Photo credit: Nuthawut Somsuk

Why you should be looking to hire people with emotional intelligence

Article originally published in the American City Business Journals on December 6, 2021.

In a July interview titled “Podcast with the greats,” CEO of JP Morgan Jamie Dimon revealed what he looks for in a leader. He asks himself whether he would want to work for that individual or if he would want one of his children to do so.

Dimon looks for people with EQ – emotional intelligence. It’s not the smartest or the most hard-working person that is successful over the long term, it is those who are able to inspire others to achieve beyond what is expected of them.

In a June 2018 article headlined, “Why Emotional Intelligence Is a Key Leadership Trait,” I identified seven traits of effective leaders, based on my personal experience as a CEO and as a board member observing other CEOs. Of the seven, these are the five most important:

Recognize how others perceive you

All individuals should be aware of how their words, body language, verbal tone and actions are read by others. If the way they are being read is not desired or effective, they should change. One can tell how they are being perceived by other people’s subtle or not-so-subtle reactions.

Don’t communicate with others in a way that puts them on the defensive

Communicate in a way that makes people feel respected and valued. Don’t criticize others in public. If you need to give them negative feedback, do it in private. Don’t waste your personal capital correcting individuals on minor irrelevant misstatements of fact. Do it in a way in which the individual maintains their dignity and you are not showing off how smart you are.

Photo credit: Nuthawut Somsuk

When a direct report shares an idea or proposes a new initiative, listen

Don’t accept or reject an idea out of hand before vetting it. Show respect by discussing the idea with the direct report, asking them questions about how it might be implemented, its impact and if there could be any unintended consequences.

It’s better to have them reach their own conclusion through dialogue rather than you prematurely telling them what you think. After a dialogue, you both might have new positions or discover an alternative that is more effective than the original idea.

Take the blame if it’s your fault. Give credit where credit is due 

Everyone makes mistakes. Own up to yours. You will be a much more effective and respected leader if you do. Publicly acknowledge the successes of others. Never throw people under the bus. It destroys trust and any respect people within your organization might have for you.   

Don’t self-aggrandize

Don’t be an imperial leader. Avoid telling everyone how great you are, compared to your predecessors. Don’t blame them for their decisions that you disagree with for the purpose of boosting your own perceived standing. Narcissistic, insecure people do this. It does nothing to win the hearts and minds or earn the respect of your organization and the other people you deal with. It makes you look bad.

IQ gets you the job. EQ gets you promoted. Lead like you would like to be led and treat people like you would like to be treated. Be the type of leader you would want to work for.


Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at

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