Embracing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

By Kim Perry, TRUST President

As women have made great strides in breaking down gender parity barriers, there’s one element that has often been overlooked – emotional intelligence (EQ). Women should embrace and leverage their emotional intelligence in their leadership journeys.

Traditionally, leadership roles have been tied to stereotypes of assertiveness, decisiveness and emotional detachment that are typically associated with masculinity. However, the narrative has changed as we value diverse leadership styles. Emotional intelligence – the ability to understand and manage our own emotions as well as the emotions of others – is emerging as a critical leadership quality.

Research by Korn Ferry1 has shown women score higher than men in nearly all areas of EQ, and numerous studies have reported that those with higher EQs have greater empathy, more social skills and are “generally more effective in leadership roles.”2

Higher EQ can make people excellent listeners and problem solvers, capable of fostering positive relationships, overcoming challenges and mitigating conflicts. These skills are particularly valuable in today’s workplaces, where teamwork and collaboration are essential for success.

Leaders with high emotional intelligence recognize that individuals on their teams are individuals, first and foremost, with unique strengths, weaknesses and motivations. This is important because the ability to see and value people as individuals create a work environment where everyone feels seen and appreciated. And when people feel respected and understood, they are more engaged, productive, and likely to stay with an organization.

It’s important to note that emotional intelligence doesn’t imply a lack of assertiveness. Women leaders can be emotionally intelligent and assertive, driving teams to success while nurturing positive and inclusive workplace cultures. The key is to balance empathy and understanding with the ability to make tough decisions and set firm boundaries.

The rise of emotional intelligence as a valued leadership trait provides an opportunity for women in leadership roles. By embracing and cultivating these skills, women can redefine leadership and contribute to creating a more inclusive and effective workplace. As we place greater value on diverse leadership styles, the unique strengths of women leaders will be increasingly recognized and valued. It’s time for women leaders to step forward, embrace their EQ and help shape the future of leadership.

1 Korn Ferry, Research Shows Women Are Better at Using Soft Skills Crucial for Effective Leadership and Superior Business Performance, 2016

2 Commpro, The Female Advantage in Leadership: EQ, 2023

Kim Perry serves as the 2023 TRUST President and is a health care consultant, board member and advisor to various organizations. Kim is passionate about women in leadership and was honored as Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s 2020 Women in Business. She is also dedicated to improving access to high-quality health care for the underserved. Kim was recently Board Chair of Neighborhood Health Source, a federally qualified health center.