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Post: Emotional Intelligence for Supervisors: What It Is and How to Develop It



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Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a vital component of effective supervision. In fact, EI is one of the qualities of a good supervisor. It involves the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

There are a lot of different challenges that supervisors face in their day-to-day life. One of those is relating to their team. As a supervisor, having a high EI can significantly enhance decision-making, leadership, and interpersonal skills. When a supervisor has an abundance of these skills, it can improve the workplace and the company as a whole. Having EI is a step in that direction. In this article, we will look at emotional intelligence for supervisors and how they can develop this skill.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Supervisors

In leadership, EI is an important tool for understanding and managing emotions. For many leaders, it is key to being a successful leader. Supervisors with high EI are adept at recognizing the emotional needs of their employees. This skill is particularly important in challenging situations where the emotional well-being of the team can significantly impact productivity and morale.

Emotional intelligence significantly influences workplace dynamics. It not only affects how a supervisor interacts with their team but also how they manage and resolve conflicts, handle stress, and inspire and motivate their team. A high level of EI in supervisors leads to better team collaboration, increased morale, and overall higher job satisfaction among employees.


Building Emotional Intelligence as a Supervisor

Fortunately, EI is not an innate talent, but a set of skills. This means that that can be developed and improved. Let’s look at some ways supervisors can learn to improve their EI.

 Cultivate Self-Awareness

Being self-aware as a supervisor means understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values. Beyond that, it also means understanding how each of those things impacts the others around you. When leaders are not self-aware, their actions may be causing their team unnecessary stress and frustration.

Typically, leaders of all kinds who lack self-awareness are not good at accepting feedback and applying the feedback they receive. This is why many poor leaders are also overconfident. These types of leaders are notorious for overusing their powers and overstepping their bounds. Supervisors need self-awareness for the sake of their team but also for the sake of their reputations.

Supervisors should practice introspection regularly. This can be achieved through reflection, journaling, and mindfulness exercises. They should also seek mentors who can help them see areas for improvement that the supervisor may not be able to identify on their own.

 Manage Emotions Well

Supervisors, like everyone else, have emotions. However, supervisors, who let their emotions dictate how they lead can make it hard for their colleagues and team to trust and work alongside them. A big part of developing EI as a supervisor is learning how to manage your emotions well. Emotional management is one of the marks of a great leader. These leaders understand that emotions are powerful but can change. Because of this, they should not be a driving factor in the way the leader manages a team

We previously mentioned the concept of being self-aware as a leader. Being self-aware will also help with managing emotions. Understanding your emotional triggers and how you react to different situations is crucial. 

Here are some ways to begin to better manage your emotions as a supervisor:

  • Take a step back-Give yourself a “time out” to process the events or events that may be causing strong emotions
  • Be proactive-Instead of waiting for negative emotions to appear, be proactive and do things that keep those emotions at bay.
  • Don’t be quick to judge-Take time to evaluate what is causing the negative emotion to make sure that it is the true source. For example, ask yourself are you upset at the employee or is there something else driving the emotion?
  • Keep a journal-Track when you’re the most stressed, angry, or upset. By knowing if there is a pattern, you can better prepare to handle negative emotions because there may be a common cause of them.
  • Talk to someone-If you have a trusted friend, therapist, or mentor to whom you can express your feelings, you may be able to express your feelings in a safe environment and in a healthy way.

Develop Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As a supervisor, this ability can do wonders for a team’s effectiveness. With empathy, a supervisor can build strong relationships with their team members by showing genuine interest and concern for their well-being. This can create a positive work environment where team members feel valued and supported. 

Empathy is an essential leadership skill to have. Today’s workplace is driven by technology. This can increase the lack of empathy within a team. By showing empathy towards your fellow leaders and rising leadership, you open yourself up to meaningful and lifelong connections with individuals who share similar interests. True empathy is an amazing quality for a supervisor to have. Leaders who can see from another’s perspective can help strengthen a team. 

Enhance Your Communication Skills

Every good supervisor is aware of how important it is to communicate effectively and efficiently. Communication coming from a leader should always be direct and concise. These are important to accomplish the goals of the business. Also, keeping communication clear and to the point reflects a serious nature.

Effective communication is a vital component of EI. This includes not only how you convey messages but also how you interpret the messages of others. Supervisors should work on clear, concise, and respectful communication.

This also involves being able to communicate emotionally charged messages without creating conflict or misunderstanding. Effective communication can prevent many workplace issues and help in building a cohesive team.

Learn to Manage Stress

When supervisors are stressed, their team can feel it. Team members can often sense their tone and interactions are different. Also, a supervisor who is under a lot of stress can see their performance at work beginning to slip. Being stressed at work can also make supervisors less empathetic to their team.

The ability to manage stress effectively is a significant part of emotional intelligence. Developing strategies to manage personal stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and time management, can help maintain your emotional balance. Additionally, being able to identify stress in team members and helping them cope is equally important.

 Practice Conflict Resolution

Sometimes cooler heads don’t prevail. And, when it comes to team conflicts, sometimes people don’t work things out by themselves. One important and often overlooked responsibility of a supervisor is to resolve team conflicts. This includes being a mediator when employees are not getting along. It also means bridging the gap between management policies and processes and employees’ needs and objectives.

Supervisors may find themselves determining the best way to help team members resolve team conflicts, or even reminding team members of the appropriate ways to respect others in the workplace. 

Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, and how a supervisor handles conflict speaks volumes about their EI. Developing conflict resolution skills involves understanding the root cause of the conflict, maintaining neutrality, and finding a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved. It’s about creating an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged and where conflicts are seen as opportunities for growth and improvement.



Developing emotional intelligence is a continuous journey, especially in a supervisory role. However, it is necessary for supervisors who want to excel in their profession. Learning how to develop EI not only benefits their personal growth but also has a profound impact on their teams and the overall organization. Implementing these tips will lead to more effective leadership, better problem- solving, stronger teams, and a more harmonious workplace.


Also read:

8 Time Management Techniques for Supervisors

8 Things Supervisors Can Do to Improve Themselves

7 Types of Supervisors and How They Lead

Thomas Martin

Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He has over 6 years of experience with writing on business, entrepreneurship, and other topics. He mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and eCommerce startups.

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