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Use These 7 Emotional Intelligence Tips to Be a Better Leader Technicians are smart about machines. Leaders are smart about people.

By John Boitnott Edited by Dan Bova

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There are many types of intelligence and emotional intelligence, even though it's much discussed these days, is often not displayed much in the workplace. Being able to pinpoint and manage emotions (both yours and others') is what helps you better manage relationships. It can be a rigorous process to cultivate being more open to watching your own emotions, but this work will lead to a happier and more successful life.

In order to be emotionally intelligent you need to be self-aware. For example, some leaders fake their self-confidence and may not even realize it. There's a big difference between true self-confidence and faking it. People you work with can subconsciously feel the difference. You work more competently when you have realistic self-confidence. This is because you understand your feelings and you can tell when a strong emotion is about to occur, so you adjust. Understanding your feelings sounds pretty basic but it's actually something that takes people a long time to learn.

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Someone who is emotionally intelligent is resilient, able to remain calm under pressure. When you do get upset, you get over it quickly and don't dwell on it. You're the go-to person in a crisis, which is an obvious leadership trait. You're also emotionally balanced, you keep distress in check and you don't let it spill over to others around you. Leaders like this tend to keep an eye on longer-term goals no matter what bumps may occur along the way.

Emotional intelligence also requires empathy, both emotional and cognitive. You truly understand the feelings and perspectives of others. This lets you see things from many angles and people pick up on this. Seeing how someone feels lets you communicate better. People like this also tend to be good listeners, pay attention better and don't just wait for their turn to speak.

Emotional intelligence is both an innate trait and a learned skill. Pick the areas below where you're the weakest and strive to improve on a daily basis. If you're prone to being in your own bubble and like working alone, you may need to push yourself to achieve more emotional intelligence. Try these seven tips to get started:

1. Surround yourself with higher emotional "IQs" than you.

They say birds of a feather really do flock together. To some extent, you are the average of the people you have around you the most. Make an effort to be with people you admire and who have qualities, including emotional intelligence, you want to emulate.

Related: How Emotional Intelligence Can Improve Your Productivity

2. Read more.

It really is that simple (it can also include audiobooks). Reading books designed to increase your emotional intelligence will do just that. Need help? Check out Entrepreneur's audiobook recommendations.

Related: 12 Self-Awareness Exercises That Fuel Success

3. Practice active listening.

Humans don't naturally actively listen, instead we wait our turn to talk. Consciously listening takes work. You have to stop yourself while someone is talking and notice if you're actually formulating your response instead of listening. This takes time to learn. The rewards are nice though. Active listening increases compassion and empathy -- pillars of emotional intelligence.

Related: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence at Work

4. Learn from your mistakes.

We hear so often that we should learn from our mistakes that we take this for granted or forget to do it. One way to build this skill is to write down past mistakes or failures, then pinpoint what went wrong and what you can learn. If you don't take the time to observe these things, you'll just keep repeating them.

Related: 25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

5. Choose your leisure activities wisely.

Find activities that you truly enjoy which also happen to increase emotional intelligence. It might be a chess club, meditation group, yoga or a book club. Lean away from watching too much TV. Down time doesn't need to be "brain turned off time."

Related: 11 Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence

6. Embrace lifelong learning.

We should never stop learning, but education doesn't have to take place in a traditional school classroom. How are you actively learning something new in the moment? What do you want to learn? Rockclimbing? Singing? Aikido? The options are endless.

Related: 10 Podcasts That Can Change How You Think About Life

7. See a therapist.

Mental and emotional health are intimately connected to your physical health. It's widely accepted that people feel better when they have an emotional outlet in the form of another person. Professional therapists are tremendously valuable because they offer a non-judgemental space for people to speak about what's happening their lives. If for some reason you can't bring yourself to see a therapist, at least have someone in your life you can speak to regularly about your feelings.

Emotional intelligence takes work and practice just like any other form of intelligence. Good news -- you're in total control of working those emotional intelligence muscles. Watch who you interract with, learn new things and give yourself emotional outlets. These will all help grow this highly valuable personal capability.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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