Should Leaders Focus More on Emotional Intelligence or Mental Strength?

May 18, 2023

cheering after a climb

Overview: Mature, intelligent leaders are mentally strong and emotionally intelligent. It makes no sense for leaders to chase mental strength over emotional intelligence or vice-versa. The two are complementary and combine to allow leaders to inspire others through their resilience and ability to handle challenges.

Emotional intelligence and mental strength are not mutually exclusive leadership qualities. Ultimately, they’re intertwined. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are parts and facilitators of mental strength.

Leaders don’t have to choose one over the other. By focusing on one, they facilitate the other and vice-versa.

Leadership coaching considers self-awareness and emotional intelligence among the cornerstones of intelligent leadership. These two abilities act as the foundation of other essential leadership skills. Inspirational leadership is impossible without either of the two.

To understand how emotional intelligence relates to mental strength, we should break down both concepts.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, manage, and understand the implications of emotions in oneself and others. Emotionally intelligent people understand how their biases distort decisions. They also understand what behaviors the biases and emotional states of others can trigger.

From the perspective of leadership coaching, intelligent leadership centers on inspiration. Good leaders inspire and motivate people. To achieve this, they understand the emotions and emotional reactions of others.

Emotional intelligence also helps leaders avoid or solve problems and make good judgments. Here’s how leadership coaching breaks down the components of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness. Being self-aware is the starting point of emotional intelligence. To pick up others’ emotional vibrations, leaders must first decipher their own. When they do, they become aware of how their emotions affect others.
  • Self-regulation. Self-aware leaders understand how they can disrupt behaviors their negative emotions may trigger. Self-regulation allows leaders to control their behaviors at the source.
  • Self-motivation. Learning to recognize and manipulate their emotions grants leaders the power to nip the bad ones in the bud and facilitate positive behaviors. Self-aware leaders can motivate themselves, finding higher purposes in their work.
  • Social skills. The ability to understand and shape emotions endows leaders with social superpowers.
  • Empathy. Emotionally intelligent people find it easy to place themselves in the emotional and mental shoes of others Those capable of identifying with the emotions of others can meet needs and understand perspectives better.

What is Mental Strength?  

Executive coaching defines mental strength as the ability to handle stress and rebound from setbacks. Executive coaching specialists may equate mental strength with resilience. They may also define links between mental strength and leadership maturity.

Leader coaching.
Leadership maturity requires emotional intelligence and mental strength.

Mentally strong leaders maintain composure under stress. They don’t allow challenges and setbacks to overwhelm them, and they don’t lose their abilities to think critically when facing adversity.

Here’s how executive coaching defines the components of mental fortitude:

  • Managing and regulating emotions. Self-regulation, or the ability to disrupt behaviors negative emotions tend to trigger while promoting positive behaviors, is a component emotional intelligence and mental strength share.
  • Shaping thoughts. Mentally strong people can train their minds to behave productively under pressure, ignoring self-doubt or excessive self-criticism.
  • Taking productive action. Taking action that later improve one’s life is not self-evident, but neither is this a primal behavior. Delaying gratification requires discipline, foresight, and motivation.

The relationship between emotional intelligence and mental strength is complementary. Mental strength reaches beyond emotional intelligence while standing on its shoulders. Mental strength may have a more direct and palpable impact on our quality of life.

Leadership coaching can define the differences between emotional intelligence and mental strength more clearly as follows:

  • Emotional intelligence boosts leadership abilities tied to interpersonal skills and social interaction.
  • Mental strength builds individual resilience, enabling leaders to handle adversity better and to achieve a higher level of maturity.

Leadership maturity combines the powers and benefits of emotional intelligence and mental strength. It can help leaders build maturity with all the components and sub-components it entails.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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