Business Transformation

6 Ways to Leverage Emotional Intelligence As a Leader

Coming from a family of physicians, it is natural to find myself discussing the challenges and joys after work hours with loved ones. During a conversation with my son, he pointed out that while my dad, a surgeon, helped one patient at a time, I was helping hundreds of patients at a time by advising providers on an innovative treatment option for those in their care.  As a dad, I could not have been prouder. As a company leader, I could not have been more motivated. I joined BrainsWay to follow my passion for noninvasive healthcare solutions, such as Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS), a non-invasive treatment that is clinically proven to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and, recently, smoking addiction.

I feel fortunate to be in a position that can influence how our society treats mental illness and start each day with a simple thought that keeps me grounded – we are people helping people. And it is with this mindset, I can lean into emotional intelligence as a leader.

Working in mental health is particularly rewarding, but it also comes with a unique set of challenges, which were significantly exacerbated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I firmly believe leveraging emotional intelligence can directly contribute to a company’s bottom line and has aided in the success that our company has seen in the past year, even during the darkest days of 2020.

How to lean into emotional intelligence as a leader 

  1. Learn, then ask
    I believe it is important to bring intellectual curiosity to everything we do, including running a company. Even with years of experience, there is always something new to learn – the pandemic certainly taught us that. I am always trying to learn better ways to run the business and support our people. From listening to podcasts, reading a myriad of books, to attending webinars. I never want to take for granted the wealth of information available at our fingertips. But, all the expert advice is still no substitute for collecting feedback firsthand. For example, if you are looking for ways to motivate your team, sometimes the best course is to simply ask them.
  2. Listen, then act
    We recently conducted an employee survey to find out how people are feeling about their work, their challenges, and what we are doing as a company in the midst of the pandemic. We are committed to continuing to listen to the needs and expectations of those who help us carry the load. And while listening is the first step, as mentioned earlier, it must be followed by swift action. This is how employees know you’ve got their backs and their feedback is truly making a difference.
  3. Talk, then walk
    It is important to me that every member of our team understands our goals as much as the challenges we are up against – and participates in these discussions. Clear communication and transparency keep us moving forward. However, it is equally important to follow these conversations with personal action. I want my team to know that I’m in the trenches with them. It is not simply telling your team to row the boat; I believe you have to also pick up a paddle. It is this type of teamwork mentality that I believed enabled us to pass one of our largest milestones: treating more than 100,000 patients with Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS).
  4. Establish values, then live them
    We spend a lot of time at work, so it is important to have a clear set of values that everyone fully believes in. An example of this is when we set out to begin the first wave of distribution for our helmet to treat smoking addiction. One of the many adverse effects of the pandemic was the uptick in smoking. Our employees knew that getting the first group of helmets out across the country was one more weapon against the attack that the virus continued to unleash on the mental health of our society.
  5. Empower your employees, then let go
    The letting go part can be challenging for me, and for many people in leadership positions, because we typically want to be in control and have reached this point in our careers due to a heightened level of care. But I have learned over the years that I cannot and should not try to do it all. The solution is to have smart, capable people in place who can get the job done. They need leeway to flourish…and make mistakes. If you are not afraid to make mistakes, you almost always uncover new ideas and innovations that make the organization stronger.
    My mind immediately went to these smart, capable people when ringing the NASDAQ closing bell this May. Standing with other members of leadership, we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month and the successful raise of more than $45M. We knew that without the dedication of our employees and belief in our mission none of this would have been possible. It is because we have the right and empowered people, that while many companies were forced to shutter their doors due to the pandemic, ours pressed on in the fight against mental illness, and only grew stronger.
  6. Work, then make time to relax
    This has been extremely difficult for me, but I must remember I am not invincible. I know there is only so much I can do in a working day. Having a family has certainly helped me become a bit better at establishing a work-life balance, but since the pandemic began, it has remained a daily challenge. Especially since healthcare is an “around the clock” sector, and I know our work can have a major impact on people’s lives. However, we all know what’s best for us: to set proper boundaries to balance your life can actually improve your productivity and sense of well-being.

l navigated through the tough year of 2020, the world learned a lot about mental health consequences – exacerbated feelings of anxiety, depression, OCD, and more – even for those who may not have struggled with these conditions before. Yet, it is encouraging to see that people today know it is okay to not feel okay, to talk about it, and to reach out for help. It makes me hopeful that we are breaking down the stigma of mental illness, which brings those who need help one step closer to receiving it.


Written by Dr. Christopher von Jako.

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Dr. Christopher von Jako
Dr. Christopher von Jako, PhD is President and CEO of BrainsWay. He is a technology-driven executive who brings over 25 years of leadership and experience in the global medical device market to his job. He is especially passionate about the development and commercialization of minimally invasive techniques to improve health and transform lives.
Dr. Christopher von Jako is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.