emotional intelligenceQuality number #1 highlighted in the Leadership Effectiveness Profile? Emotional Intelligence. Unsurprisingly, leaders need at least a basic level of emotional intelligence in order to lead others effectively. Emotional intelligence means our capacity to recognize, understand and harness our own feelings and the feelings of others.

God himself embodies the ultimate ideal of emotional intelligence. He possesses not only all knowledge, but a deep understanding of the emotions and inner workings of every person. Look at the Psalms to see the intimacy with which God understands each one of us on a personal level:

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. (Psalm 139:1-4)

In the ministry of Jesus, we see emotional intelligence at every turn. Jesus listened and asked good questions. He displayed keen insight into motivations and feelings. Remember his conversation with Nicodemus? (John 3) With the woman at the well? (John 4) With Bartimaeus the blind man? (Mark 5) With the Pharisees, as he refused to become defensive or engage in fruitless debates? (Luke 20)

Consider the many ways Jesus demonstrated emotional intelligence in these conversations and others. We’re seeing a lot more than knowledge, correctness, and statements of fact. We’re seeing depth of insight and an understanding of human nature.

Other leaders throughout the Bible have echoed this emotional intelligence in their leadership. Nehemiah’s actions demonstrate depth of emotion, patience, intentional action, and the ability to handle conflict effectively. On the other hand, King Saul failed in these same areas… to his great detriment.

Maturity—not just of the mind but of the heart—is a key for effective leadership throughout the scriptures.

What are some ways you can explore and begin to improve your own level of emotional intelligence? If you’d like to dig deeper into this area, you could take a look at the Emotional Intelligence Skill Builder Booklet or the Emotional Intelligence Coaching Guide with Storyboard.

During this series of blog entries, we’re walking through the 8 characteristics highlighted in the Leadership Effectiveness Profile. These characteristics were found through observation and research in response to the question, “What makes an effective leader?”