Leading with emotional intelligence


Emotional Capital

Over the past three years, whilst evaluation board psychological safety and organisational resilience, People Plus Science have been measuring the emotional capital across organisations. What we identified was that the emotions we bring to meetings and other team decision-making areas have a large impact on the effectiveness of those decisions. 

Whilst Susan David tells us there are no such things as “bad” or “good emotions” there is a clear difference in the emotional capital that emotions such as frustration, anger and determination brings compared to fulfilled, satisfied and purposeful. When we correlate the levels of trust, psychological safety and leadership influence scores -it is often the “good emotions” which correlate to higher effectiveness, higher psychological safety and better leadership scores.

Interestingly, few and far board evaluations look at the emotional capital, the psychological safety or deeper insights into trust factors – however this is fast changing as more and more issues come back to leadership and boardroom emotional and social intelligence.

In the “The Science of Me” series we talk about how “Emotional Capital” refers to the emotional resources that people have, such as self-esteem, self-regulation, emotional energy, attachment, resilience, agreeableness, and optimism.

These resources help people to use emotions effectively for various purposes, such as building relationships, solving problems, and achieving goals. 

In the Science of We” series we apply an organisational view of “Emotional Capital”. In an organisational sense, we refer to the collective emotional assets of the employees and customers which can influence the performance and reputation of the business (also referenced in the People Plus Science Growth Co-efficient.

Emotional capital is an important factor for personal and professional growth, as it can enhance motivation, creativity, productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction.


“The best leaders understand where their emotions come from and have mastered emotional intelligence from understanding self to their impact on others. It’s a skill that cannot be understated”.   Carolyn Grant.

“Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take values-connected steps.

We own our emotions, they don’t own us.”— Susan David

Emotional Agility

Susan David, author of Emotional Agility says that simply put “emotional agility is about loosening up, calming down, and living with more intention. It’s about choosing how you’ll respond to your emotional warning system.”

David advises that a leader with emotional agility is one that is not about ignoring emotions nor categorising someone else’s into good or bad categories. That in fact some emotions bring extra due diligence (such as frustration or persistence). Whilst some positively described emotions such as happiness could result in a lack of curiosity and an inability to look for alterative ways to do things. 

In her book, Susan says that there are  three broad areas of opportunity if people wish to make changes. 

  • You can tweak your beliefs or your mindset;
  • you can tweak your motivations;
  • you can tweak your habits.

When we learn how to make small changes in each of these areas, we set ourselves up to make profound, lasting change that has great impact over our personal and work life.

To hear more you can view Susan’s Ted Talk on the Power of Emotional Courage here: Susan David: The gift and power of emotional courage | TED Talk

Susan David

Creating change


To change your mindset, you can:

  • Start with an incredibly small habit that is easy to do without motivation
  • Increase your habit in very small ways and gradually improve.
  • Break your habits into chunks and split them into manageable segments.
  • Embrace change and value learning and growth more than others’ opinions.

To tweak your motivations, you can:

  • Find out what drives you today and align it with your goals.
  • Change your approach and don’t give up when you face obstacles.
  • Recognise your progress and celebrate your small wins.
  • Reward yourself with something meaningful and enjoyable.

To tweak your habits, you can:

  • Move your device away from your bed and avoid staring at bright light before sleep.
  • Build awareness of your current habits and identify one that you want to change.
  • Attach a new habit to something you already do regularly.
  • Refine your habits to fit your individual needs and preferences.

The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Emotionally agile leaders are very self aware and often able to manage the emotional impact of their teams without allowing emotional contagion to impact the whole team (see more on this in our article on bystanders).

Leaders with emotional intelligence know to: 

1. Acknowledge team members and their feelings

2. Reassure them that their feelings are valid

3. Make sure that team members feel valued at all times 

Actions to build “Emotional Capital” include

    • Developing a positive and realistic self-image
    • Practicing emotional awareness and expression
    • Seeking feedback and learning from mistakes
    • Cultivating empathy and compassion for others
    • Establishing trust and rapport with diverse groups
    • Fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation
    • Recognizing and rewarding achievements and contributions
    • Creating a shared vision and mission

“Neuroscience and human behaviour, lays the foundation for the approach and tools we bring to every engagement, and it provides a means for consistently making smarter people investments, measuring critical outcomes, and driving continuous, evidence-based improvements.”  Carolyn Grant

Interested in Learning More?

Book a briefing on psychological safety today. Mitigate your greatest risk and drive high performing, thriving teams.