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Thursday, 10 August 2017 12:48

Men are less emotional than women, in business… Really?

Why being emotionally capable is so important as a leader

I recently facilitated a Leadership Development Programme for business owners and was surprised to hear one of the delegates (a woman, herself) comment on how glad she was that most people in her team are men, as men are less emotional than women when it comes to business. A stereotypical comment, this is a view that women have been striving to overthrow for decades, in their efforts to be treated as equals in the workplace.

The comment came as part of a discussion on the importance of being an emotionally capable leader – the essence being that, instead of distancing themselves from emotions, leaders should tune in to their own feelings and those of their teams, and choose an appropriate response.

Leaders (whether men or women), should recognise that there is no getting away from it – the most ancient part of our brain, the amygdala, generates an emotional response to any situation, and we can’t avoid it. What we can do, is choose how we respond to or use the emotion.

Evidence that getting in tune with your emotions makes you a better leader

Beyond biology, there is also a strong business case for developing our emotional intelligence and becoming emotionally capable leaders. To quote just a couple of examples, American Express found that developing emotional competence in its staff increased sales by 11%; whilst the US Airforce found that using emotional intelligence as a selection criterion increased their ability to recruit successfully and reduced the cost of bad hires by R3 million annually.

How to become an emotionally capable leader

There are seven key characteristics you should be aware of:

  • Self-Awareness: be conscious of your thoughts and feelings, bodily responses, impulses and intuitions.
  • Resonance: develop the ability to tune in and respond appropriately to others’ emotional states and needs.
  • Wisdom: understand and respect the strengths and limits of one’s internal resources, response patterns, needs and preferences.
  • Dynamics: develop the ability to function effectively in social situations by applying knowledge of interpersonal satisfiers, behavioural norms and group dynamics.
  • Drive: have unshakeable motivation and effort directed towards creating a more desirable future, fuelled by a firm belief in your ability to shape that future.
  • Influence: develop the ability to call forth and channel individual and collective energy in pursuit of desired changes.
  • Emotional regulation: express your feelings appropriately, deal with stress, handle obstacles and setbacks and live comfortably in uncertainty so as to instil confidence and serve as a model for others.

It’s important that, as a leader, you identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. Work to improve your weaknesses in order to get the best out of your team. To help you along that journey, have a read through these very helpful books: People Skills by Robert Bolton and Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.


Article by: Julie Humphreys, Business Coach and Leadership Development Expert at GROW Business Coaching


GROW is a premier business coaching firm that works with over 70 companies a month to accelerate the growth of their businesses, people and profits. They support business owners with training and practical tools that can be quickly and effectively applied to achieve results. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.grow.za.com. You can also follow Grow on Twitter, @GrowCoachingSA.