A new acquaintance recently asked me my position on whether leaders are born or made. She referenced a colleague who she felt was predisposed to never excel at leadership. We all know someone who appears to be too shy, too aggressive or too analytical to be leadership material. Maybe we have been perceived as that someone.


With enough commitment anyone can grow into a leader. How? One way is by building Emotional Intelligence.


Daniel Goleman, the guru of Emotional Intelligence, has proven the phenomenon as the “one crucial way” that effective leaders are alike. Some of us have a higher “EQ” than others, but we all have the ability to grow smarter in these five components of intrapersonal (interacting with ourselves) and interpersonal (interacting with others) Emotional Intelligence:

Self Awareness
An understanding of our own feelings and behaviors provides the foundation of emotionally intelligent leadership.

Self Regulation
How we express our feelings greatly effects how we are seen as leaders. Thoughtful, well-managed actions help us establish likeability and integrity.

Good leaders harness an intrinsic desire to achieve, strive for improvement and see the future optimistically.

As one of the two interpersonal components of Emotional Intelligence, empathy represents our ability to understand and act in consideration of others’ feelings. It enables us to demonstrate that we care.

Social Skills
Forging relationships and working with others to achieve desired outcomes are the hallmarks of effective social skills. When we can understand, regulate and motivate ourselves, and related to others, we gain influence as leaders.


Taking an EQ assessment offers good insight on your current Emotional Intelligence, how it compares to most of the population, and opportunities for development. Prioritizing a few areas, establishing strategies to flex your emotional muscles, and enlisting a coach or advisor can help you prove that great leaders can be made.

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