“What distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones? It isn’t IQ or technical skills. It’s emotional intelligence: a group office skills that enable the best leaders to maximise their own and their follower’s performance.”

If your goal is to become a real leader, high levels of emotional intelligence is what you should work towards. Although each of us is born with certain levels of emotional intelligence skills, we also acquire them as a result of various life experiences, and volunteering could be one of them.


The emotional intelligence skills are:

  • Self-awareness – knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others
  • Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods
  • Motivation – relishing achievement for its own sake
  • Empathy – understanding other people’s emotional makeup
  • Social skill – building rapport with others to move them in desired directions


It can be difficult to recognise which skills you are good at, and which ones need further development, but once you grasp the understanding of those, it is only a matter of repeating a behavioural sequence up to a point, where the new neural pathways become the brain’s default option.

As a student, it might not be so simple to commit to a paid position, in which case, volunteering is an ideal way to come to an understanding of which skills need to be developed, and an opportunity to work on them. When volunteering with other people, it is useful to ask for feedback on what they think you can improve on when interacting with others.

Whether you have just started your academic journey, or are in your last year of higher education, it is the right time to start developing your leadership skills and volunteering could be a good start. It can allow you to gain understanding of what is expected within a workplace environment in order to become an effective leader, as well as beginning to further develop skills sought for by the potential employers.


Volunteering services offer a wide variety of volunteering opportunities suited for everyone, whatever your education background, or the skills you want to develop. Therefore, always check Engage for brand new opportunities.

If you need any further help with application process or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us on volunteering@westminster.ac.uk


Goleman, D. (2004). What makes a Leader? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 82-91.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2001), Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 42-51.


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