Many people think leaders succeed due to power and position, it is continuously proven that Emotional Intelligence is a key attribute of empowered leaders. Yet sadly, its one that many leaders lack. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand what others are experiencing emotionally using self-awareness and self-management as a guide. The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness is an essential skill for leading a successful team.
In 1998, psychologist Daniel Goleman established the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership. in what has become one of HBR’s most enduring articles, “What Makes a Leader,” he states unequivocally:
The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.
Emotional intelligence for leaders consists of five elements: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, relationship management, and effective communication.
As humans, we have all experienced a spectrum of emotions and are aware of how these emotions can have a positive or negative effect on us - our ability to focus, feel motivated, make good decisions, inspire and lead a team.
Being emotionally intelligent provides a significant advantage in building an exceptional team.
A leader lacking in emotional intelligence is not able to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead. Leaders who are “hot headed”, responding without a filter, can create angst and fear among their staff and seriously jeopardize their working relationships. Reacting with erratic emotions can be detrimental to the overall culture, attitudes and positive feelings toward the company and the mission. Empowered leaders must be self-aware and understand how their level of emotional intelligence impacts their team.
Take a few minutes to determine where you stand on the elements below.
Self-Assessment: Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness—getting in touch with your intuition. Leaders who heed their inner voices can draw on more resources to make better decisions and connect with their authentic selves.
Do you understand and acknowledge your own emotional capacity; strengths, weaknesses, values and drivers and understanding their impact on others?
Without reflection it is impossible to understand who we are, what drives us, where we thrive, and where our weaknesses fall. In order to reach your maximum potential, you must be confident in who you are – acknowledging both strengths and opportunities for improvement. And then make an effort to consistently move forward.
Self-regulation: Also known as discipline. This allows you to stay on track despite setbacks.
Empowered leaders don’t lose their cool. Being calm is essential. When you stay calm and positive you can focus, make better decisions and communicate more clearly with your team.
Do you stay calm under pressure or do you yell at your colleagues? During challenging times, can you think clearly and keep your employees calm and motivated to get through this crisis?
Empathy: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. The better we are at relating to others, the better we will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them and this is paramount to building successful teams.
Empathetic leaders follow the “2 ears and 1 mouth” rule. They spend more time listening than talking. They are also nonjudgmental, even when the feelings of their colleagues may be in opposition with their own feelings. When leaders bring awareness to the feelings of others, even when you don’t agree with them, it builds trust. And trust drives buy in, collaboration and increased productivity. Cultivating trust is a key skill of an empowered leader
Relationship Management: When you have a high level of emotional intelligence you are able to create strong relationships. Your colleagues connect to your authenticity, empathy and capacity to lead with a level head. You are able to perceive issues within your team and provide strong guidance to find solutions.
Effective Communication: The manner in which a leader communicates is of the utmost importance. Studies show that effective communication is comprised of 7% the words we say and 93% tone and body language.
Poor communication or lack there of are generally the basis of all problems. Failing to communicate effectively in a workplace leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion among employees. Effective communication can eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger workplace relationships. When employees know their role within a company and understand how they benefit the overall direction and vision, there is a sense of value and accomplishment. Good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose.
Conversely, one of the most common factors that leads to low morale and retention issues is poor communication which creates disengagement, fear and apathy.
Emotional intelligence is an essential leadership attribute for exceeding goals, improving critical work relationships, and creating a healthy, productive workplace and organizational culture. Begin to look inside to see where you can begin to make some positive change for yourself and your organization.