Nine Attitudes of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders and Managers

by  Christina Lattimer  |  Workplace Issues

Like learning to drive, leading, and managing people is an experiential journey.

My entrance onto the leadership stage was when I was promoted, having stood in for the team leader from time to time. I don’t know about you, but although I had practiced at managing people, I hadn’t experienced it properly until I had to do it for real.

Junior leaders and managers are appointed because they have shown potential, displayed leadership skills, or are extremely good in the specific field they work in.  More senior leaders and managers have usually had a most distinguished career as a professional, such as doctor, lawyer or accountant. The next step for their career is to manage people with the same specialty.  An entrepreneurial business owner may be extremely successful and have acquired commercial business acumen and savvy long before they actually have to employ people.

So, people enter leadership and management at all stages.  Often, one’s success as a leader will be determined by his or her interpersonal skills. If these skills haven’t had a chance to develop, then even the most successful entrepreneur or professional may well find the going very tough indeed.

One of the most impactful people skills is Emotional Intelligence.  Wikipedia describes Emotional Intelligence as” the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.”

If you’ve ever witnessed someone throwing the temper tantrum of a two-year-old in an office, or have experienced the rumour mill as the most reliable communication channel, or have been subjected to an environment that thrives on a prevalent blame culture, then you know a situation where emotional intelligence is somehow lacking.

Even worse, if conflict is commonplace, and your people aren’t firing on all cylinders or even are openly disengaged, then you have may have a problem which stems from limited or unrecognized poor emotional intelligence.

Depending on our psychological profile, (thankfully we are all different), you may have brilliant emotional intelligence, or conversely you may need to develop this skill more.   The great thing about emotional intelligence is that if you are struggling, you can learn!

My first challenge as a young manager was learning how to control my own emotions.  In the early years, I was quite often daunted about having to deal with some larger-than-life characters I had to manage. Managing my fear was one of my first and probably my longest lessons.  I still feel afraid sometimes, but now I know how to deal with it, and it doesn’t faze me.

My second challenge was to learn how to manage the emotions of my team.  This stage was a long one and a steep learning curve.  The journey was interesting, thought provoking, and necessary.

The final stage in my learning came when I had to think about engaging large teams,  some of whom I didn’t see for months at a time. I did try to do the best I could to have physical contact as much as I could humanly manage. Trying to encourage people to feel good, fulfil their potential, and understand how much I appreciated them was more difficult. Although there are many skills attached to managing remotely, my own emotional intelligence was a key player in making remote management a success.

I have worked for and supported many managers and managed teams locally, regionally and nationally.   During this time I have practiced and observed which attitudes and behaviors have been the most successful in getting the best out of a team.  These attitudes and behaviors are  most commonly adopted by people who have honed their emotional intelligence skills and, as a result, have the best people skills. I have practiced these in the latter years, and wish I had access to them in the early years.

The Nine Attitudes are:

  • Accepting people completely for who they are
  • Always looking for the good in people (there is always some)
  • Dealing with negatives in an impersonal but practical way and getting over it!
  • Not judging – we all make mistakes
  • Giving people the benefit of the doubt
  • Listening to what people need and wherever possible – obliging
  • Responding neutrally to anger or other attacking behaviour and helping the person to reframe it in a positive way
  • Pivoting negative situations to achieve a positive outcome
  • Caring about people, even when they were difficult

You might be thinking that it all sounds unrealistic, given some of the people you might be managing.  But I can guarantee that if you think about it enough, they are all attitudes or stances you would like people to take with you.

Unfortunately we aren’t born with an instruction manual. That said, navigating and improving our own emotional intelligence often comes through our own life experiences and self-reflection. The good news is that there are some clear and easy steps to improving our own emotional intelligence and consequently, that of your team and organization.

If you would like to find out about 6 ground breaking secrets to accelerate your journey on developing great emotional intelligence, visit www.peoplediscovery.co.uk, and get your complimentary report, “The 6 Secrets of Great Emotional Intelligence for Inspirational Leaders and Managers.”  In it, I describe

  • The true purpose of emotions
  • How to achieve a more positive emotional state
  • How to break the cycle and create effective change
  • The four strategies for greater connection

I hope you enjoy, and would welcome any feedback or comments.

Photo (© RATOCA – Fotolia.com)

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What People Are Saying

Christina Haxton, MA LMFT  |  15 Jun 2012  |  Reply


Your post did an excellent job of describing the challenges of new managers (who are also leaders!) The 9 assumptions are simple and brilliant! Rules to strive to live by in all of our conversations – personal and professional.

To Your Sustainable Leadership!
Powerful connections … Sustainable Leaders … Extraordinary Peace of Mind.

Christina Lattimer  |  15 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Hi Christina, thanks for your encouraging comments. I agree they are rules to strive for. Some days I get there and some days I don’t but at least its a direction. I learned and observed them from some great people who demonstrated the principles, so am ever grateful to them. Hope you have a great weekend.


Jon Mertz  |  15 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Insightful article, Christina. Really enjoyed reading it!

When I think back to my first management role, I also think about the importance of having some self-confidence without being overly confident. I guess it came down to having a backbone when working with team members who were older than I was.

My point is each of the 9 attitudes are vital, and they need to be approached with a principle-based approach (meaning, not wilting at the first moment of test).

Thanks for your insights!


Christina Lattimer  |  15 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Hi Jon, thanks for your comments. You make an important point, the principles aren’t always easy and you do need to develop resilience. I think like you, I had to practice these and other positive behaviours through the experience of managing early. Thanks again and have a great weekend.


David Sena  |  15 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Great Article. I will be using it for some of my new leaders in our organization. I encourage my team to speak with their eyes. Make sure you watch the person (or people) to see their reaction to my words. They might be saying the right things but their body and facial language may tell a different story. This has been one of the best things I have learned.

I also want my team to move conversations forward by asking open-ended questions. Good questions tell people you are listening and not wanting to tell them your agenda. Creating good dialogue is important. There are some exceptions. Command situations have a different protocol (where real-time dialogue is limited to commands). However, protocols and planning can be developed prior to the real-time situation to ease miscommunication and maximize results.

Random Thoughts…

Dave Sena

Christina Lattimer  |  17 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Hi David

Thank you for commenting. I am heartened that you are approaching leadership from a behavioural/communication angle. I think it’s the one of the factors which contribute to great results. Thanks for the positive feedback about the attitudes, and hope that they are of use to you. I think we all intrinsically know these things: It’s our true universal language, but its much harder to put them into practice! Hope you’re having a great weekend and good luck with your new leaders!


Jorge Pirela M.  |  21 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Thank you Christina for your excelent article. I´ll learn to have a better attitudes not just for me, but for someone else. I´m from Caracas, Venezuela, and I´m a Gestalt Psychoterapist and specialist in drug addictions rehab. It was a pleasure to be in touch with you. Thanks again.

Christina Lattimer  |  22 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Thank you Jorge
I’m glad you liked the article. In some respects the attitudes are ideals to remember to practice as often as we can. Good luck in practicing and be kind to yourself on your journey.

Thanks again for your welcome feedback.


Christina Lattimer  |  22 Jun 2012  |  Reply

Thank you Jorge
I’m glad you liked the article. In some respects the attitudes are ideals to remember to practice as often as we can. Good luck in practicing and be kind to yourself on your journey.

Thanks again for your welcome feedback.


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