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From stoic to strategic: How EI redefines women’s leadership


In the dynamic world of leadership within the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) sector, a paradigm shift is underway. The days of authoritative leaders secluded in corner offices are giving way to a new era, where women are at the forefront, armed with a potent tool: emotional intelligence (EI). This goes beyond personal emotional management – it’s about instilling empathy and understanding in teams, crucial for success in the BFSI landscape.

Women in leadership roles within the BFSI sector leverage their innate EI prowess to create collaborative environments that value diverse perspectives. According to a Hay Group survey, women outshine men in 11 of 12 major emotional intelligence characteristics, emphasizing their natural ability to lead with empathy and insight.

An exemplar of such leadership is Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Finance Minister, whose journey underscores resilience and vision. She led pivotal economic reforms like GST, simplifying tax structures. Her initiatives during COVID-19, such as the Atmanirbhar Bharat package, exhibit innovative and empathetic crisis management.

Understanding emotional intelligence: A foundation for empathetic leadership

For women leaders in the BFSI sector, building emotional intelligence is indispensable as it forms the cornerstone of empathetic leadership. Emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Mastering these special skills isn’t merely advantageous; it’s imperative for developing leaders & navigating the unique challenges of the BFSI sector, requiring heightened emotional intelligence and power skills.

Statistic | AntWalk | Capability over credentials

Mastering emotional intelligence: Essential components

Developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong pursuit that empowers women leaders to foster empathetic leadership and build inclusive organizational cultures. According to Statista, 52% organizations employ senior management based on their emotional intelligence skills.

Training leaders in emotional intelligence becomes a powerful tool for reshaping BFSI workplaces and leaving a lasting impact. By investing in capability-building initiatives, leaders can enhance their emotional intelligence, ultimately transforming and positively influencing organizational dynamics for the long term.

Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup exemplifies emotional intelligence in action. Known for her empathy and strong communication skills, she prioritizes employee well-being. Her focus on work-life balance with ‘Zoom-free Fridays’ and remote work options demonstrates her understanding of employee needs.

Essential components of Emotional Intelligence | AntWalk

Self-awareness: Navigating personal strengths and weaknesses 

Self-awareness, a cornerstone of emotional intelligence (EI), is particularly pronounced in women executives. According to a study, 19% of interviewed women executives exhibited self-awareness, a stark contrast to their male counterparts at 4%.

This skill involves understanding strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and values. Such profound self-knowledge enables women leaders to navigate professional settings effectively, leveraging strengths and authentically connecting with teams, fostering transparency, and trust in the workplace.

Self-regulation: Cultivating composed decision-making

Complementing self-awareness, self-regulation is integral to emotional intelligence in BFSI sector. It empowers women leaders to manage and control their emotions effectively, ensuring composed decision-making even under pressure. By mastering self-regulation, leaders create an environment where emotional stability prevails, fostering a culture of resilience and adaptability.

Research underscores its significance, highlighting that leaders’ emotional states significantly impact subordinates’ emotions and behaviors, whether positive or negative.

Empathy: Fostering understanding and connection

Global leadership development firm DDI ranks empathy as the #1 leadership skill, with leaders high in empathy performing 40% better in coaching, engagement, and decision-making. In the BFSI sector, empathy serves as the pulsating core of emotional intelligence, fostering inclusive workplaces where diverse perspectives are valued.

It’s about understanding, and not just acknowledging emotions; nurturing a culture where every voice resonates. Within this empathetic leadership paradigm, women leaders create an environment where team members feel valued, propelling collaboration and innovation.

Effective communication: Articulating vision and values

  • Effective communication becomes a vital skill in leadership. It involves tailoring your message to your audience and using emotional intelligence to connect with them. A leader who understands the importance of emotional intelligence can articulate their vision with passion and purpose, inspiring their team to believe in the bigger picture.
  • Emotional intelligence 2.0 emphasizes self-awareness and clear communication. This allows leaders to deliver constructive feedback with empathy and clarity, ensuring team members feel supported and motivated to improve. Women leaders who master this soft skill create a cohesive work environment, where every team member understands the organizational goals and their role in achieving them.
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Conflict resolution: Turning challenges into opportunities

Conflict resolution is pivotal for women leaders, transcending mere problem-solving to opportunities for growth. According to Forbes, the typical manager spends 25-40 percent of her time on workplace conflicts.

Emotional intelligence empowers leaders to actively listen, comprehend root causes, and promote open communication. This not only helps in conflict management in the workplace, but also nurtures a positive workplace where diverse perspectives are valued. With emotional intelligence, leaders turn disagreements into opportunities for innovation and improvement, fostering collaboration and enhancing overall leadership effectiveness.

Capability building: Strengthening leadership skills with AntWalk

In the quest to build leadership skills and master emotional intelligence, innovative strategies for continuous development are paramount. AntWalk’s programs employ a strategic development approach, ensuring leaders are not only well-versed in theory but equipped to navigate real-world challenges with empathetic prowess.

AntWalk provides access to cutting-edge emotional intelligence assessment tools, including the emotional intelligence 2.0 assessment. These tools offer leaders valuable insights into their emotional intelligence competencies and areas for growth.

AntWalk offers various tailored programs | Antwalk


As we conclude our exploration of emotional intelligence (EI) in women’s leadership within the BFSI sector, a powerful truth emerges: Mastering EI isn’t just a skill; it’s a transformative journey. It empowers women leaders to redefine BFSI leadership, fostering inclusive and impactful organizational cultures that stand the test of time.

Leadership in the BFSI sector goes beyond knowing about emotional intelligence; it’s about unleashing the leader within you. AntWalk’s programs illuminate this path, guiding women leaders to lead with heart, embrace empathy, and become architects of a more collaborative and authentic BFSI leadership future. By mastering EI, women leave a lasting impact on their teams and organizations, forever changing the landscape of BFSI leadership.

AntWalk | Corporate Training

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AntWalk Envisions a world where merit and capability transcend all barriers – race, gender, sexual orientation, language, degree, or years of experience.

Mission: We help Organizations measure and build human Capabilities in line with their Business Priorities.

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Rohan Shri

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