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Pastor Chris Hodges, Church of the Highlands Founder, Talks About the Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Business and Spiritual Leadership

So many leaders are focused on the importance of being smarter than everyone else. Yet, as Pastor Chris Hodges, founder of Church of the Highlands, explains, it’s not competence or IQ that sets aside the great leaders from the good ones but rather their relational skills or their EQ.

Emotional intelligence — the ability to know how you make other people feel — is one of the key differentiating factors between successful leaders.

“I think sometimes the phrase, ‘this is the most important thing ever,’ gets overused, but this may be the most important thing ever,” says Hodges. “If you learn this as a leader and if you taught this to your team and if you lived it out, I promise you everything in your leadership will change for the good.”

Pastor Chris was moved by a book written by Daniel Goleman called “Emotional Intelligence,” in which the author points out the five components of emotional intelligence. Below, he explains those components, and gives his own takeaways and applications for each.

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is understanding how you make other people feel, and understanding what you’re actually good at and what you’re not good at.

“You think you know your personality, but do you really understand your moods, your emotions, your drives?” Hodges asks. “Do you know, when you walk away, how you made people feel?”

The more you are able to understand who you are in Christ and who you are as a leader, the better off you will be.

2. Self-Regulation

Everyone has moods and impulses. Being able to self-regulate means you can control or redirect your impulses or moods.

Pastor Hodges says all leaders need to be creating environments where their people don’t need to wonder what mood they’ll be getting today and how they should navigate that. He suggests practical ways to self-regulate, including fasting, giving permission to certain people to tell you when you need to regulate and starting your mornings well.

3. Understanding Your Motivation

All leaders need to know what their motivation is, but they also need to identify whether they’re actually motivated. Leaders need to find a passion to work for reasons that go well beyond just money and status, or fame and fortune.

In this sense, Pastor Chris says it’s important to ensure your motives remain pure. You can do this by sharing “off the stage,” to people you can trust outside of work or ministry, for instance.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. While you don’t have to agree with someone else’s story, it is important to understand where they’re coming from.

As most successful leaders today will know, people want to feel as if they’re seen and accepted, while being challenged in truth. Understanding other people’s stories allows leaders to see their actions from a completely different perspective.

5. Social Skill

Pastor Chris Hodges says leaders need to have the social skill so they can get people to move in the direction they desire. This doesn’t mean moving them toward the desired outcome that they want, but rather the outcome that God wants for their lives and is good for them.

This can be described as “friendliness with a purpose,” or managing relationships and motivating people in a positive way. Ultimately, this is a culmination of the first four components. Once you have accomplished the first four, the fifth component comes naturally.

About Pastor Chris Hodges

Chris Hodges, best known as the founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands, a life-giving church with multiple campuses across Alabama and Georgia. He also is passionate about launching and equipping other local churches through his co-founding of the Association of Related Churches (ARC) and founding of GrowLeader, a coaching network that trains and equips pastors and churches globally. He is also Chancellor Highlands College, a ministry training school committed to launching students into full-time ministry careers. Chris is a devoted family man, happily married to Tammy and proud father of five children in Birmingham, Alabama.