You might picture someone who never lets their temper gets out of control, no matter what problems they’re facing. Or you might think of someone who has the complete trust of their staff, listens to the team, and always makes careful, informed decisions. These are qualities of someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence.
In this article, we'll look at why emotional intelligence is so important for leaders and how you, as a leader, can improve yours.
5 key elements of emotional intelligence
An emotional quotient or emotional intelligence (EQ/ EI) indicates the ability to control your own emotions and those around you. Many people mistake EI for being optimistic and confident when in reality, EI requires a lot of self-regulation.
Some leaders are born with high EI, but just like your leadership skills, this quotient can be trained and improved.
There are five key elements to EI that every leader should be aware of:
- Self-awareness: you are aware of your own feelings and how an outburst of negative emotions can affect your subordinates. Self-awareness is the core of high EI, and those who have mastered this level shows confidence, laugh at his/ herself as well as has the ability to read others’ reactions.
- Self-regulation: instead of verbally attacking others, you take a moment to reflect and think before responding. A self-regulated leader is adaptable to changes, calm, and most importantly he/she admits to their own mistakes rather than blaming others.
- Motivation: that includes both self-motivation and motivating those around you. Self-motivated leaders have a clear vision, high standards of what they want to achieve and they consistently work to achieve that goal.
- Empathy: the ability to understand another person’s emotion, which can only be achieved when you’ve mastered self-awareness. Empathy plays a vital part in managing a successful team as you are perceptive of others’ emotions, therefore, you tend to take a more proactive approach to anticipate their needs.
- Social skills: leaders that have the social skills element of EI are open to taking in new ideas, willing to listen and respond appropriately. They are also great at managing conflicts and feel unsatisfied if things are left undone.
Emotional intelligence in leadership
Having all five key elements of emotional intelligence mentioned above in a single leader can greatly benefit your organisation. And it is not just assumptions but research-based evidence that has proven a strong positive impact that highly emotionally intelligent leaders can make on organisational performance.
For example, Sanofi-Aventis, the fourth largest pharmaceutical company worldwide, invested in the emotional intelligence aspect of their sales force, and as a result, the annual performance increased by 12 per cent.Read more: 7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ
An emotionally intelligent leader helps boost the overall performance due to a number of reasons but perhaps the most important factor is their ability to inspire others. In essence, the leader creates a harmonise work environment that constantly entices their employees’ motivation and productivity.
Individuals are more inclined to go the extra mile if they are asked by a more empathetic person, someone they trust and respect. Such effort can be multiplied if your organisation acquired a team full of highly emotionally intelligent leaders.
And let’s face it, you would be happier to work for this type of leader too instead of those with low emotional intelligence, who likes micromanaging and basically just drain you and your staff physically and emotionally.Read more: How different is business leadership and management across the globe?
All in all, though a high EI is beneficial but having a high IQ and extensive technical skills still matter. A business-savvy leader is better at predicting the business aspects while the EI elements are better at resolving people-related issues. EI is as critical as IQ in getting everyone on board with your plan, empowering them to work in harmony together to reach the common goal. You can be a critical leader but won’t be a great leader that everyone respects without EI.
To remain competitive in this day and age, companies need to invest further in improving their leadership and management skills.