How Emotional Intelligence can help leaders make better decisions


Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to understand, manage, and use one's own and others' emotions positively. For leaders, EI is a critical skill that can enhance decision-making, foster team dynamics, and improve overall leadership effectiveness.

Emotional Intelligence and Informed Decision Making

Leaders who possess emotional intelligence can leverage it for better decision-making. Emotional intelligence enables leaders to gauge the emotional undercurrents and unspoken dynamics within a team, which can often provide valuable insights that aren't obvious from data alone.

For example, the director of a marketing agency used her high EI to realize that the consistently underperforming team was not due to lack of skills, but due to low morale and burnout. Instead of making a decision based on performance data alone, which might have led to lay-offs or restructuring, she implemented measures to boost morale, including work-life balance initiatives and team-building activities. Within a few months, the team's performance and morale improved significantly, demonstrating that her emotionally informed decision led to a positive outcome.

Emotional Intelligence for Risk Assessment

When evaluating potential risks, EI can provide leaders with a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are more in tune with the emotional reactions and fears that potential risks may generate within their team, allowing them to address these concerns proactively.

In a software development firm, a project leader had to decide whether to adopt a new, relatively untested technology for a critical project. Relying on his EI, he recognized the team's anxiety around this decision. Instead of making an isolated decision, he involved the team in the risk assessment process, addressing their fears and gaining their buy-in. This not only mitigated the emotional risk but also led to a more robust technical risk assessment. Ultimately, the new technology was adopted, and the project was delivered successfully, largely due to the team's wholehearted engagement.

Emotional Intelligence in Conflict Resolution

Leaders often have to make decisions in conflict situations. High EI can help leaders navigate these tricky scenarios, balancing different viewpoints, and fostering understanding among team members.

A CEO of a growing startup demonstrated this when her leadership team was divided over strategic direction. Some advocated for aggressive expansion, while others favored consolidation. Using her EI, she facilitated open, empathetic discussions among the team members, acknowledging the emotions and concerns behind their viewpoints. Her emotionally intelligent approach led to a compromise solution that satisfied both factions, resulting in a unified, committed leadership team and a clear, mutually agreed-upon direction for the company.


Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance a leader's decision-making capabilities. By understanding and acknowledging emotions, leaders can make more informed decisions that take into account the full complexity of their organizations' human dynamics.

Whether it is making strategic decisions, assessing risks, or resolving conflicts, emotional intelligence can be a game-changer for effective leadership.