Week of 13 July 2020
The need for emotionally intelligent leaders is greater than ever. As we ride out the coronavirus pandemic, leaders of both nations and businesses are put to the test every day to protect their people from the disease and its impact on their future. But is emotional intelligence an innate quality or can it be learned? And why is it so important for leaders to have it? Let’s take a Deep Dive.  

👥Emotional intelligence, which is also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions as well as that of those around you. Traditionally, this trait has taken a backseat when it comes to leadership, as opposed to other more rational qualities such as confidence, competence, influence and a high IQ. 

👩🏾‍💼But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that an impactful leader is one that also leads with empathy, adaptability and compassion. In fact, leaders who are both self-aware and socially aware are great for the company. According to studies, compassionate managers are generally more engaged with their team members, who in turn are more productive and less likely to leave their jobs.

🗣️If you find yourself losing the emotional connection with your team, you may not always be doing it consciously. Research has shown that when we have more power within an organisation, we tend to be more stressed and distracted and less mindful of what our colleagues are going through. The trick is to catch yourself and make it a habit to listen and be fully present when someone is voicing their concerns to you.

🧠All is not lost if you’ve just realised that you haven’t been a very mindful leader. Just like how we can train our muscles to become stronger, we can also teach our brain to feel more compassion. It takes practise to be present whenever you encounter a difficult situation, instead of pushing your feelings aside or rashly acting on them.


“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but… they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.”

— Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who is credited for popularising the term “emotional intelligence” in his best-selling book of the same name




1964 The term “emotional intelligence” was first used in 1964 by Michael Beldoch, an American clinical professor of psychology. 

2x A company can double its profits by having an emotionally intelligent leader in place, according to the Gottman Institute.

90% A study found that 90 percent of high-performing workers had high EQ.   

80% About 80 percent of adult success is determined by your emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman.


According to a study, individuals with high emotional intelligence earn more than their low EQ counterparts. How much more do they make a year on average?

A. US$15,000
B. US$29,000
C. US$41,000

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.


In 2013, Xi Jinping, who had just been inaugurated as the president of China, had people divided about his answer to a question on whether EQ or IQ is more important to be a good communist leader. He said, “EQ is important for adapting to society, although it should be used together with professional knowledge and techniques.”


5 Stories To Get You Up To Speed
  1. How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill
    Harvard Business Review

  2. 5 Reasons We Need Emotionally Intelligent Leaders In Times Of Crisis
    Fast Company
  3. The Top 4 Choices Of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
  4. Tuning In, Turning Outward: Cultivating Compassionate Leaders In A Crisis
    McKinsey & Company
  5. New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader On The Planet
    The Atlantic


The World’s Worst Boss

In this video compilation of scenes from The Office, we see an example of a leader with low EQ in the form of Michael Scott, the main character of the American TV series played by actor Steve Carrell


Two Effective Leaders To Know
The Innovator
Elon Musk
The co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk has long been praised for his ability to communicate with emotional intelligence. This includes personally responding to the concerns of Tesla customers and welcoming feedback—good and bad—from consumers and employees about his own work.

The Businesswoman
Indra Nooyi
The former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi is not only known for her business acumen but also for her candour and unique leadership style. An advocate of emotionally intelligent leadership, she isn’t afraid to express her personality and is even said to sometimes sing aloud in the office. Nooyi also wrote letters to the parents of her team members telling them that their son or daughter was doing a good job. And when she was at the helm, the company’s corporate mission was to combine financial success with social responsibility in what she terms “performance with purpose”



Did you miss our Deep Dive on How To Work With Family? Read it here


Feel Your Feelings
Animated films aren’t just for children. The 2015 movie Inside Out is packed with lessons about dealing with emotions and change—many of which are useful for people in leadership positions. These include the importance of letting others know that you care and understanding how to harness their strengths.


The New Race To Space

That's it for this issue. Have a productive week!

The Deep Dive is a weekly close-up look at an idea, issue or trend that’s shaping Asia’s future. This issue was written by Chong Seow Wei, with editing and production by Samantha Topp and Lee Williamson.

We’d love to know what you think of this issue, and future topics you’d like us to cover. Please send your comments to And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out last week’s Deep Dive, on How To Work With Family.

The answer to the quiz is B (US$29,000).

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