Leading Change with Emotional Intelligence!

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” – Oscar Wilde

In a world where we are expected to leave our emotions outside when we enter office, it is important to understand that we are but a bundle of emotions and emotions trigger actions. While we may expect people to act and behave without being at the mercy of their emotions, the truth is that we tend to get emotionally hijacked putting personal and organizational goals at risk. I would like to share some thoughts on how Emotions play a critical role during Change and why Leaders need to be Emotionally Intelligent for successful change management.

a. Emotions during Change
It is difficult to separate Emotions from Change. Anyone should be able to see the interplay of positive and negative emotions during change. While we may tag them as positive or negative, they reality is that they all are emotions with a specific purpose of providing information about something. Some of the emotions that people experience during change are – Anticipation, Anger, Fear, Apprehension, Grief, Sadness, Surprise, Annoyance, Optimism, Trust, Joy, Enthusiasm and more. We need to understand that 1.It is difficult to have change without emotions, 2.That there will be both positive and negative emotions, 3.That people can respond with different emotions, 4.That emotions are contagious and this emotional contagion can spread quickly across an organization and 5.That emotions, if not managed well, can sabotage the change program.

b. Leaders with EQ
All of us will agree on the importance of the role of the leader in leading and facilitating change. Those leaders who have high EQ (Emotional Quotient) are able to lead and facilitate change more effectively. Some of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership characteristics are

1.Leaders need to facilitate resonance by driving emotions positively instead of negatively, which creates dissonance. Resonance helps to bring out everyone’s best (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002).

2. The moods and signals of the leaders tend to impact others and send signals across the team and organization (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002) and it’s important for leaders to become self-aware & become aware of the impact of their emotions on others.

3. The organizational climate has an impact on the company performance, groups have moods & act collectively and employee’s perceptions of the organizational climate can be traced to the actions of the leader (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002).

4. The leader who can think about emotions accurately is better able to anticipate, cope and manage change effectively (Mayer & Caruso, 2002). Leaders high in EQ ensure that they and their teams are in the right frame of mind when handling sensitive tasks, they reflect on the emotional impact of their change programs on employees, they are able to empathize with the employees who could be impacted by change and they are able to nurture the desired emotional reactions required for the change.

5. Emotional and Social Intelligence helps to manage change by flexibly and realistically coping with the immediate situation, solving problems and making decisions (Bar-On, 2006). Leaders with high EQ are able to lead change programs effectively as they are flexible to adapt to changes, solve problems effectively by not letting emotions cloud them, and make the right decisions by using emotional information and avoiding rash/knee-jerk behaviours.

c. Tools for Leaders
I am sharing some tools and approaches which can help leaders to increase their own self awareness and facilitate change effectively. Some of them are

1. Self-Awareness – Leaders need to understand what EQ Competencies they are using more of and less of and chart a plan for their own development. EQ can be improved and leaders need to role model by taking charge of their own EQ development.

2. EQi-2.0 – Leaders can take an EQi-2.0 Self-assessment or EQi-2.0 Leadership assessment or EQi-2.0 360 degree assessment to get a reliable and valid report of their own EQ. EQi-2.0 will be an excellent EQ assessment as it has immense business applications in addition to measuring the EQ Competencies.

3. Group EQi – Leaders can understand the EQ of their leadership teams through the Group EQi report, understand the Highs & Lows from EQ perspective and leverage the strategies for action to impact organizational climate positively.

Leaders and organizations can choose an appropriate tool or assessment that suits their need, leverage the support of a Certified EQ Professional/EQ Coach to assess the current EQ Profile, plan the development of the required EQ Competencies and create self-awareness so that leaders are able to lead change with emotional intelligence.


Dr. Ragland Gamaliel

Director – Institute of Organization Effectiveness