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Leading Through Change in an Emotionally Intelligent Way

Professor Damian Hughes

22 May 2014

In this blog, Professor Damian Hughes looks at change management and emotional intelligence, in order to relate to different teams.

Whether we like it or not, we operate in a world where change can come in lots of different ways.

Budgets, strategy, economy, customers, products, stakeholder… the list goes on. What is key to our people’s performance is how they deal with this change.

The modern leader needs to engage in lots of different ways. The key to this is to firstly engage in an emotionally intelligent way.

Consider how these four pillars of emotional intelligence relate to your own team:

To Belong
A number of things can be identified in today’s society which illustrate the basic human need to belong – religion, sport, patriotism – the worst punishment in the prison system is solitary confinement. As leaders, it’s all about creating a team and company whose identity you can be a part of.

How does this translate into our world of work? What can we do for each other on a daily basis to give ourselves a sense of belonging?

To Feel Secure
What do we mean by feeling secure in the context of our working lives? Not at risk of losing our jobs, proper health and safety procedures, supported by our colleagues, protected from harm?

Safety can also refer to more subtle things, such as feeling that it’s ok to make mistakes, feeling that it’s ok to challenge the status quo, feeling like we are making a contribution etc. All of which are fundamental to leading in an emotionally intelligent way.

To Feel Valued
The emotional tank is like the petrol tank of a car – you can’t just keep driving without filling it up. Our people are the same, they need to feel valued. You need to put in lots of deposits before you make a withdrawal.

Give lots of praise and positive feedback so when you do need to challenge you don’t demotivate.

To Feel in Control
The fourth foundation stone is to feel that we are in control. Too often we get bogged down with things that are outside of our influence, which leads not only to poor performance and demotivation, but can also lead to stress and anxiety.

Pressurised situations can make individuals think in an irrational way. The ability to keep things in perspective and focus in a logical way is often essential. In situations like this, the environment controls the individual, rather than the individual impacting on the environment.

In sport, the saying goes; ‘control the controllables’.

Are your leaders creating an environment where people belong, employees feel secure, there is a sense of value and people feel in control?


For more information on inspiring leaders through change, contact us at

Professor Damian Hughes


Professor Damian Hughes is a bestselling author who combines his practical
and academic background within sport, organisational development and change psychology, to help organisations and teams to create a high performing culture.

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