Every leader, boss, or manager with emotional intelligence whom I have ever met didn't arrive there overnight. Most worked hard for years to develop new habits, and especially new ways of thinking (i.e., self-awareness) that will inform great decisions.

If you're serious about your own leadership growth, a good first lesson should always be to step back and inspect how your thinking, which leads to your behaviors, impacts others.

How a leader thinks and then reacts to things is crucial for success. High-functioning, emotionally intelligent leaders can be trusted because their thinking patterns mostly lead to behaviors that foster mutual trust, respect, and inclusiveness.

On the flip side, dysfunctional thinking patterns of bosses lacking emotional intelligence, in my experience, almost always lead to poor decision making. These thought patterns hold them back, destroy trust with others, and damage relationships in the workplace.

13 thinking habits of leaders lacking emotional intelligence

Here are the thinking habits that will ultimately lead to undesirable behaviors, which you will never see in leaders with emotional intelligence. 

  1. Extreme thinking: Seeing the world as black and white and blowing things out of proportion.
  2. Assumptive thinking: Jumping to conclusions without looking at situations from several angles and talking to a number of people for perspective.
  3. Negative thinking: Seeing the glass as half empty and dwelling heavily on the worst possible outcome.
  4. Disorganized thinking: Not able to focus on one thing at a time, which leads to a lack of organizing work tasks and prioritizing to-do lists.
  5. Demanding thinking: Wanting things their way and having expectations that cloud a sense of reality.
  6. Judgmental thinking: Condemning others for their shortcomings and being unable to forgive.
  7. Obsessive thinking: Being unable to budge or see things as others see it; irrationally stomping down a path to prove something that is out of their control.
  8. In-denial thinking. Unable to acknowledge their errors, admit to themselves that they messed up, and take responsibility for the outcome.
  9. Confused thinking: Having pictures in their heads that do not match the real world; having a hard time seeing things without denial, blame, and negativity.
  10. Detached thinking: A superiority complex or lack of confidence in their ability to lead others causes them to detach and alienate people.
  11. Intolerant thinking: Having a need to have things the way they "should be"; finding it difficult to have patience and tolerance for differences that don't fit their needs and expectations.
  12. Perfectionistic thinking: Having a need to be "right" and not make mistakes, as that would mean he or she is inferior or a failure.
  13. Meltdown thinking: Stress and anxiety that go ignored and reach the point of a meltdown or panic attack.