The Benefits of Leading with Emotional Intelligence

By
Mariam Rowhani
BetterManager Executive Coach

March 16, 2021

The Benefits Of Leading With Emotional Intelligence

Our world is increasingly becoming technology driven, however, we should not forget that there's a corresponding need for the uniquely human ability(1) to work with and through others to accomplish important goals. In this 21st century, we are witnessing the rapid progression and overuse of social media, increased isolation from nature, and a lack of social engagement.(2) With that being said, EQ can help us (re)establish connection.

For many years, people believed that in order to be a strong leader, one must keep their emotions out of the workplace and keep a firm boundary between their personal and professional lives. It is becoming more understood and accepted that this is not only incorrect but also impossible!

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions as well as recognizing, understanding, and influencing the emotions of others. And for today's leaders, EQ has become a "must-have" to be successful.

Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important Than IQ

More than a decade ago, Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence saying, "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 the IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but... they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions."

EQ helps you successfully give and receive feedback, coach team members, meet tight deadlines, handle stress, manage change, collaborate with others, and deal with setbacks and failures. High EQ often sets apart high performers from others with similar skills and enables them to move up.

Because we are communicating our emotions constantly – in our tone of voice, our body language, through our actions, and with the particular words we choose, this ability does not always come easily and is directly correlated to one's EQ. Each of us have different characteristics and personality traits. As humans, we all want different things out of life and have different ways of showing our emotions. It requires an inordinate amount of tact and talent to navigate through this – especially if we hope to succeed in life. This is where emotional intelligence becomes important.

An integral part of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions and understand what it is trying to communicate to you.  From there, you can realize the impact your emotions are having on those around you. Also, it involves how you perceive others: when you understand where they are coming from, you will be able to manage relationships more effectively.

While there are many factors that contribute to one's EQ, there are five central attributes:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Empathy & Compassion
  • Relationship Management
  • Communication

Science shows that emotional intelligence is not a fixed trait - it can be cultivated, increased, and honed if one is willing to practice and tend to it on an ongoing basis.

Next, we will explore some suggestions for improving each of the five factors that contribute to emotional intelligence enabling leaders to drive greater happiness, collaboration, and loyalty amongst their teams.

How to Practice Emotional Intelligence

Self-Assessment:

Take the time to ask yourself difficult questions such as:  

  • What are my strengths as a leader?  
  • What are my struggles?  
  • What are my biases?  
  • What are my triggers?  
  • When am I at my best?

In order to better answer these questions, ask for feedback from those around you (your boss, your peers, your team) regularly, often and truly listen. Build a plan of action to address what you've learned. Consult with your coach or mentor. Keep a journal to better recognize your patterns.

Self-Regulation:

One way to increase your ability to regulate your emotions is through mindfulness practices. Being mindful means focusing your attention on what you are feeling in a given moment, without judgment or an immediate need to act. Sometimes, it means just taking a moment to sit with an emotion, taking a brief walk, or stepping away. By doing this, you create space between your feelings and your behavior. Once you understand your state of mind, you’ll be in a better position to decide the best course of action.

Empathy & Compassion:

In order to increase your empathy for others, remember that allowing yourself to feel another’s emotions does not mean you are responsible for fixing them. It is important to put aside your own viewpoint for long enough to genuinely consider theirs. When working with others, ask how they are doing regularly, and when they tell you, listen, and be fully present with them. Elevate others and prioritize the success of your team members.

Relationship Management:

Try to view conflict as an opportunity for growth. Take responsibility for your actions, and encourage others to do the same. Genuinely listen to what your team members communicate to you. Consult with your coach, mentor, or your boss during times of conflict - having another mind to run situations through is immensely helpful.

Communication:

Whenever possible, communication with your team should be done in person or virtually (rather than over Slack, email, etc.). When communicating, prioritize listening over speaking. Ask questions, clarify, reflect back on what you are hearing to make sure you’ve understood correctly.  Pay attention to body language and other nonverbal cues. When speaking, be as transparent as you can be. Practice talking through difficult subjects with your coach or mentor.

We hope that the outlined key elements of emotional Intelligence will enable you to start applying them.  It is one of the most important leadership characteristics that you should assess, develop, and continue to grow throughout your career. Make the time to regularly assess your EQ and ask for feedback, and put actions into place. You'll feel the difference and so will your team!

Resources

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence, Harvard Professional Development, 2019

Emotional Intelligence, Technology & Lonelines, 6Seconds.org

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves.

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

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About Mariam Rowhani

Mariam is a freelance writer offering support for businesses & entrepreneurs locally and globally. She brings a significant amount of experience in the corporate marketing industry and as a freelancer in content management, internet research, blogging, article writing, copy editing, and proofreading.

Her mission is to empower business owners to produce content that clearly and authentically communicates with their target audiences, ultimately making lives less stressful as well as allowing for more free time to live more well-balanced and healthier lives.

Episode Transcript

Posted on

March 16, 2021