Clever Leaders need E.I. - 5 Clever Steps To Develop Yours.


Clever Leaders must be able to inspire others with their vision. They must be able to communicate clear goals and motivate their teams. They must understand and support their teams so that they can achieve their best.

...for more on what a Clever Leader needs, see Top 10 Clever Leadership Skills You Need.

All leaders have certain natural skills which they use to get the best out of their teams. These leadership skills are used in varying degrees depending on the level of experience of the team members, the complexity of the task and its urgency. But, there is one common quality in all leaders that is used consistently in all situations. Out of all the different situations a leader has to face, there is one ability that all Clever Leaders MUST have - which is a high level of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (E.I.).

What is ‘Emotional Intelligence’?

E.I. is the ability to recognize, understand and manage peoples emotions. This includes the leaders own emotions as well as the emotions, thoughts and feelings of others in their team. Understanding what makes people ‘tick’ enables the Clever Leader to improve their own performance and the performance of their team.

5 Clever Steps Improve your E.I.

The first part of mastering E.I. is understanding yourself.

  • What drives, you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What angers and disappoints you?

When you look at yourself and identify the E.I. qualities you already have you will also be able to identify those that you need to improve - and then you can start doing something about it.

A Clever leader must have the following E.I.

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-control and regulation
  3. Self-motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills.

1. Self-Awareness

Clever Leaders must be fully aware of their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and goals.

Leaders with a high level of self-awareness are:

  • Self-Confident
  • Have a realistic view of themselves
  • Are able to make fun of themselves.

You must look at yourself and critically review your own performance. Just as you spend time evaluating the performance of others, it is equally as important to review your own performance. You should reflect on the situations when things well and also those that did not go as planned. Work out why this happened and how you dealt with it - and then how you can improve your performance in the future.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did I feel frustrated in that meeting?
  • Why did I give in to that situation?
  • Why do I take on too much?
  • Why do I let deadlines slip?

Once you have identified the ‘Why’, you can then start looking at the ‘What’.

  • What can I do to improve myself in this area?
  • What can I do to prevent it from happening again?

As you do this, you must remember to not blame others for your own actions:

  • “They deserved it, by missing the deadlines”
  • “I already warned them about it, what did they expect me to do?”

You may have many excuses for when things did not go as well as you expected but these are exactly that - excuses. Only YOU choose to act the way you do. Blaming it on others - “they started it” - is simply an excuse which belongs in the school playground where you probably learned it.

‘Things are not always going to go your way - it’s a part of life - get used to it!’

 Observing and understanding your own emotions will help you to prevent negative emotions from building up and causing damage in the future.

2. Self-control and regulationself control

Clever leaders have the ability to control their own disruptive emotions or impulses.

Leaders with a high level of self-control are:

  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Comfortable with Change and Ambiguity.

Modern leaders cannot know everything. In fact, you don’t need to know everything. That’s why you have your team. If you are trying to keep up with every detail and be the ‘great oracle’ who knows everything, you are doing it wrong.

You should have the confidence in yourself and in your team. You must be humble and able to ask questions. You should seek out new ideas and advice.

Clever leaders must be comfortable with being honest with others, especially when they are not sure of the next step. Being open to ideas and ready to make changes for the better is a strength that all leaders should develop. This is also an important motivator for your team - everyone likes to be listened to. It makes them feel that their opinions and ideas are valued and that they play an important role in the project and company.

Self control

3. Self-motivation

Clever Leaders have the ability to drive themselves to achieve a goal just for the sake of achievement.

Leaders who are self-motivated are:

  • Passionate about their work
  • Always looking for new challenges
  • Optimistic even if faced with failure.

It can sometimes be difficult but, Clever leaders have an endless amount of positive energy. They are able to face problems with a can-do attitude even when the odds are stacked against them.

Understanding your own emotional energy and being able to maintain a confident and positive outlook on life is something that can be practised. It comes back to observing yourself. Watching out for those negative thoughts or emotions and catching them before they turn into something bigger.

Maintaining your passion is what keeps the project moving. It can be achieved by setting and celebrating the small goals. Give yourself a pat on the back for your own achievements (as a leader you may find that no one else will). If you are happy and confident in your own progress then some of this positivity will rub off on your team - even in the most difficult times.

4. Empathy


Clever leaders have the ability to consider other people’s feelings and emotional states - the ability to put themselves into their shoes.

Leaders with high levels of empathy:

  • Are good at finding and retaining talent
  • Support the development and growth of others
  • Are sensitive to the feelings of others.

O.K, you now have your own E.I. understood. Now it is time to look at the people in your team. Start asking yourself the same questions:

  • What do they like?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What areas do they find difficult or are uncomfortable with?

Spending a little time on this will help you to understand them better so that you can follow up with:

  • What can I do to help / support / develop / them?
  • How can I motivate them?

A Clever leader is always be looking for ways to support and develop their team.

When your team knows that you ‘have their back’ and what to help them to develop and improve, even the most stubborn team member will begin to change.

5. Social skillssocial skills

Clever Leaders with high social skills:

  • Can develop, maintain and use relationships with others to direct them towards a common goal
  • Can motivate and enthuse others
  • Are good communicators
  • Are able to generate trust in others.

A Clever leader must be able to communicate a clear message to their team. Leaders must be able to explain what is to be done, by when and how. They must also be able to communicate the passion and energy required to achieve the task so that they enthuse others into wanting to achieve the goal being set for them.

To achieve this, leaders must be able to enthuse themselves and this is where the ability to self-motivate becomes most important. If you can motivate your self then you will be able to pass on that motivation to others. When communicating a leader must always remember to ‘Keep It Simple (K.I.S)’. This is because they may be deeply involved in the project and there may be a tendency for some leaders to over complicate a task by explaining irrelevant parts.

Keep to the key points that are needed at the time and concentrate on communicating the importance of the task and why you value your team to achieve or exceed it.

Finallyteam support

Once you have practised developing your E.I. and set your teams in motion, you must re-visit and re-energize your teams. You can do this by applauding progress, discussing problem areas and providing support. This will ensure that your teams stay motivated and on target for achieving their goals.

Once you get to know yourself, you can start taking a closer look at your team and getting a better understanding of what makes them tick.

Be a Clever Leader - Start developing your E.I. skills now.

Download our FREE Clever-notes PDF here:  [download id="1193"]

Please reference and thank you for sharing Cleverness with others.

Follow the link below from the Greater Good Science Center and find-out how your E.I. is...

Test Your Emotional Intelligence - How well do you read other people?

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Watch: Daniel Goleman Introduces Emotional Intelligence | Big Think 5:31

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Main Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay; Image 2 by Tumisu from Pixabay ;Image 3 by Katniss12 from Pixabay ; Image 4 by Scott Webb from Pixabay ; Image 5 by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay; Image 6 Empathy Malik Mccotter Jordan from Pixabay; Image 7 by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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Posted in Leadership Series.