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How to Be a High EQ Leader: Nurture Relationships

How to Be a High EQ Leader: Nurture Relationships

For this blog series, I asked some of my favorite leadership experts: “What do high EQ leaders do that sets them apart?” Their responses were both informative and inspiring. Some expressed similar ideas, but each person’s approach added depth to this important question. This is the fifth in the series, and I hope you read and enjoy all of them...

Since its publication in 1936, one self-help book has sold over 15 million copies world-wide. That book, How to Win Friends and Influence People,  and the associated Dale Carnegie courses have attracted a tremendous following  including billionaire Warren Buffet, listed as the wealthiest person in the world.

Buffet does not hang his college diplomas on his walls. Instead, after all these years, the certificate from the Dale Carnegie course he took when he was 20 years old is prominently displayed in his office. In fact, in a video interview Buffet credited a Dale Carnegie course for changing his life.

Certainly, Buffet can look to many traits that have made him so successful: self discipline, single-minded pursuit of his goals, uncommon wisdom, commitment to learning, integrity and others. However, his focus on relationships and working with people are an integral part of his success. He said:

“When you get to my age, you'll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to love you actually love you.”  

Leaders can only make a difference when others are willing to follow.

“According to research at the Saratoga Institute, as many as eighty percent of employees who voluntarily leave a position do so because of management issues or toxic cultures. The study also reported that as much as fifty percent of employee satisfaction was tied to the employee’s relationship with the supervisor (Nadler, 2007).

Other research associated with employee emotions suggests that dissatisfied employees are more likely to be looking for another position. Of workers who are intensely negative about work, twenty-eight percent are looking for other positions. Only six percent of workers who feel strongly positive about work are considering new positions (Towers Perrin & Gang and Gang, 2002).” [From Connect: Affective Leadership for Effective Results]

Because leadership is all about the ability to influence others, I was reminded of Warren Buffet and this book as I reviewed comments from noted leadership experts Shawn Upchurch, Dan Rockwell and LaRae Quy for this series on High EQ Leaders. When asked what emotionally intelligent leaders do that sets them apart, each of them stressed the importance of building and nurturing relationships.

Dan Rockwell responded:
Dan Rockwell

Emotionally intelligent leaders set others at ease while calling for excellence at the same time. Their sense of comfort with themselves and acceptance of others allow authentic connection rather than posturing, fear, and manipulation. Their ability to help others feel understood opens the door for influence that transcends traditional top down leadership models. Emotionally Intelligent leaders help others find personal passion and authentic contribution.

LaRae Quy wrote:
LaRae Quy

"What's in it for those I wish to lead?" is the most compelling question a great leader can ask herself.  Emotional intelligence is a leader's ability to notice, understand, and interpret the emotions of themselves as well as others. It is listening to that inner voice called “gut reaction” or “instinct” and not letting it get drowned out by logic or too much thinking.

Most leaders lean on logic and business savvy when making decisions. Emotionally intelligent leaders, however, add a secret sauce that is unique and yet essential—emotions. This is what gives the emotionally intelligent leader an advantage—they know what to do with the information when they see it by acting in a way that brings out desirable behavior.


Shawn Upchurch summed it up:

Emotionally intelligent leaders deliberately nurture relationships so that others trust, respond to and want to work with them. Of course, leaders with well-developed EI “do” many things, but I prefer to keep the main thing … the main thing.”
So, what do emotionally intelligent leaders do that other leaders do not?

  • They encourage others to talk about themselves and their interests.
  • They make other people feel important.
  • They remember names and personal circumstances.
  • They ask questions and allow others to find their own solutions.
  • They praise good work and show genuine appreciation.
  • They show respect and allow others to save face even when they make mistakes.
  • They admit errors and discuss their own mistakes.
  • They appeal to purpose and mission…noble motives.
  • They are sympathetic to the other person’s point of view.
  • They hold others accountable without complaining, criticizing or arguing.

High EQ leaders nurture genuine relationships, not for their own benefit, but for the sake of connection and their higher purpose.  

What are your thoughts on high-EQ Leaders? What do they do that sets them apart? How do they nurture relationship? 

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If you would like to learn more about emotional intelligence or you want to find resources for your practice, check out our Emotional Intelligence Portal. It includes an unparalleled collection of articles and links to books, surveys, organizations, videos, audio recordings, images and useful products associated with this important leadership topic. Some of them hold creative commons licensing for your personal and professional use.


  • Boyer, L. (2011) Connect: Affective Leadership for Effective Results. Sarasota, Florida: Leadership Options, LLC.
  • Dale Carnagie Training (2012) Warren Buffet on Dale Carnagie. Retreived September 15, 2014.
  • Nadler, R. (2007). The leaders’ playbook: How to apply emotional intelligence—keys to great leadership. Santa Barbara, CA: True North Leadership, Inc.
  • Towers Perrin & Gang and Gang. (2002). Working today: Exploring employees’ emotional connection to their jobs. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from Global HR News: