The Secret to Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Blog post by American Association for Physician Leadership. Introduction by Colin Hung.

This week on #HCLDR we are very excited and honored to collaborate with the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL). Since 1975, the AAPL (formerly the ACPE – American College of Physician Executives) has been helping physicians develop the necessary leadership skills to navigate in today’s complex healthcare environment.

Teaming up with AAPL is 100% aligned with the core principle of #HCLDR – sharing knowledge with healthcare leaders (in title and in spirit) so that we can continue to push to improve healthcare. We are very excited for our first tweetchat with AAPL. They have arranged to have two amazing physician leaders to be guests on August 22nd.

We hope you will join us on August 22nd at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will be discussing how to become an emotionally intelligent healthcare leader with Helane Fronek MD @helanefronekmd and Deborah Munhoz MS @LadyDocCoach



This week, we are excited to welcome Deborah Munhoz, MS, PCC and Helane Fronek MD, FACP, ACC, Certified Physician Development Coaches™ who work with women physicians.  Deborah helps her clients explore how to fulfill their leadership potential without burning out. Visit for more info and resources on how to grow as a leader while increasing resilience.  Helane’s work focuses mostly on helping her clients reconnect with themselves, as she finds that the process of becoming and then working as a physician often leads women to lose their sense of who they are and what’s important to them; the result is often chronic dissatisfaction and burnout.  On her site,, you’ll find tools to help you rediscover a joyful connection with yourself again.  Both coaches know that women in medicine often find it difficult to be emotionally authentic, leading them to second guess themselves and fueling a reluctance to take on leadership roles.  In this post, they discuss the power of being aware of and using your emotions skillfully (Emotional Intelligence, or EQ), in order to become a more effective leader.

Most of us were taught not to express any emotion, to be strong and tough and purely intellectual.  Unfortunately, that deprives us of an important source of information – our emotions – and leaves us vulnerable when those emotions come out at inopportune times.

Emotions let us know what we care about.  If something makes us angry or afraid, it’s usually because an issue or cause we hold dear isn’t being honored or is in danger.  And if we feel a surge of joy or happiness, we can be certain that something we value is present in the exchange or experience.  What’s most important for each of us is to develop self-awareness of our emotional state, so we can be in control of how our emotions are expressed.

If we’re unaware of our emotions, they’re likely to leak or explode out in other ways than our words.  A furrowed brow, roll of our eyes, sarcasm or an angry tone of voice can betray our true feelings, even when our words contradict them.  This makes us seem insincere and untrustworthy.  This disconnect between our feelings and our actions makes us feel inauthentic, eroding our confidence. Most of us have experienced having to “clean up the mess” after we impulsively said something in a fit of anger or when we felt hurt, even as we tried to “control” our outward expression.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ), a term coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer and popularized by Daniel Goleman, is defined by the Institute for Health and Human Potential as “the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.”  The first step and foundation of EQ is self awareness – without an awareness of the emotion we’re feeling, we run the risk that it will influence our decisions without the input of our analytical and thinking mind.

The minefield of emotions can be even more hazardous for women, and this can impair our willingness and ability to rise to senior leadership positions.  Currently, 34% of US physicians are women, yet only 13% of deans and department chairs are women. Since 50% of medical students are women, it is imperative that women become more skillful in navigating their and others’ emotions as we assume greater leadership roles.  Women will have more confidence to be bold and courageous in their approach to leadership when they value, rather than fear, their emotions.  If harnessed strategically and with self-awareness, our emotions can be a valuable source of information, connection and leadership strength.

Please join the #hcldr community of friends, peers, and collaborators as we work to make a difference, one idea and one action at a time. Join us on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1 How have emotions helped or hindered you in your career?
  • T2 When does expressing emotions seem like an act of strength, rather than a weakness?
  • T3  How can expressing your emotions help form your reputation as an effective leader?
  • T4 What are some tactics for expressing emotions in a constructive way, that have worked successfully for you?


“The Key to Effective Leadership is Emotional Intelligence”, Deborah Munhoz, 7 April 2017,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Your Emotional Intelligence Determines Your Teams Success “, Deborah Munhoz, 16 March 2016,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Feelings Reveal Your Desires”, Deborah Munhoz, 19 May 2015,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Emotionally Intelligent Anger Management “, Deborah Munhoz, 16 March 2010,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On”, Daniel Goleman and Richard E Boyatzis, Harvard Business Review, 6 February 2017,, accessed 13 August 2017

“How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill”, Andrea Ovans, Harvard Business Review, 28 April 2015,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Emotional Intelligence is no Soft Skill”, Laura Wilcox, Harvard University Press,, accessed 13 August 2017

“A systematic review of Physician Leadership and Emotional Intelligence”, Mintz LJ, Stoller JK,, Journal of Graduate Medical Education, March 2014,, accessed 13 August 2017

“The Resilient Leader: Mind, Body and Soul, Healthcare Executive”, Buell, JM, Nov/Dec 2014,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Speak Out to Heal our Divide and Get What you Want”, Helane Fronek, 3 June 2017,, accessed 13 August 2017

“Bring on the Emotions! A physician coach values all emotions for the wisdom they offer”, Helane Fronek, 14 July 2015,, accessed 13 August 2017

“The Gift of Unhappiness: A Physician Coach suggests we get better at feeling, not just at feeling better”,Helane Fronek, 28 February 2015,, accessed 13 August 2017

Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam Books New York, 2005

Bradberry T, Greaves J, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, TalentSmart, San Diego 2009

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence, HBR Press, Boston, 2015

Image Credit – Emotions of Cups by Oguz Baki

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: