In 1990, Yale professors Peter Salovey and John Mayer published a landmark paper introducing the idea of Emotional Intelligence (also known as EQ), which they defined as a new type of intelligence: "the ability to recognize, understand, utilize, and regulate emotions effectively in everyday life." Today, emotional intelligence has become an integral part of effective leadership in successful organizations.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the key to better leadership. It is the ability to monitor one's own emotions and, thus, better control responses, as well as understand the emotions and feelings of others.
Here are 6 key emotional intelligence skills every leader needs.
1. Self-Awareness as a Leader
Self-awareness is the essence of understanding yourself so you can make objective decisions without the influence of your own biases or fears. It is an understanding of your own thoughts, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and perceptions, then accepting these things for what they are.
Research has shown that despite the trait of self-awareness being an important part of effective leadership, a small percentage of today's leaders actually possess it with 19 percent of women, and just four percent of men.
Self-Awareness in Action
Imagine being tasked with finding a solution for an issue in the IT department although your expertise is certainly not in technology. However, you do have an employee who is top-notch in this department and whose insights would be invaluable in helping you find that solution. The problem is, although they are a great employee, you don't care much for their personality.
A self-aware leader knows their personal biases as well as their weaknesses and is willing to recognize this in themselves. They would approach this employee and ask for their input, despite their personal feelings about the individual, because it is what's best for the company overall.
Tips For Becoming More Self-Aware
- Practice mindfulness. When you feel tension in your body, you could be thinking about something problematic. Allow yourself to stop and look inward to determine what the cause of your angst is. Don't judge it; just understand it.
- Listen carefully. Focus all of your attention on the person who is speaking and the words they are saying. Not just hearing them, but really listening. Ask questions to clarify when needed.
- Let go of control. Sometimes the need to control things can be exhausting. Allow yourself to let go of control and delegate tasks to others.
2. Self Regulation as a Leader
In a basic sense, self-regulation is the ability to control your behaviors by understanding your thoughts and emotions before acting.
Self Regulation in Action
In the midst of developing a new, expensive marketing campaign, the lead designer becomes sick and is unable to complete their work. Nobody else within the organization is qualified to take over. Instead of panicking, a self-regulating leader pauses and considers their options.
Tips for Becoming More Self-Regulating
- Try to see the good. It can be easier to get annoyed with people than not. Start practicing to see the good in people and situations. This is called cognitive reappraisal.
- View challenges as opportunities. Reframing things that some might see as negative, helps change the way you perceive it and, thus, how you respond to it.
- Practice responding instead of reacting. Give yourself time and space to contemplate what is happening so you are responding thoughtfully, rather than reacting.
3. Motivation As A Leader
The best leaders motivate themselves as well as those they lead. They see the big picture and set appropriate long-term and short-term goals for themselves and their teams.
Motivation in Action
A project is beginning to fizzle out and the team seems to be losing interest. A self-motivator will create a sense of purpose and passion by exhibiting their own desire to complete the project.
Tips For Accomplishing Motivation As A Leader
- Create routines. Creating a routine when performing tasks can help stay you on track.
- Reward and recognize. Not just employees, but yourself as well. Take time to offer a pat on the back for a job well done.
- Get "into" things. View tasks as things you get to do, rather than things you have to do. This creates excitement about the tasks at hand.
4. Empathy as a Leader
Empathetic leaders are those who understand the plights of the human experience and listen to the problems of their employees with genuine concern.
Empathy in Action
A receptionist who has historically done a terrific job and has always been punctual, suddenly begins to come into work late more often than not. Rather than becoming annoyed or angry, an empathetic leader will ask what the problem is - what is happening - and try to make adjustments to accommodate whatever the receptionist is going through.
Tips For Improving Empathy As A Leader
- Get to know people. Listen to employees when they discuss their lives and hobbies so you can better understand them as individuals.
- Ask questions. Discover new cultures and beliefs so you can better understand them.
- Learn new things. Go beyond your existing skills to learn new hobbies and skills that expand your mind.
5. Social Awareness As A Leader
Being socially aware means you understand the company culture you work for and the individuals who work within it. You make decisions based on this awareness.
Social Awareness in Action
The HR manager is interviewing for a new position in customer service. Of the two most qualified candidates, one has an unpopular opinion about something that an existing, valued customer service representative is passionate about. The manager will bear their compatibility within the organization in mind, before making a decision on which candidate to hire.
Tips For Accomplishing Social Awareness As A Leader
- Pay attention. Watch the interactions between employees and departments.
- Communicate. Talk to employees openly and encourage them to come to you with concerns, challenges, or troubles.
- Monitor body language. You can learn a lot about the relationships in a workplace by their body language. Learn to watch for social cues like gestures and facial expressions.
Emotional Intelligence is an essential part of effective leadership. It is critical for leaders to get the training and education they need to be able to understand, motivate, and lead their teams.
The Foundations of Leadership virtual course is designed to help train today's leaders in the fundamental skills necessary to improve their emotional intelligence. Download the brochure to learn more about this powerful four-module course, or contact us today for more information.