Nothing is worse than a leader who vanishes in times of crisis.

Extraordinary times reveal the true character and maturity of a leader, for it is during such times that people need guidance, compassion, and understanding the most. The best leaders step forth and lead when the going is the toughest.

To what degree you can accomplish that feat depends on how strong your emotional intelligence/leadership competency is.

In my books, I have always depicted emotional intelligence as one of the nine outer-core leadership competencies. Emotional intelligence is a part of the leadership aura that is visible to the outside world. It is also a collection of inner-core elements, that allow the leader to connect with teams at the most elementary human level.

How Do I Define Emotional Intelligence in the Context of Business Leadership? 

The inner-core elements from which emotional intelligence stems are emotions, positive references, self-concept, and elements of character. These components determine your ability to manage your emotions, connect with others on a human level, and ultimately, influence and lead them.

I have found that each of these components comes with specific sets of attributes:

  • Being self-aware allows you to recognize and interpret your emotions. By gaining a vantage point over your emotions, you automatically secure some degree of control over them.
  • Self-control stems directly from self-awareness. It allows you to limit the impact of emotions you identify as negative. By managing your emotions this way, you become capable of better responding to change and upholding high-performance standards.
  • Empathy is the ability to place yourself in the shoes of others. A good leader will anticipate the needs and concerns of his or her workforce, especially in times of crisis.
  • Motivation, or the urge or drive to achieve results, is also strongly connected to emotional intelligence.
  • To emotionally influence others, you need social skills. Social skills cover effective communication, the building of meaningful bonds, and the ability to cooperate with others.

emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence helps you manage your emotions, connect with others, and lead teams.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Translate into Practice During a Pandemic? 

To lead during times of exceptional stress, you need to keep yourself in top emotional shape. You cannot convey self-confidence and inspire courage if you fall apart emotionally. You are supposed to teach your teams to not only cope with but to succeed—even under unfavorable circumstances.

To awaken your inner drill sergeant, you need to be able to control your state of mind. But do not forget about the physical aspects of keeping in shape. Work out, eat well, and get enough sleep. Try to stick to your regular routine.

Draw up a communication management plan and be aware that you will have to step up the frequency of your communications. Some executives have doubled the number of periodic meetings to address the increased need for calm, precise, and honest communication.

Consider the perspective of your reports and employees in the way you communicate. Address their fears but refrain from embellishing the situation. Stick to the company line and do not disseminate information your superiors have not authorized you to communicate.

Offer encouragement and let people know that this is a situation that will not last forever. You may not have a large-enough personal reservoir of positive references upon which you can rely in this respect, given the peculiarity of the COVID-19 crisis, but you may have lived through the 2008 economic downturn as an executive. Use what you know to inform your actions during this unprecedented time.

Make sure that everyone on your team has equal access to technology. Do not allow a technology handicap to exclude anyone from the communication loop.

Be inclusive in your communication. Virtual meetings will never supplant the personal nature of physical proximity. Try to address and engage everyone in the meeting one-on-one and one-by-one. Do not lose sight of the fact that these pandemic-ridden times are more stressful for older employees and those with weakened immune systems.


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