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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

October 22, 2018

Career Development

Emotional and cultural intelligence in leaders.

Boardroom meeting of diverse individuals with cultural intelligence

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Many people believe emotional intelligence is just one of those buzzwords floating around, a nice idea or a touchy-feely element of life, but in reality it’s a crucial skill. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to be aware of, control, and express emotions. It’s also the ability to handle relationships with empathy. An employee or leader with emotional intelligence is likely to be more successful than someone without it, because they are able to explain their thought process, navigate relationships, and be more liked. There are important elements that come with emotional intelligence including self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management.


Emotional self awareness means that leaders understand their feelings and emotions about particular situations or issues. They are able to take stock about how they feel, and not allow those feelings to cause problems as they make decisions. For many people, it can be difficult to self-evaluate and understand emotions. Leaders with emotional intelligence can be greatly beneficial to organizations as they have self-awareness and control over their emotions.


When leaders have self-awareness, it leads to self-management. Self-management means emotional control, which helps leaders not be influenced or make decisions solely based on their emotions. They are also able to be adaptable to changes because they recognize how changes make them feel, and can move forward and deal with those feelings. Their understanding of their emotions helps them maintain a positive attitude and set goals for the future. As emotionally intelligent leaders practice self-management, they are in control of all the situations they are placed in. This makes them invaluable to organizations.

Social awareness.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to have empathy for the people that work for them. Because they understand their own emotions, they are also able to be socially aware of the emotions and feelings of others. This social awareness translates to organizational awareness for the company as a whole. They can understand how emotions impact other people, how team dynamics and emotions impact the organization, and more. This behavior of social awareness helps them be connected to employees and work well as they empathize with others.

Relationship management.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are great leaders. Studies prove that emotionally intelligent leaders are able to gain the trust of employees and clients, as well as foster repeat business. Emotional intelligent leadership involves being a positive influence on employees, are positive coaches and mentors, and inspire those that they lead. Because emotionally intelligent leaders understand their own emotions, they are able to better understand the emotions of others, which helps them interact well with employees. Being aware of emotions helps relationships of trust grow. When employees or clients feel like their feelings are heard and understood, they instantly feel trusting of the leader. Emotionally intelligent leaders are also experts at conflict resolution; they help their employees gain emotional intelligence to work out their emotions and issues with other employees. Their understanding of feelings, and their empathy for others, helps them foster teamwork and problem solving throughout the organization.

Diverse team celebrating cultural intelligence

What is cultural intelligence (CQ)?

Cultural intelligence measures their ability to relate, and work well in culturally diverse situations. If a leader has cultural intelligence, they are more ready to effectively lead and work with culturally diverse people. Similarly, cultural intelligence measures an outsider’s ability to come into the culture of a workplace and easily fit in, and work well with the team. For leaders that are coming into a new company or job, this cultural intelligence is key to helping their team and colleagues trust, and like them.


Cultural intelligence starts with the drive that leaders have to try and adapt to a culturally different environment. The cultural intelligence drive involves the enjoyment a leader gets from cultural differences, the tangible benefits they receive, and the confidence they have in approaching these situations. This cultural intelligence drive helps leaders desire to fit in well in their new culture.


The knowledge element of cultural intelligence means leaders understand how a culture shapes a company and how cultures vary between teams and departments. Between being able to look at cultures in different contexts, as well as the general information of cultures, the knowledge aspect of cultural intelligence can help leaders learn how to work with their employees.


Strategy of cultural intelligence involves the way leaders strategize and prepare for cross-cultural situations. Planning, being aware of the cultural situations, and checking in on how the planned interaction and the actual interaction are comparing. Leaders who use strategy are able to prepare and then execute cultural interactions well.


Culturally intelligent leaders are able to act appropriately in all kinds of cultural situations. By acting appropriately, they are able to accomplish goals and gain the trust and respect of their employees. Speech, verbal actions, and non-verbal actions are all elements of action cultural intelligence.

Diverse hands together showing cultural intelligence

Why do I need EQ and CQ?

As businesses evolve, become global, and diversify their employees, having emotional and cultural intelligence is crucial for leaders. Being able to control emotions, help employees understand their emotions, and work well with any kind of employee in any situation helps leaders be able to gain trust and accomplish goals for their company. If you look around in the world today, you can see many examples of emotional and cultural intelligence, and just as many examples of those who lack this intelligence.

How an online degree in business management enables EQ and CQ.

Many people find that continuing education helps them learn about emotional and cultural intelligence. A business management degree from an institution like Western Governors University has courses that discuss topics like communication, management, leadership, and more. Learning about these elements in a classroom setting can help leaders develop the awareness and ability to practice them in an actual office setting. An online university also has different cultural and social requirements, immediately requiring students to learn about emotional and cultural awareness as they navigate a unique university path. As you as a student work to complete an online business management degree, you’ll be well on your way to developing and cultivating your emotional and cultural intelligence as a business leader.

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