Elevating EHS leadership with emotional intelligence

How to move from a culture of compliance to one of compassion

Elevating EHS leadership with emotional intelligence
Nikhil Rattan

In the changing world of EHS, being a leader having emotional intelligence is incredibly valuable. Technical expertise is important but what truly sets good EHS leaders apart is their ability to navigate human relationships and build genuine connections. EHS leaders carry the responsibility of helping protect their organizations and workforce and face a range of challenges from ensuring compliance with regulations to fostering a culture focused on safety. In this high-stakes environment, emotional intelligence plays a more vital role by enabling leaders to establish connections, inspire others and to drive positive change.


Empathy lies at the heart of emotional intelligence. It involves understanding and sharing the emotions of others. Leaders who effectively demonstrate empathy can connect with their employees on a much deeper level by caring about their well-being. This fosters trust and encourages communication as employees feel comfortable sharing concerns or reporting safety issues to leaders who truly have their best interests in mind.


Self-awareness is another aspect of emotional intelligence that forms the foundation for effective leadership. It empowers leaders to understand their strengths and weaknesses and recognize how their actions and decisions impact those around them. Without self-awareness leaders might unknowingly make choices that compromise safety or undermine employee morale. Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. First Lady, wisely remarked, "You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do". This sentiment relates to EHS leadership since leaders who truly possess positive self-awareness can focus on their responsibilities without concern for validation. This allows them to make decisions that prioritize the safety and well being of their teams.

In conclusion having emotional intelligence is an indispensable attribute for EHS leaders. By nurturing empathy and self-awareness leaders can inspire their teams and promote a safer and healthier work environment. As author John C. Maxwell wisely said, "Leadership is not about titles, positions or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another".