emotional leadership

Seventy-five per cent.

According to the survey by The Hartford, that is the rate of workplace millennials will occupy by 2025. They are tech-savvy and self-expressive team players unwilling to follow the “boss-subordinate” algorithm. Striving for constant improvement, they need a leader who could motivate and be a role model for them.

And while it’s common to see 23 to 30-year-old entrepreneurs and startup-ers who are millennials themselves and supposed to set the corresponding leadership style, some aren’t yet emotionally intelligent enough to deal with their ambitious and mindful mentees on the way to business success.

In the post-COVID-19 world, when so many people became more self-aware and revised their life and career goals, emotional intelligence turns to be even more essential in the workplace.

With remote work from homes, the ability to recognise, evaluate, and control mentees’ sentiments is critical for responsible leaders to master.

Here’s what young entrepreneurs and team leads can do to get the ball rolling:

Practicing correct emotions in team communication

Good and bad leaders alike use their emotions to control mentees. The difference lies in harnessing them. Yelling at team members can instill fear or annoyance while motivating and inspirational words can turn them in your favour. 

Communicating with the workforce, leaders need to pay attention to emotional words they use in both oral and written language. Some can tear away your sensitive mentees, while others make them want to complete a task and excel.

Just compare:

“Jack, complete this report by Friday so I wouldn’t have to rewrite everything. You don’t want to get penalised for a failure, do you?”


“Jack, could you help us, please? The manager asks for a stellar report with no weak spots. As far as you’re our best analyst, I decided to ask you. Would you complete it by Friday?”

Also Read: How early-stage startups can build a thought leadership strategy

Using emotional arguments

Given that it’s emotions rather than logic that rule our decisions, leaders who try persistently to persuade mentees with nothing but solid arguments may often fail. The team will listen to you, nod their heads, but yet adhere to their own opinions.

Take iPhone sales, for example. While Apple releases their new products long after Android, their sales exceed others so far. It happens because customers have gained an emotional attachment to Apple’s products.

The same is true for leadership:

If willing to persuade their workforce, partners, or clients to follow and advocate their brands, a leader needs to draw them emotionally. With lockdowns from the pandemic, it’s pretty challenging to instill a sense of purpose and drive people to reach outside their comfort zones.

Cultivating the traits like motivating, teaching, and trust in others can help modern business people become emotional leaders everyone wants to work for.

Resonating with others in a leadership

Outstanding leaders are those able to resonate with mentees. The business word “synergy” fits here best: A leader needs to become one unit with their workforce on the emotional level, which leads to more efficient collaboration and coordination.

Good leaders ask themselves, What do my mentees feel when leaving the office or the work chat after the talk with me?” No inspiration, motivation, or at least mirth is a bad sign.

Training social intelligence

Social intelligence, aka empathy, is our ability to listen and understand others. A “father” the emotional intelligence concept, Dr. Daniel Goleman describes it as the ability to build relationships and navigate social environments successfully.” It includes teamwork, conflict resolution, coaching, training, and enthusiastic leadership, influencing our business and personal relationships.

To develop it, leaders should, first of all, find out if their current levels of social intelligence need further training and improvement. Psychological tests and corresponding online quizzes can help here.

Also read: Why we should embrace a startup mindset in today’s volatile economic climate

The first step to better empathy is learning the psychology behind body language to “read” dialog partners and practicing good eye contact when speaking and listening to team members.

Then, leaders need to try developing so-called proto-conversation skills. It refers to the ability to read between the lines and understand a person’s mood by their gestures, voice intonations, and micro-expressions.

Avoiding the carrot and stick approach in leadership

For entrepreneurs and leaders who haven’t yet read Paul L. Marciano’s Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, it’s high time to start. This approach refers to the belief that proper and productive behaviour is possible to induce through sequencing reward and punishment. 

As far as you understand, it doesn’t work. In his above-mentioned book, Dr. Marciano proves that hair-raising tactics can’t motivate us to change habits, behaviours, and attitudes towards something.

For modern leaders to win respect and motivate mentees, it’s critical to know each team member individually and how best to encourage them. Creating an atmosphere of open, honest, and positive communication would be a great start.

This atmosphere includes unconditional acceptance, trust, constructiveness, confidentiality, and equality.

Getting ready for own transformation

Good leaders are those open to transformation and aren’t afraid of getting new traits. Asking themselves what kind of emotional leaders they want to be would help decide on characteristics to develop.

Some leaders may be practicing flexibility or sympathy; others will train the ability to listen and hear their team members; some may decide to develop traits like coaching, motivating, and inspiring others through vision and mission.

What we all need to remember is that changes happen to those who do, not those reading tons of blog posts and promising to try described tactics “one day.”

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. This season we are seeking op-eds, analysis and articles on food tech and sustainability. Share your opinion and earn a byline by submitting a post.

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Image credit: Markus Spiske on Usplash

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