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Do you work with a person who is an intellectual giant and an emotional runt all rolled into one? 20 years in the business world have taught me many lessons… one is IQ doesn’t guarantee emotional IQ (EIQ). Intellectual brilliance doesn’t ensure emotional smarts.

Leading an organization usually requires a reasonably high IQ. Staying healthy while leading an organization always requires a reasonably high EIQ. For example, research reveals pastors suffer a rate of depression 4x higher than the general population.  One major contributor is underdeveloped EIQ.

EIQ is a more reliable predictor of leadership longevity than IQ. The question is… how do we develop EIQ? Is it for only a few? Or is it accessible to every leader? Let me share four key EIQ behaviors, and you can draw your own conclusions.


No one talks to you about yourself more than you do. Business leader, education leader, ministry leader… let me ask you some key questions: Do you talk to yourself in a self-critical way? If yes—do you understand the damage you inflict when you talk to yourself negatively? Proverbs 18:21 teaches us: “The tongue has the power of life and death…”

What we say to ourselves about ourselves carries great power. Power to create or destroy, heal or wound. People with high EIQ talk to themselves kindly.


In Acts 20 the apostle Paul was saying adios to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. During his emotional farewell he commanded them: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”

The phrase “keep watch” comes from the Greek word “prosecete” which means “attend to; pay attention to; devote thought and effort to.” Paul’s final goodbye to this group of leaders included a command to attend to, pay attention to, and devote thought/effort to both themselves and the people under their care. EIQ is enhanced when we understand it’s possible to care about others and ourselves at the same time.


Proverbs 19:8 tells us: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul.” For some leaders, the idea of paying attention to their soul – the mental, emotional, and “will” part of their being – is a new thought. When it comes to EIQ… a lack of self-awareness can hurt you.

Leaders (everybody for that matter) have 3 tanks—spiritual, physical, and emotional. Behaviors in each tank cross over to a degree and influence the other tanks… but each tank largely represents a separate set of behaviors. High EIQ leaders become increasingly self-aware of their limitations, strengths, weaknesses, tendencies… and take time to replenish each tank.

If that sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. Who said being a leader was easy? High EIQ requires effort. Regardless of how much time/energy it takes, a strong EIQ builds a solid foundation for long-term emotional health, as well as sustainable, influential leadership.


We are commanded in the Bible to “Love others as (in the same manner as) ourselves.” If I crucify myself with my words, ignore my responsibility for self-care, and have zero self-awareness… compassion for those I lead becomes problematic. Leading a group of people can squeeze the last ounce of compassion out of you—especially if you don’t regularly refill your emotional tank.

We can be intelligent about leadership… and stupid about emotional fitness. God wants us to be smart about both so we can lead longer, better, enjoy it more… and lead with compassion toward those He’s put under our charge.

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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