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Most emotionally intelligent people have these 12 traits. Which do you have?

The research is clear about the impact of quality leadership in schools. I have long argued that schools are people places. The ability of the leader to relate and connect with people has a huge impact on the effectiveness of the school. The leadership teams’ “people skills” has a massive impact on the engagement and well-being of staff.

According to Harvard Researcher, Daniel Goleman what really distinguishes the world’s most successful leaders is emotional intelligence or the ability to identify and monitor emotions (of their own and of others). Goleman argues that emotional intelligence is much more than being a well-liked manager who is kind, respectful, nice to be around and sensitive to the needs of others. Focusing on sociability and likability is too narrow a view and loses sight of other essential emotional intelligence traits.

The four domains of Emotional Intelligence include

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness and
  • Relationship Management

The four domains cover 12 core competencies.

Which do you have and where do you need to focus to be more effective in your role?


1 Self-Awareness is the capacity to tune into your own emotions. It allows you to know what you are feeling and why, as well as how those feelings help or hurt what you are trying to do. The core competency is emotional self-awareness. Understanding your own strengths and limitations comes from having clarity on your values and a sense of purpose.


2 Self-management is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control. This is especially important when dealing with a crisis and being under pressure. The core competencies of self-management are:-

you stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You know how to balance your feelings for the good of yourself and others.

Adaptability: this shows up as agility in the face of change and uncertainty. You are able to find new ways of dealing with fast moving challenges and can balance multiple demands at once.

Achievement orientation: you strive to meet or exceed a standard of excellence. You genuinely appreciate feedback on your performance and are constantly seeking ways to do things better.

Positive outlook: you see the good in people, situations and events. This is an incredibly valuable competency as it can build resilience and set the stage for innovation and opportunity.


3 Social awareness Is the ability to accurately read and interpret other people’s emotions through non-verbal cues. Socially aware leaders are able to relate to many different types of people, listen attentively and communicate effectively.

Empathy: you pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying and how they are feeling. You always try to put yourself in other people’s shoes in a meaningful way.

Organisational awareness: you can easily read the emotional dynamics within a group. You can sometimes even predict how someone on your team might react to certain situations, allowing you to approach situations strategically.


4 Relationship management is an interpersonal skill set that allows one to act in ways that motivate, inspire and harmonise with others, while also maintaining important relationships.

Influence: you are a natural leader who can gather support from others with relative ease, creating a group that is engaged, mobilised and ready to execute the tasks at hand.

Coach and mentor: you foster long term learning by giving feedback and support. You put your points into persuasive and clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations.

Conflict management: you are comfortable dealing with disagreements between multiple sides and can bring simmering disputes into the open and find win-win solutions.

Teamwork: you interact well as a group member and can work with others. You participate actively, share responsibility and rewards and contribute to the capability of your team as a whole.

Inspirational leadership: you inspire and guide others towards the overall vision. You always get the job done and bring out your team’s best qualities along the way.

Goleman’s list is a lovely description of the traits commonly found in great leaders. He advocates that leaders should use the list to identify areas to focus on and develop. However, I would argue that if leaders don’t have the first trait, good self-awareness, mere self-reflection is pointless. Unfortunately all of us have come across leaders who are delusional and don’t realise the negative impact that their behaviour has on the people they lead. It is therefore important that leaders seek regular, honest and open feedback about their leadership and the impact it has. Often this is in the form of 360 feedback or feedback from key groups eg staff, parents and students.

You can read the full article from Daniel Goleman HERE