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5 Key Leadership Competencies for Emotionally Intelligent Women

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Two young women sitting at a table and talking

Social and emotional intelligence allows women leaders to increase influence, improve relationships, and inspire others. As leaders, women often have to walk a fine line between being seen as bossy and being an effective leader.

Having these 5 leadership competencies related to social and emotional intelligence can help you thread the needle and improve your interpersonal relationships.


When James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, authors of the classic book The Leadership Challenge, asked people around the world about the qualities they most looked for in a leader, the number one answer for more than 30 years has been honesty.

In order to form a positive relationship with someone, they must trust you, especially if you want that person to follow you. Consistency between what you say and what you do is crucial to managing a successful workplace.

After all, why would an employee put much value in the word of a leader who has frequently broken their word? Or someone who talks about integrity but whose actions don’t match up with what they say?

Many people see the leaders they choose to follow as a reflection of themselves and when their moral values align, it creates strong bonds. When you’re open with the people around you and walk the talk, you become someone worth seeking out.

Women leaders may struggle with trying to please everyone or feel afraid to speak their mind, but in order to truly progress, they must be sincere in their actions and not be afraid to potentially step on some toes by being honest.


Resilience is perseverance and diligence in the face of setbacks. Being a leader means that sometimes you will face difficulties and your team will look to you as an example of how to handle these difficulties.

Being a resilient leader helps you bounce back quickly from disappointments and cope with changes. You are a calming presence in the face of turmoil and you can confidently guide others with clear communication and composure.

Women have a tendency to spend more time brooding over their mistakes and blame themselves when things go wrong more than men do. While some reflection on where you went wrong can be helpful to prevent future mistakes, constantly revisiting the past and beating yourself up will only keep you stuck in a negative mindset and unable to move forward. Resilient leaders accept that a mistake happened and then move on.

To improve your resilience, learn to be aware of your response to stressful situations and practice coping in a healthy way. When mistakes or setbacks happen, take a step back and put the situation into perspective before responding rashly or sinking into despair.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The way we manage our relationships is key in how successful we are as leaders. Interpersonal effectiveness is possessing diplomacy, tact and interpersonal skills, and knowing how to use them to ease transactions and relationships with others. It's the ability to relate well and build rapport with all people.

Naturally, these types of skills are essential for leaders to build an effective team. Whether you’re a leader in the workplace, a volunteer organization, or even your own home, emotionally intelligent leaders understand how to gracefully navigate relationships with a variety of different types of people.

Interpersonal effectiveness helps you understand the individuals you work with and how you can best communicate with and encourage them. Women are often more comfortable working on building rapport with their colleagues and find it easier than men.

However, if you have trouble with interpersonal skills, try practicing your active listening and be extra conscious of the words you use. Simple being more aware of yourself and the other person during a social interaction can help you spot the areas where things could improve.

Inspirational Leadership

Inspirational leadership involves motivating, guiding and mobilizing individuals and groups and being able to articulate a clear, compelling and motivating vision for the future. The best leaders are those who can inspire those around them to reach great heights on a personal and organizational level.

It’s key to keep in mind that the more we understand the people we lead, then we can better know what it will take to inspire them. You want to develop your team members to be the best they can possibly be, even if it means that their skills and knowledge allow them to “surpass” you or leave the organization.

Finally, an inspirational leader knows when to let go and let their team members do the work themselves. Women often find it hard to delegate and feel the need to have control in order to meet the pressure of perfection, but you need to let people learn and work for themselves.

Failure is going to happen, no matter how much you try to control things, so let go and work together to pick up the pieces if something does go wrong. Your team members will be grateful for the opportunity to learn on their own and for your support.

Conflict Management

Conflict management is often the part of leadership that people dread the most. It’s never fun or easy to resolve a disagreement, but it’s critical that leaders are able to do so. Conflict can cause disruptions to productivity and tension among team members if left unresolved.

For women, conflict management can be difficult because they struggle to keep their emotions out of the situation or may be perceived as “too emotional” by others to be a mediator. Women leaders may also struggle with getting up the courage to address a conflict or sensitive subject.

However, working on your emotional intelligence will help you to better manage your emotions and assist with managing the emotions of others. As a leader, you need to be a neutral party that helps both sides clearly communicate the problem and work to find a resolution.

We can’t manage others, but we can manage our own emotions and our relationships with others. Improving and practicing social and emotional intelligence skills will help you become a better and more effective leader.

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