Poised, polished, and in control.  That’s how an emotionally intelligent female leader shows up. The most important skill every female leader needs is emotional intelligence (EQ).  This is her ability to manage her own emotions as well as manage the emotions of others.  Considering the fact that being “too emotional” is one of the stereotypes women face in the workplace, emotional intelligence is a skill that will help her navigate her way through some of the most challenging biases and scenarios of her career.

Being emotionally intelligent does not mean she is void of emotions, she is just conscious of how her emotions are displayed. If she is deemed too emotional, that could project her as a woman who is not strong enough to lead.  If she shows no emotion, she will be considered cold and lacking empathy. This is why the female leader has to master the art of finding just the right level of emotional balance.  When it comes to the emotions of others, emotional intelligence allows her to connect with her team because she understands their emotions and can be empathetic to their feelings.  This will help her to develop rapport and establish strong relationships with those whom she is in charge of leading. Being emotionally intelligent is a direct path to establishing trust. A team that trusts their leader is likely to be happy and productive, which makes life much easier for her.

Unfortunately, women leaders have to worry about things that her male counterpart does not. How she is perceived will have a major impact on how successful she will be as a leader. Consequently, women have to use a different “rule book” than men when it comes to winning in their careers.  They have to be more strategic and deliberate about every decision they make as a professional because they are often scrutinized more intensely than men. She has to be emotionally strong enough to deal with the obstacles that show up on her leadership path.

Emotional intelligence is what will guide her through her dealings with misogynist and gender biased behavior. The whole notion that “women are too emotional to lead effectively” comes from a male perspective.   Understanding how those who hold biased opinions think and feel will help her overcome the obstacles those opinions present and keep her shining as a leader.  She will have the prowess to work with those who doubt her and are waiting for an opportunity to discredit her.  She will be able to nurture the growth and development of staff who are talented but need encouragement. Her emotional intelligence will navigate her through conflict and strengthen her executive presence. Knowing when to show her poker face and when to soften up is a part of being emotionally intelligent. The key is, she needs to do both, and know when either is appropriate.

The emotionally intelligent woman is usually savvy and confident. She is able to anticipate responses and reactions and is prepared to deal with them in an emotionally intelligent way. Her ability to do this will gain her favor and allow her to lead more effectively. An emotionally intelligent woman is one who is in full control of herself and does not allow others to push her buttons easily.  This is not to say that she does not have days where she has to get folks together or does not get irritated. It’s just that a majority of the time she has it together in the emotional intelligence department and can check her emotions while dealing with the emotions of others.

When women reach the pinnacle of leadership they must be prepared to not only deal with the challenges that her position presents but also the challenges of being a woman who will be judged on her performance, not her potential. The female leader has extra pressure to produce results. She is usually working harder to defy the odds, and to disprove stereotypes and biases. As a female leader, she must be strong and firm, yet still be able to show compassion.

10 Signs of an Emotionally Intelligent Female Leader:

  1. She always knows the right thing to say
  2. Her demeanor is calm, even when there is a problem
  3. Others trust her and seek her out to help them when they are troubled
  4. She can hold her own under pressure
  5. She can articulate her feelings with clarity
  6. She advocates for the advancement of others and helps others get what they want
  7. She uses her voice and influence to invoke change
  8. She is effective in negotiations and conflict resolution
  9. She exudes resilience and courage
  10. She has a well-defined work/life balance. She has no problem turning off work and turning on play.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is essential to leadership, however, it’s a skill that not every leader has.  This is why it is like a superpower for those who have mastered it. Now that more leadership opportunities are opening up for women, it is important to understand the written and unwritten rules of engagement.  It is imperative to be prepared in all aspects possible to excel, especially if working in a male-dominated field, if you are the first woman, only woman, or one of only a few to hold the title or position.

You will know an emotionally intelligent woman by the fruit she bears. She will be ripe with influence, trust, and respect. These help her show up as a good leader and are why every SheBoss must be on point with EQ. It makes a remarkable difference in her leadership journey.


Jackie Robinson is founder of SheBoss Unlimited, a leadership and professional development company for career-driven, high-achieving and high-potential women professionals and women entrepreneurs. She also offers her consulting services to small to mid-sized companies who are interested in developing women-focused programs or seeking coaching for their female employees. Jackie is a certified professional development coach and diversity trainer with over 20 years of experience as a success strategist and is passionate about empowering women to position themselves for advancement opportunities by continuing to sharpen their professional skills, understanding how to navigate the obstacles that women face in corporate America and business, being on point with their executive presence, and developing a mindset that will prepare them to go for what they deserve in their careers or entrepreneurial pursuits.