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15 Signs of leaders with low emotional intelligence

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Emotionally intelligent leaders are a pleasure to be around. They are socially competent and comfortable in their own skin. This enables them to develop strong working relationships, make good decisions, focus on productivity and help others fulfill their potential.

Leaders With Low Emotional Intelligence Unfortunately there are too many leaders who display low emotional intelligence and therefore only succeed in upsetting and annoying people which has a negative impact on productivity. Here are 15 signs to watch out for:

  1. Blames others or makes excuses instead of taking responsibility.
  2. Withholds information.
  3. Lacks integrity and a sense of conscience. 
  4. Attacks, criticises, invalidates, lectures, advises and judges.
  5. Is highly egotistical.
  6. Acts out their feelings, rather than talking them out. 
  7. Plays games; is indirect or evasive. 
  8. Has little empathy and is insensitive to others’ feelings. 
  9. Is defensive and finds it hard to admit mistakes or apologise sincerely.

   10.  Holds many distorted and self-destructive beliefs which cause persistent negative emotions.

   11.  Frequently feels inadequate, resentful, bitter or victimised. 

   12.  Is inflexible; needs rules and structure to feel secure. 

   13.  Shows little self awareness of how their actions impact others. 

   14.  Is a poor listener. Interrupts and/or invalidates others’ contributions. 

   15.  Has limited strategies for dealing with stress and stressful situations.

If you can spot some of these tendencies, think about how you might counteract them eg. Stop interrupting others when they speak or be more forthcoming with information and feelings.

Remember that emotionally intelligent leaders:

  • Let go of their mistakes– they don’t beat themselves up, they take responsibility, and then focus on what they would do next time or find a solution to the problem.


  • Know their strengths and weaknesses– they appreciate that they’re not good at everything so play to their strengths and delegate or find support for areas of weakness.


  • Neutralize toxic people– they don’t engage in negative talk, complaining or whining. Neither do they tolerate it from others, instead they cut it off or re-direct the conversation.


  • Disconnect and decompress– they have numerous strategies to let off steam and relax both in the workplace and outside so they don’t take their stresses home.Disconnect
  • Stop negative self talk– they replace any negative thoughts and self talk with something more positive, motivating or solution focused.


  • Are curious about others– they are genuinely interested in other people’s views, ideas and opinions and so ask lots of questions and are prepared to listen to the answers.


  • Are difficult to offend/upset– they feel secure about themselves and have a good level of self awareness, understand how they impact on others and can rationalize situations to remain objective – especially where emotion is involved.
  • Use assertive communication– they ensure their communication is objective, two-way, clear, concise and appropriate for the situation.
  • Understand and use their emotion – they understand that emotions are signals so they pay attention to what their emotions are telling them and use the information to motivate themselves, take action or rise to a challenge.

If you’d like to learn more about our emotional intelligence courses contact

Emotional Intelligence

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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