Essential Attributes of Emotional Intelligence for Effective Decision Making

Essential Attributes of Emotional Intelligence for Effective
Decision Making

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April 2024

A single bad decision at the C-level can cost a company millions. Studies show that poor leadership choices can lead to plummeting stock prices, employee turnover, and missed market opportunities.

In today’s complex business environment, simply having a strong intellect isn’t enough. Leaders who excel at navigating uncertainty, managing pressure, and inspiring teams require a different kind of intelligence: emotional intelligence (EQ). Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals that a staggering 60% of CEOs report experiencing at least one crisis event during their tenure. This underscores the critical role EQ plays in effective leadership and sound decision making.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters for the C-Suite

TalentSmart, a research and consulting firm specializing in emotional intelligence, reports that emotional intelligence contributes to 58% of job success across all industries. Leaders with high EQ possess a specific set of emotional intelligence attributes that demonstrably equip them to make better choices for their organizations, priming them for success.

The Unique Challenges of C-Suite Decisions

C-suite leaders face a constant barrage of complex situations: mergers and acquisitions, navigating market disruptions, and managing diverse teams - all require a high degree of emotional intelligence to make sound judgments under pressure. Unlike tactical decisions, which may have immediate implications, choices made at the C-level often have far-reaching consequences that can shape the trajectory of an organization for years to come.

In such high-stakes scenarios, emotional intelligence (EQ) emerges as a crucial asset, enabling leaders to navigate ambiguity, foster collaboration, and inspire confidence in their decision-making abilities. The ability to think clearly under pressure, consider diverse perspectives, and effectively manage one's own emotions becomes paramount in driving sustainable success and achieving strategic objectives.

The Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Decision Making

Effective decision making is a complex process that requires a leader to not only analyze data and weigh options logically but also to manage their own emotions and consider the emotional impact of their choices.

Here's how emotional intelligence strengthens decision making at the C-level:

  • Clearer Thinking Under Pressure: High-pressure situations can trigger emotional responses that cloud judgment. Self-awareness and self-regulation allow leaders to stay calm, avoid impulsive choices, and think rationally when faced with difficult decisions.
  • Improved Risk Assessment: Emotions can play a valuable role in decision making by prompting us to consider potential risks. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence can recognize and interpret their emotions as signals, allowing them to identify potential downsides or unforeseen consequences.
  • Considering Diverse Perspectives: Empathy allows leaders to understand how decisions will affect others. This fosters a more inclusive decision-making culture that considers the needs and concerns of employees, customers, and stakeholders, ultimately leading to more well-rounded solutions.
  • Building Consensus and Trust: Leaders with strong social skills can effectively communicate complex decisions, navigate disagreements, and build consensus among team members. This fosters trust within the organization and increases the likelihood of successful implementation.
  • Motivation and Persistence: Leaders with high EQ bring the motivation and perseverance to navigate setbacks of complex decisions, stay focused on the long-term goal, and ultimately reach the best solution.

Key Attributes of Emotional Intelligence for Decision Making

An executive leader's emotional intelligence empowers them to make effective decisions that help drive organizational success. We list the key attributes of EQ that make leaders sound decision makers.


Self-aware leaders are like self-experts. They have a deep understanding of themselves and know what they're good at and where they might need help. They also recognize when their own personal beliefs or habits might influence their decisions.

By understanding themselves better, leaders can make better choices. They can play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses. They can also catch themselves if they start making decisions based on their own biases.

Example: A self-aware leader can identify their tendency towards optimism or pessimism and take steps to balance their perspective with data and dissenting opinions before making a final call.


Emotions are an undeniable part of the human experience, and leaders are not immune. Self-regulation isn't about suppressing emotions; it's about channeling them productively, staying focused and level-headed, even when things get tough. The ability to manage emotions and impulses is critical for C-suite decision making.

Example: Imagine a CFO facing a market downturn. Instead of making rash investment decisions fueled by panic, a leader with strong self-regulation can stay calm, gather data, and develop a measured response.


When it comes to navigating complex decisions, staying motivated is key. Leaders with high emotional intelligence (EQ) have an internal drive that keeps them focused and determined throughout the decision-making process.

Leaders with strong EQ are able to use motivation as the fuel that powers their journey. It allows them to set clear goals for themselves and their teams, providing a sense of direction and purpose. They understand the importance of perseverance and are willing to put in the effort needed to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Example: A COO leading their company’s restructuring may encounter unexpected challenges. However, their intrinsic motivation keeps them focused on finding the best solution for the long-term health of the company.


Great leaders understand that decisions have an impact beyond just the bottom line. Imagine being able to understand not just the financial implications of a decision, but also how it will affect the lives of the employees, customers, and stakeholders. This is where empathy comes into play.

Empathy allows C-suite leaders to evaluate diverse perspectives and address challenges in an empathetic and inclusive manner. According to a study by Deloitte, companies fostering strong cultures of empathy witness reduced employee turnover rates. Leaders adept at understanding employee perspectives can cultivate a workplace that is more engaging and fulfilling.

Example: For instance, a CEO considering a plant closure might use empathy to understand the impact on the local community before finalizing the decision.

Social Skills

Effective decision making in the C-suite is rarely a solo endeavor. Leaders with strong social skills can foster open communication within their teams, actively listen to diverse viewpoints, and collaborate effectively to reach a consensus. In essence, social skills help leaders build a positive and collaborative atmosphere, where everyone's ideas count towards making the right decisions for the company.

Example: Imagine a CTO faced with a critical software launch decision. Their social skills enable them to gather input from engineers, marketing, and sales to ensure a successful launch.

Tips Leaders Use to Enhance Decision Making

Building on the foundation of emotional intelligence, here are some practical tips leaders can utilize to make better decisions:

  • Gather Diverse Input: Don't rely solely on your own perspective. Actively seek out information and opinions from team members across different departments and with varied experiences.
  • Define the Problem Clearly: Before jumping to solutions, ensure a clear understanding of the issue at hand. Frame the problem statement objectively, considering all relevant factors and potential biases.
  • Consider All Options: Don't settle on the first solution that seems viable. Explore various options, brainstorm creatively, and weigh the pros and cons of each approach.
  • Embrace Data-Driven Decisions: While emotions play a role, don't let them overshadow objective data. Gather relevant metrics, conduct market research, and analyze data to support your choices.
  • Anticipate Potential Challenges: Use emotional intelligence to identify potential roadblocks and develop contingency plans to address them.
  • Communicate Effectively: Clearly communicate the chosen course of action to relevant stakeholders. Explain the rationale behind the decision and foster open communication throughout the implementation process.
  • Learn from Experience: Reflect on past decisions, both successes and failures. Identify areas for improvement and actively seek feedback from others to hone your decision-making skills over time.

By incorporating these tips alongside a strong foundation in emotional intelligence, leaders can make more informed, well-rounded decisions that benefit their organizations in the long run.

How to Assess Emotional Intelligence in Candidates

In the high-pressure environment of the C-suite, leaders face complex choices. Traditional interview formats can be limiting when evaluating a candidate's true ability to make sound decisions under pressure.

This section explores three key methods to assess EQ in candidates. By understanding a candidate's emotional intelligence, you can gain valuable insights into their ability to make sound decisions and lead your organization toward success.

Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing is a method used to assess candidates based on their past experiences and behaviors. When conducting a behavioral interview, the focus is on asking candidates to describe specific situations where they have demonstrated certain skills or qualities, such as emotional intelligence, in action.

For instance, when probing for emotional intelligence, interviewers may ask candidates to describe a situation where they used emotional intelligence to make a difficult decision. The key is to delve into the details of the candidate's thought process, how they managed their emotions, and the outcome of their decision.

Psychometric Assessments

Psychometric assessments offer a powerful tool to evaluate candidates beyond their qualifications. These standardized tests delve into personality, cognitive abilities, and emotional intelligence (EQ).

Understanding a candidate's EQ is vital. It reveals their ability to manage their own emotions, empathize with others, and navigate interpersonal relationships. Platforms like ATHENA, from Kingsley Gate, utilize sophisticated assessments to uncover these hidden strengths.

Through carefully designed questionnaires and scenarios, these assessments provide valuable insights that empower employers to make informed hiring decisions.

Reference Checks

Reference checks play a crucial role in the hiring process by providing employers with firsthand accounts of a candidate's past performance and behavior in professional settings. When it comes to assessing emotional intelligence, reference checks offer valuable insights into how candidates have navigated challenging situations and interacted with others in their previous roles.

For example, employers may inquire about instances where the candidate effectively managed conflicts or difficult situations, demonstrated empathy towards colleagues or clients, or showed resilience in the face of adversity.

Hire C-Suite Leaders with Higher Emotional Intelligence Today

In today's business landscape, emotional intelligence is no longer a "soft skill" but a critical core competency for effective C-suite leadership. Leaders with high EQ are better equipped to make sound decisions, build strong teams, and navigate the complexities of the modern business world.

Elevate your decision making and propel your organization forward by prioritizing emotional intelligence (EQ).Traditional methods often fall short in identifying these crucial skills. Kingsley Gate offers a deeper approach, utilizing in-depth assessments and behavioral interviewing techniques to identify candidates who demonstrably excel in EQ.

Partner with us to unlock the full potential of your emotionally intelligent leadership team. Contact us today and unlock the full potential of your organization.