Cultivating a well-led world, one leader at a time

The Leaders Almanac: Employee Engagement and Leadership Effectiveness

Posted by Holly Seaton on Feb 21, 2014 12:20:00 PM
Holly Seaton
 - by Holly Seaton, Ph.D.

For organizations, employee engagement and the financial bottom line are all impacted by the emotional competence of their leaders.

Developing the emotional capacity of leaders impacts both employee engagement and the financial bottom line. At the intersection of neurobiology, and leadership behaviors lies the essential emotional tools collectively called “emotional intelligence."

How leaders handle themselves and their relationships correlates with heightened engagement of those they lead. Leadership development programs may not encourage opportunities for growth and practice in these critical emotional capabilities. While these critical emotional capabilities in leaders consistently account for more than 60% of their organizational success, leadership development programs may not invest enough in providing opportunities for growth and practice.

Most effective leaders experience doubt, anxiety and overload, yet they are skilled in  recognizing, managing and using these emotions appropriately in decision making and to communicate with inspiration, impacting employee morale and performance. In the research-based model The Leadership Challenge, researchers Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have identified 30 behaviors of exemplary leadership, organized into The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Effective leaders can utilize their emotional skills of self-awareness and good relationship management to impact these critical leadership behaviors. 

The emotionally capable leader:

  1. Is a skilled listener, understanding that” actively” listening to “ diverse points of view” shows dignity and respect for others. They validate any assumptions they make by clarifying and listening deeply to uncover opportunities for growth and innovation.
  2. Recognizes, normalizes, labels and manages their own emotions, allowing a longer view.  They then use these emotions to show appreciation, challenge, or enable others to higher performance by making an empathic connection while communicating a forward view.

  3. Actively practices focused attention. Through this practice they manage the increasing distractions to pay attention to what matters. They make space to reflect on their own leadership development plan and hold accountability for new behaviors.

  4. Is assertive, willing to speak from their position. They also understand that what they say must match what they do to earn credibility and loyalty.

  5. Cultivates practices that enhances resilience. They know how to regulate their stress for adaptability and optimism while navigating through change and critical decision making.

Organizations will be wise to value and invest in development opportunities to enhance emotional capabilities of their leaders, it may make the difference in who is “willingly followed."

 Editor's Note:

In Holly Seaton’s topic this month, The Emotionally Competent Leader: Employee Engagement and Leadership Effectiveness, a theme emerges that causes us to be mindfully aware of our personal emotional intelligence. As leaders, we need to look inward to understand how our outward behaviors are perceived by our constituents and followers. Holly’s five descriptors are a great start. The emotionally capable leader is just that--a leader who expands his or her emotional capacity by continuous behavioral self-awareness and self-improvement. Yet, that leader is careful not to live in the place of “self” for long but, rather, in that sweet spot of building even more capable, emotionally intelligent leaders.


The Leadership ChallengeOver 25 years of ongoing research, with data from over 3 million individuals makes The Leadership Challenge® the most trusted name in developing leaders. For more information on this leadership development model, click below. 

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Topics: Learning and development, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Executive Development, Emotional Intelligence