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Emotional Intelligence for Optimal Leadership

October 5, 2023 @ 5:30 pm 9:00 pm

Emotional Intelligence for Optimal Leadership

October 5, 2023, at 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Hilton Hotel


Members Complimentary
Non-Members 850 ETB

Emotional Intelligence for Optimal Leadership

“The mark of a great leader is the ability to inspire & empower others by acknowledging and managing their emotions with care and understanding.” – Simon Sinek

In the month of October, AWiB brings you “Emotional Intelligence for Optimal Leadership”. This embodies our 2023 theme of “Honing our Leadership Skills”. At AWiB, we understand the crucial connection between leadership and emotional intelligence. During our October event, we aim to understand what true leadership is, unpack emotional intelligence, and recognize the relationship between the two.

Commonly abbreviated as EQ (emotional quotient) or EI (emotional intelligence), the concept of emotional intelligence traces its origins to the early 20th century, but it gained significant popularity in the 1990s. The term “emotional intelligence” was coined by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990, who defined it as the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions in oneself and others.

However, it was the work of Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, that pushed EQ into the public. In his 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” he stated that EQ is a critical factor for success in various domains, including personal relationships, work, and leadership. Since then, EQ has become a widely studied and valued trait, influencing areas such as education, psychology, and organizational development, and its importance in effective leadership and personal well-being continues to be emphasized.

EQ and IQ are sometimes misinterpreted as being similar and therefore have the same level pf measurement, which isn’t the case. IQ measures cognitive abilities, such as logical reasoning, problem-solving, and analytical skills. On the other hand, EQ evaluates interpersonal skills, empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. They are both needed to understand and navigate the complexities of human intelligence, behavior, and interactions.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in effective leadership as it enables leaders to navigate the complex landscape of human emotions, build strong relationships, and inspire their teams to achieve shared goals. Such leaders excel in communication and conflict resolution, leveraging their emotional intelligence to facilitate open dialogue, resolve conflicts amicably, and motivate their teams to perform at their best.

Does EQ Include Political Savviness?

Political savviness refers to the ability to understand and navigate the intricacies of politics, including power dynamics and decision-making processes, to achieve desired outcomes. While emotional intelligence and political savvy are distinct qualities, there can be some overlap between the two. EQ can contribute to political savviness but that doesn’t mean possessing it guarantees political savviness. Political savviness encompasses a broader set of skills and knowledge related to organizational politics. Leaders need to develop both to succeed.

Throughout history, several famous leaders have demonstrated strong EQ. Some of them are:

  1. Nelson Mandela: The former South African President and anti-apartheid activist showcased exceptional EQ by exhibiting empathy, forgiveness, and reconciliation, leading the country through a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt: The First Lady of the United States was an influential advocate for human rights, social justice, and women’s empowerment. She showed EQ by empathizing with the struggles of marginalized communities, using her platform to bring attention to their needs, and working towards societal progress.
  3. Emperor Yohannes IV: Ethiopia’s ruler from 1872 to 1889 was known for his strong leadership, as well as his ability to foster unity and reconciliation among various Ethiopian factions. Yohannes IV displayed emotional intelligence by actively working towards resolving conflicts, promoting dialogue, and bringing people together for the greater benefit of the country.
  4. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister from 1995 until his death in 2012 was known for his intellectual depth and strategic thinking. He demonstrated a keen understanding of Ethiopia’s socioeconomic challenges and implemented policies aimed at addressing them. Meles Zenawi’s leadership reflected a thoughtful and empathetic approach to governance.

In history, there have been notable leaders who lacked EQ. Some of them are:

  1. Adolf Hitler: The World War II leader of Nazi Germany demonstrated a severe lack of EQ as his actions were characterized by cruelty, aggression, and a complete disregard for the well-being and emotions of others. He lacked empathy, manipulated emotions for his own gain, and fostered a toxic and divisive atmosphere.
  2. Joseph Stalin: The leader of the Soviet Union was known for his ruthless and authoritarian rule by suppressing dissent, instilling fear, and prioritizing his own power and control over the welfare of the people. His actions caused immense suffering and displayed a disregard for the emotions and well-being of others.
  3. Mengistu Hailemariam: The head of state of Ethiopia from 1977 to 1991 implemented brutal policies that led to the deaths of thousands of Ethiopians and the suffering of many more. His authoritarian and uncompromising approach demonstrated a lack of empathy and emotional understanding toward the Ethiopian people.

Their actions led to significant negative consequences, including widespread suffering, violence, and instability. Hence, highlight the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership and the potential dangers of its absence.

Talking Points:
  1. How does EQ impact leadership?
  2. Does our nation have Emotionally Intelligent leaders? If so who?
  3. In what ways can cultivating Ethiopian leaders’ EQ help address societal challenges, inclusive environment and sustainable development?
  4. How can emotionally intelligent leaders contribute to nurturing an environment of mutual respect, understanding, and collective progress of Ethiopia’s diverse cultural heritage?
  5. How can developing EQ lead to the growth and prosperity of our nation?


Mesfin Asfaw is the managing partner at Paradigm Consultancy. His expertise shines as a seasoned trainer and certified management consultant, backed by decades of invaluable experience. Among his notable clientele are prominent institutions such as The World Bank, Africa Development Bank, World Vision, and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, highlighting his distinguished contributions to the field.

Mesfin’s talents extend beyond consultancy; he is a compelling and impactful public speaker, underscored by his achievement as the 2014 ‘So You Think You Can Speak’ (SYTYCS 2014) Speakers of the Year awardee. His educational background is equally impressive, boasting a B.Sc. in Architecture from MANIT, India, and an MBA in Human Resource Management from IGNOU, India, further enriching his breadth of knowledge and skills.

Steadman Harrison, MA/MTS, is a visionary leader at the helm of Lead Beyond Inc, a reputable organization based in the US. Steadman’s profound mission centers around democratizing leadership development, ensuring it’s within reach, budget-friendly, and actionable for leaders across the globe. At the core of his responsibilities lies the strategic growth and forward-looking direction of an innovative incubator situated in both Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nashville, Tennessee. 

This dynamic venture extends its influence across 50+ countries, boasting additional established hubs in Nigeria, India, and Thailand. Steadman’s expertise also extends to the international stage, where he operates as a distinguished consultant in leadership training and organizational development.

Drawing from a three-decade-long career dedicated to advancing leadership paradigms for the betterment of societies worldwide, Steadman stands as a Senior Leadership Solutions Associate at the esteemed Center for Creative Leadership. His work embodies a passion for nurturing leadership, evident in his role as the Senior Capacity Development Advisor for the European Centre for Electoral Support, an EU-backed initiative located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Here, he expertly applies meticulously researched methodologies for cultivating leaders within the realm of governance and democracy.

His extensive portfolio spans 70+ countries, impacting the lives of over a million individuals throughout the past decade. Steadman Harrison stands as a beacon of transformation, with roles as a trainer, facilitator, consultant, teacher, and futurist, leaving an indelible mark on global leadership development.


Hinjat Shamil, AWiB’s President-Elect, is currently the Senior Reform Advisor at the Ministry of Finance, where she plays a key role in spearheading several macro-fiscal reforms related to state-owned enterprises, pension funds, financial sectors, and debt management. She also oversees and supports the preparation and implementation of the government’s consecutive Home-Grown Economic Reform packages.

Hinjat has previously worked with the United Nations and the GOE in the areas of development finance, industrialization, and sustainable development goals. Hinjat holds a Master of Public Policy in International Development from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Addis Ababa University, which has equipped her with a strong foundation in economics and policy analysis. She also has international work experience in the US, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.


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