‘real’ feelings? 

– Has an appropriate ‘safe climate’ been created within the company where there is room to express deep emotions?

– As a business leader, how do you address staff engagement as telework remains the general norm?

What about the loyalty of your employees? What actions are you taking to nurture this? And, is this more likely to be addressed on an individual or group basis?

The job of a manager is to create a safe environment where people dare to engage in self-reflection. If safety is lacking, people will quickly drift away on their own little island, often out of fear. It is therefore a top priority to create an emotionally safe environment in which employees can and dare to speak up. An environment in which they can be completely themselves. Work on that bond of trust where employees feel that showing emotions is appreciated. Encourage this by regularly indicating that everything can and may be said, in group or individual context, instead of disapproving, laughing away or judging it negatively. 

When I opened the newspaper this morning and read the article by family psychologist and therapist Nina Mouton on VRT news, my heart wept. (Article can be read here). Now that all schools are closing again and parents are being asked not to send their children to daycare, the pressure at home is only increasing. Parents are expected to keep the economy going, care for their children and control the pandemic.  As a business leader you can respond to this by personally contacting your employees and asking about their home situation. I am not saying that it is the employer’s responsibility to tackle this problem. But you can help reduce the pressure by supporting your employees. Let them know that their home situation is the most important thing right now and that they should not put any pressure on themselves work-related. If necessary, suggest them to take a few days’ off. That one phone call can work wonders! To know as an employee that your leader recognizes your home issues and offering a structural solution.

We all live in a collective crisis. We have all been obeying to the governmental restrictions for a year. Why are we so hard on ourselves and our society? Let’s be more gentle with each other and with ourselves. As a business leader, you can lead by example. “Leading by example” as the term so eloquently puts it.


Much love,

Ellen, Time 2 Reconnect

This article has been written by Ellen Van den branden for Time2Reconnect

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