4 Characteristics of The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Resized Blog post image (1).png

“Organizational relationships are complex. Emotional intelligence is the skillset we need to navigate and build effective teams”.  

- Bret Wells, Missional Wisdom Foundation

When you ask people why they leave organizations, they often mention the words, “bad boss” or “terrible leadership.”

No amount of work will ever feel as draining and challenging as an abrasive, bossy, self-centered leader. Then there’s the leader who can be fairly nice to the most of them but insert them into a situation where there is stress or conflict and their shadow side turns them into a scary monster that no one wants to be around.

If you’re a leader who is gracious enough to admit you need to change, there’s good news – you can change and be viewed as an inspiration to those around you. A real inspiration – not the kind where your employees blow smoke up you’re a$$ just to keep their jobs.

That change is delivered through a healthy and consistent dose of emotional intelligence.

IQ vs. EQ - Which One is More Important?

Long has IQ been considered the single, most important parameter of one’s success in life and at work. However, today’s experts recognized that, while high IQ is beneficial for one’s academic, work and life success, it is not crucial. As explained by Kendra Cherry in her article “IQ or EQ: Which One Is More Important?”, it is true that “the concept of emotional intelligence has had a strong impact in a number of areas, including the business world. Many companies now mandate emotional intelligence training and utilize EQ tests as part of the hiring process. Research has found that individuals with strong leadership potential also tend to be more emotionally intelligent, suggesting that a high EQ is an important quality for business leaders and managers to have”.

Why Does Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) Matter in the Workplace?

To work successfully with others, you must be able to read and understand their expectations, and act in a way that nobody's sensibility, intellect, and ambition are compromised.

In the 21st century workplace, social intelligence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence of both leaders and the employees play a crucial role in creating the most respectful and productive work environment possible.  

According to the company 6seconds, emotional intelligence in the workplace is, not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

Healthy levels of EQ in a leader improve relationships, effectiveness, influence, and decision making in the workplace all while keeping everyone’s quality of living healthy.

“If we want leaders who can navigate through today’s challenges, foster innovation, and build organizations where people thrive — we need to equip them with the skills of emotional intelligence”, explains 6seconds. They further add that “research shows these learnable, measurable skills improve leadership effectiveness, retention, organizational climate, and the bottom line.”

Emotional intelligence helps “organizations reap the benefits of EQ when they go beyond “training” and integrate the competencies into operations and use it to shape culture”. So, there’s that - in a nutshell.

To help you navigate the world of EI/EQ, I’m sharing four characteristics typical of every emotionally intelligent leader. If you’re looking to increase your likeability factor, improve your connection with your team, and become a better leader, keep these in mind.

Four Characteristics Of The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

1. They Give Respect to Get Respect

No matter how hot your new strategy is, how popular you are in the business community, or how relevant you are in your industry; you won’t gain respect by treating people like they are not relevant. Whether they are veterans with 10+ years of experience, or new kids on the block looking to learn from you, be respectful of their ideas, effort, and suggestions.

Even if you disagree with them, you still need to make an effort. Otherwise, don't expect them to respect you.

Great leaders don’t demand respect because of authority, position or knowledge. They exude it in their daily actions and offer it in copious amounts. They also offer it to everyone.

Ever encounter a leader who is only nice to people of importance? Or one that is full of smiles and pleasantries when interacting with someone who might be able to further their goals? Ever talk to them and sense they are being condescending and belittling you? Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t do this. They offer respect because they believe people deserve it, not solely because respect buys them favour.

2. They Are Not Self-Absorbed or Socially Tone Deaf

A narcissistic boss (aka egomaniac) is the type of a person who continually (and actively) overemphasizes their importance, expertise, talents, and capacity to multitask and handle teams/individual employees/projects/activities/etc., while making everyone else around them feel inferior and worthless.

They don’t tolerate criticism or dissension and want their wishes attended to immediately.  Paradoxically, the society tends to view these types of bosses as “ruthless, successful, and goal-oriented”, completely neglecting the toxic aspect of their personality.  

Unlike narcissistic bosses, emotionally intelligent leaders have the capacity to detach themselves from the situation, admit when they went overboard and create a team that doesn’t make people work FOR but WITH him/her. Everyone’s allowed a tantrum or two per year, but there is a difference behind occasional outbursts and a behavioral constant.

When you know your importance inherently, you don’t feel the need to seek an external ego-boost either from your employees or your immediate private circle. A healthy self-awareness is making you much more worthy as a person, and a more capable leader.

3. They Don’t Ascribe Intent*

People tend to identify with their professions, which usually leads to developing an emotional and unrealistic attachment to both their positions and the people they work with.

It is not uncommon to have bosses assume that every wrongdoing of their employees, every error or a “disobedient attitude” is intended to undermine their authority or is done to anger them.

99.99% of the time they're delusional. With so many things to do in a day, who's got the time to plot stuff?

After all, mistakes happen, and that argument alone should do it.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are smart enough not to let assumptions run their game. They are capable of differentiating reality from supposition, making them perfectly capable of running a team without being biased or difficult.

*Ascribing intent is when things aren’t about us, but we assume they are.

4. They Don’t Take Things Personally

In the 21st century, jobs are no longer jobs - they are our ID cards. They are the first thing we think of or talk about when someone asks us about ourselves.

As pointed out in Brianna Wiest’s article for Forbes, 7 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don't Do At Work, “People are sensitive about work in the way they are sensitive about money.” Understandably, “this leads to a lot of self-consciousness, fear, and projection,” all of which can be problematic for how we interact with the people we work with.  

Work occupies a huge part of our self-identity so the moment someone tries to question what we do, or worse - examine our entire management style, we take it personally, and let our distressing emotions get the best of us. It potentially results in some unpleasant situations, confrontations, resentment, biased feedback, backstabbing, and so many more unfortunate circumstances.

It also makes the workplace extremely dysfunctional and unsafe for the people on the receiving end of the leader’s wrath.

Emotionally intelligent leaders know not to take things to heart. If anything, they try to read every comment as constructive criticism, an honest joke, or a moment of learning. Why? Because when you are emotionally intelligent, you understand that a) everyone’s entitled to an opinion b) not everyone has to like your management style c) your self-worth shouldn’t be attached to someone else’s definition of you.

Emotional intelligence plays one of the crucial roles in a workplace, primarily when we are entrusted with the privilege of being in a role of leadership. Leadership requires effort and ownership.

If you do your best to focus on your people skills and your emotional intelligence, you are guaranteed to become a more inspiring human. One that is loved and respected by choice, not out of obligation.

P.S. If you’re curious about your EQ score, reach out and I’d be happy to help you determine where you stand, and what areas need improvement.




Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in behavioral and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

Resized Blog post image.png

One of the most common problems that working people face worldwide is the chronic lack of focus.

In a world where we are bombarded with stimuli from social media, apps, and our computers, it’s no wonder we suck at being efficient.

Research indicates that employees on average waste as much as 60 hours every month on various distractions. That’s a significant amount of wasted time.

According to various studies, once your brain is distracted, it takes between 5 and 15 minutes for the brain to recalibrate and get back on track.

In the interest of being focused, let’s jump in and talk about some common focus-killers and effective strategies to tackle this elephant – one bite at a time.

Common Workplace Distractions

  • Phones - Since accessing your social media profiles is a couple of clicks away, it's easy to fall into the temptation to glance at your iPhone every couple of minutes.
  • E-mails - Another time waster is constantly checking emails.
  • Hunger - This one may sound like a no-brainer, but hunger is one of the primary culprits for lack of concentration in the workplace.
  • Multitasking - Often seen as valuable skill, multitasking is actually a nasty vice that's bound to drain your energy and leave you disoriented and disorganized.
  • Idle Chatter - Even though having regular conversations with your colleagues are vital to a healthy corporate culture, too many random interruptions are detrimental to productivity.

Who’s the culprit?

The part of your brain that is the most responsible for managing focus, is the prefrontal cortex.

It is closely connected to key functions such as decision so it’s calling the shots when it comes to managing your thoughts and actions. It also plays a major part in regulating our attention span. Essentially – the part of the brain that is responsible for concentrating on a task, is also the most susceptible to getting distracted.

The good news is that neuroscience research has revealed that our brains are plastic, and they can be trained to become more focused.

So, how do you train your brain? I’ve listed seven ways to do this.

Seven Ways to Improve Your Focus

1. Be Mindful – Mindfulness comes in two forms but I’ll focus on just one of them here – informal mindfulness. This involves paying close attention to the little things we do every day – something we often miss because of the busyness of our work days.

Cultivating it fair fairly simple, but it requires consistency. It also requires you to have an open mind because this stuff may seem a little bizarre. I work with engineers and technical leaders who think initially think this these techniques are silly – until they try it!  

A couple daily practices where you can apply this:

  • The next time you wash your hands, pay close attention to the temperature of the water, watch how your hands interact with the water and soap, Watch closely and be fully immersed in the experience.
  • When you drink your next cup of coffee or tea, observe the smell, taste and even the sound of you sipping that beverage. Again, be in the moment and avoid gulping it down with a phone in one hand and the computer in front of you.

2. Switch It Off – Way too many people check their phones every few minutes. Research indicates that employees tend to spend an average of 56 minutes on their cellphones every day (and that’s just while they’re at work).

We live in a world, where people feel deprived if they don’t have their phones on them. Resisting this device is perhaps one of the most challenging battles of the 21st century. Discipline will help you train your brain to focus on what matters.

Turn your phone off when you’re working on specific projects. And don’t stop there. Put it away -in a drawer or some place you can’t easily access. Seeing it infront of you is enough of a temptation.

Remind yourself that the only time you can take a look at it, is once you’ve completed the piece of work that you were focused on. Sometimes that means putting it away for 30 minutes, sometimes it means 5 hours.

3. Stop The Dinging - If you’re notorious for turning on notifications on your phone or computer, know this - you’re feeding your brain crack. Not literally but close. Research has proven that we get a high from being notified that someone liked our post or sent us a message. Turn those notifications off if it causes you to check your phone every time it findings.

4. Breathe - Engage in the practice of steady breathing by setting aside two minutes each day to notice your breath. Find a comfy spot with little distraction. Breathe in through your nose, breathe out through your mouth. When you breathe in, feel the air enter your lungs, expand into your chest, and then into your stomach. When you exhale, feel the tension being released.

5. Walk -  If you’re feeling unfocused and overwhelmed, stop. Get out of your office or workstation. If possible, get outside and into the fresh air. Walk for about 5 minutes and when you’re back at your desk, the next 55 minutes will be the most productive they’ve been.

6. Create Flow - In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, the renown psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states that happiness and joy in life can be achieved through creating a personal raison d’être for ourselves.

Rather than resorting to  external quick-reward mechanisms, having a sort of ‘unifying theme’ in life helps us achieve serenity and joy regardless of the surrounding circumstances and distractions. If you’re interested in human nature and what makes humans move forward, you should definitely check out this book!

7. Meditation - Meditation can do wonders for concentration. Successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and even UFC’s tough guy Joe Rogan are known to practice meditation on a daily basis.

Meditating relaxes your tensed up body, clears brain fog, and helps you reset your thoughts in a relatively short period of time. Anyone can do it, and you don’t need a meditation room and a special calming setting to do this. 10 minutes in your office or car might end up being just fine, if that’s all you have.

If you’re unsure how to get started, there’s help, and it’s in the form of an app called Headspace. My clients swear by it.

Now that you know these 7 strategies, you should be less likely to be distracted by cat videos and the dinging of your phone.

Even Tibetan monks are bound to divert their attention from their tasks every now and again, but giving in to various distractions on a regular basis can hamper your productivity and waste tons of time for no good reason.

That being said, the art of focus isn’t rocket science. All you need is a little bit of effort and intention.

Science says that our brains are only as effective as we train them to be so reading this article is step 1. It’s time to put theory into practice.

P.S. If you’re a neuroscience geek like I am, here are some additional techniques to exercise your prefrontal cortex (focus center) and getting it moving like a well-oiled engine.


Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in  behavioural and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.


Copy of Resized Blog post image.png

Talk to the 5 most successful entrepreneurs around you. You'll notice something - they keep moving.

When others said the economy is slow, times are tough or people aren't buying, they were focused on action.

Excuses lead to inaction. They take us to our safe place but they also paralyze us. We convince ourself it's ok that we're not bringing in business if others aren't either. That is a scarcity mindset. One that doesn't benefit you.

I'm a firm believer in the adage - CONTROL YOUR MIND OR IT WILL CONTROL YOU.

I asked a good friend how Alberta's economy had impacted his business. He told me the solution for them was simple - to focus their efforts on the U.S. market and on building their brand there. Given the value of the USD, it made sense. Their success in that market allowed them to keep all their staff in Calgary employed. They also spend 2016 focusing on what the next 5 years of their business could look like if they pushed 10 times harder.

They kept moving. Just in a different direction than they anticipated.

Inaction will draw you closer to the red line.

Be on a mission to act - to do something that propels your business towards one more sale, towards more exposure, towards your target. 

Successful people think from a place of possibility, not pessimism. They write their own stories and their internal narratives propel them to take risks and keep trying.

Their thoughts create 10X success in the short and long term.

You're the author of your business. Do everything it takes. Everything.

Move. Act. Push forward. Every single day.

You don't move --> You don't learn --> You don't grow --> You die.

What Happens When You Believe Your Own Bull$hit

Resized Blog post image(14).png

This isn't just great advice for startups but for any business. Beware of vanity metrics that make you feel like you're big and bad. "I have hundreds of people interested," sounds great in theory. How many of those you've converted, is the more important number.

I always remind my clients that if they start believing their own bull$hit, they're setting themselves up for failure.

In my own practice, I'm not immune to this either. I have to constantly remind myself not to inflate who I am and where I'm at. It might feed the ego but it won't do anything to move the needle on profitability. Your ego can be the death of your business so be careful of the stories you tell yourself.

Stay real. Stay humble. Stay hungry.