Back to all Blog Posts.
Blog Post

Leading with Empathy During Times of Political Tension

More than two thirds of Americans reported the 2020 presidential election to be a significant source of stress in their lives. Between heightened political division and the continuing pandemic, employees may be experiencing significant anxiety or distraction that is very likely to be impacting them professionally, as well. 

While November 3 has come and gone, political stress has continued and, for many Americans, spiked following recent events.  Your team may be drained emotionally, mentally and creatively as their focus has been pulled in many different directions.

A defining characteristic of a strong leader is not just leading through the good times, but identifying ways to inspire their teams during times of turmoil. To lead through this election season effectively, leaders must have high level of emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to not only understand but manage emotions in a productive way and is necessary to lead a team effectively through times of stress.  In a remote or blended workforce, emotions can be less apparent or more easily misconstrued, making EQ an invaluable quality.  

A leader with EQ is vital to helping employees avoid burnout and support mental health during these hard times and is essential to retaining and attracting talent. Below we dive into five important qualities of leaders with EQ and how they impact an organization. 


Leaders with a high EQ cultivate strong working relationships with their staff in order to best know how to support them. This means getting to know employees on a more personal level in order to understand who they are, what they are managing personally, and how to help them excel. 

A successful working environment requires trust.  If the environment is toxic, employees will not feel able to contribute meaningfully or take the needed risks to advance. Fostering a positive environment, especially during the pandemic when many workers are remote, relies on relationship-oriented leadership. By having regular wellness checks with staff, leaders with high EQ establish a culture of trust and allow employees to feel seen and supported. It also helps employers notice when their staff may need additional support. 


A key trait of leaders with strong EQ is their decision-making tactics. These leaders position themselves to decide, rather than react. Rather than rush into an emotionally spurred decision, they analyze the situation, ask questions and research as needed. Because emotions are inextricably linked with our cognitive system, decision making by nature is not purely rational. What sets apart a great leader is their ability to distinguish the rational and the emotional in order to make hard decisions, and in turn make better long term decisions for their team as a whole. 


Leaders with high EQ not only understand when a member of their team is struggling, but they have the social awareness to understand how an issue may impact the business, people, and systems involved. Beyond identifying where the issue lies, leaders with high EQ work with their employees empathetically to help support them and attack problems strategically.  


Leaders with EQ not only ask employees how they are doing but also make the time to listen and prioritize responses. Approaching the concerns of staff with empathy and genuine interest, rather than to “check off a box” makes a difference. Leading with EQ can mean slowing down to work with an employee to resolve an issue or being patient while helping them learn and develop to achieve a long-term career goal. 


Leaders with high EQ know when they need to reach out to others for help and do not shy away from honesty, even when it’s hard. They admit their mistakes and shortcomings and know when they need guidance from others to pull themselves back up.  

Emotions matter, both in business and in life. Now as the two are more inextricably linked than ever, integrity, compassion and creativity is required to lead effectively. To instill a sense of safety and belonging in their workforce, leaders need a high EQ and dedication to their people. This year leaders of people faced a stark new reality with minimal, if any, training and their relationships with staff have become strained as a result. In our new report, we discuss why 43% of survey respondent stated their relationship with their manager got worse since transitioning to remote work, and how to change that. You can download our Remote Manager Index here to learn more.  


If you're looking to add leaders to your team, please connect with us here.