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Setting Up Teenagers For Success With Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a critical skill in leadership, and by teaching emotional intelligence during adolescence, we can help individuals develop the skills they need to become successful leaders in the future.

Emotional intelligence

I have in my various roles (chairman of a listco, corporate director, entrepreneur, business and corporate management advisor and consultant, executive and leadership coach, corporate mentor etc.) seen first-hand the power of emotional intelligence in shaping successful and fulfilled individuals.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions, while also being able to empathise and communicate effectively with others. It is a critical component of leadership and personal development, as it allows individuals to connect with others, build relationships, and achieve their desired results.

Opportune to introduce emotional intelligence to teenagers

While emotional intelligence is increasingly recognised as a vital skill for adults and working professionals, I firmly believe there is an opportunity to introduce it at an even earlier age.

Developing future leaders should begin when they are teenagers, as this is a critical period of growth and development. Teenagers are navigating complex social and emotional challenges, and developing their emotional intelligence can help them navigate these challenges more effectively, set them up for success in the future, and positively impact their personal and professional lives.

Reason for developing emotional intelligence in teenagers

Reason #1: Enhance communication and relationships

Teenagers are at a stage where they are forming and solidifying relationships with peers, family, and authority figures. Developing emotional intelligence can help them better communicate and connect with others, leading to more positive and fulfilling relationships. Teenagers who are emotionally intelligent are better equipped to navigate conflicts and disagreements, express their needs and feelings, and build empathy towards others.

Reason #2: Develop leadership skills

Teenagers who develop emotional intelligence are better equipped to lead others. By understanding their own emotions and the emotions of those around them, they can create a more positive and productive environment for their peers. Emotional intelligence also helps teenagers develop important leadership qualities such as empathy, self-awareness, and communication skills, which are essential for success in any leadership role.

Reason #3: Reduce negative behaviours

Teenagers who lack emotional intelligence may struggle with impulsivity, aggression, or other negative behaviours. Developing emotional intelligence can help them regulate their emotions and make more thoughtful decisions. This can lead to a reduction in negative behaviours and a more positive outlook on life.

Reason #4: Preparing for success in the workplace

Emotional intelligence is increasingly recognised as a critical skill for success in the workplace. By developing emotional intelligence in their teenage years, individuals are better equipped to navigate workplace challenges such as conflict resolution, teamwork, and effective communication. Additionally, individuals with strong emotional intelligence are more likely to be successful in leadership roles, as they can connect with others and inspire their team to achieve their goals.

How to begin developing emotional intelligence in teenagers?

Tip #1: Encourage emotional expression

Teenagers may feel hesitant or unsure about expressing their emotions, particularly in front of others. Encourage them to express their emotions in a safe and supportive environment, whether it be through writing, talking, or creative expression. This can help them build emotional awareness and learn how to effectively communicate their emotions with others.

Tip #2: Practice active listening

Active listening is a critical component of emotional intelligence. Encourage teenagers to practice active listening by focusing on the speaker, maintaining eye contact, and asking clarifying questions. This can help them build empathy towards others and better understand their emotions.

Tip #3: Foster self-awareness

Self-awareness is a critical component of emotional intelligence, as it allows individuals to recognise and understand their own emotions. Encourage teenagers to reflect on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, and identify patterns or triggers that may impact their emotional state. This can help them develop a deeper understanding of themselves and build greater emotional intelligence.

Tip #4: Model emotional intelligence

As key role models, we owe it to ourselves to model emotional intelligence in our own behaviour. We need to be mindful and consciously model positive behaviours for teenagers, whether it be through active listening, empathetic communication, or effective conflict resolution. This can help them see the value of emotional intelligence.

Tip #5: Attend emotional intelligence camps

Emotional intelligence camps typically offer various activities, discussions, and exercises that help teens learn how to manage their emotions, understand the emotions of others, and communicate effectively. Through experiential learning, teenagers can develop their self-awareness, empathy, social skills, and other emotional intelligence competencies. More importantly, emotional intelligence camps can provide teenagers with a safe and supportive environment to practice and improve their emotional intelligence skills, which can have a positive impact on their relationships, academics, and overall well-being.


I believe that in order to develop future leaders, it is essential to begin developing emotional intelligence in individuals during their teenage years. Emotional intelligence is a crucial skill for effective leadership, and adolescence is a critical period for developing these skills.

Education, parenting, and extracurricular activities can all play a role in fostering emotional intelligence in teens. By investing in emotional intelligence development during this crucial time, we are equipping future leaders with the tools they need to succeed in leadership roles. Ultimately, investing in the emotional intelligence of our youth is an investment in their future, paving the way for their success and growth.


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