Emotional Intelligence: Business Leadership
“There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning are all linked.”
– Eric Jensen.
Have you ever wondered what the world’s most influential leaders have in common? Leaders of all levels can agree that although technical skills are an essential element of management, effective leadership is all about emotional intelligence. Moreover, leaders who succeed in their position understand that one of the most significant assets a business possesses is people. Understanding what drives people in a work environment distinguishes ordinary and remarkable leaders.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is a concept that was first introduced as a theory in 1990 by psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. Since then, authors like Daniel Goleman have further deepened the importance of emotional intelligence as a meaningful aspect of one’s professional life. Psychologists describe emotional intelligence as the capacity to identify and understand the emotions of others around you and the ability to recognize and control your own.
Leaders lay a foundation for a business’s dynamic environment; they send a message in how they react to situations or treat people around them. Therefore, emotional intelligence will be an important skill that leaders need to strengthen.
It is essential to remember that employees will often imitate a leader’s behavior throughout the organization. Therefore, social interaction can either benefit or damage overall performance.
What are the elements of an emotionally intelligent leader?
How do we start understanding emotional intelligence without knowing what dynamic intelligence leaders demonstrate daily?
Emotional intelligence has five components:
The capacity to perceive and comprehend one’s emotions is known as self-awareness. Identifying your own strengths, personality, and needs can help you make better decisions and constantly improve in your role. Self-awareness contributes to emotional control and growth. Self-aware leaders carefully evaluate how their decisions and actions are viewed by others and seek to correct any flaws in their leadership style to lead their peers successfully.
Self-regulation is the capacity to control the influence that emotions cause. The responsibility that a leadership role entails inevitably comes with a fair share of stress. Self-regulation enables a controlled reaction to situations that may cause conflict in the workplace and facilitates better decision-making under pressure.
Motivation is the desire to achieve and create personal goals. A motivated leader inspires their team to meet objectives, encourages positive change, and motivates their peers to reach their full potential; they devote time to understanding people’s priorities, strengths, and needs, making them feel appreciated.
According to author Daniel Coleman “Empathy represents the foundation skill for all the social competencies important for work.” People are constantly experiencing a certain mental pressure to perform according to their role. According to Everest College’s Work Stress Survey, more than 80% of Americans report feeling stressed, with work being a significant source of stress for 46% of them. Understanding an employee’s issues is the first step in being empathetic as a leader.
One of the most crucial talents to cultivate as a leader is social skills. Social skills refer to the abilities required to understand and affect the emotions of others successfully. In addition, it entails the capacity to settle problems and express work visions effectively. Social skills like the capacity to handle and resolve a disagreement are a helpful resource in business. It all starts with grasping the importance of tact and diplomacy and how managers may use them to help defuse tense situations, always keeping in mind the appropriate social behavior that you should have at work. Remember, professionalism is a foundation to build an effective work environment.
Why is emotional intelligence an essential ability within an organization?
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, what if my work environment was different? Would my team leader’s approaches make work easier? Of course, everyone wants a self-aware, sympathetic, and professional leader in their team. Employees always collaborate better to attain professional goals when managers are mindful of other people’s needs. For instance, employees who feel cared for are more inclined to stay with understanding bosses, who are more willing to recognize and reward them when they put effort in work, and show an enthusiasm for improving.
Commonly, influential business leaders consider emotional intelligence a desirable talent that may enhance workplace communication, organization, problem-solving, and connections. However, it’s also a talent that, according to studies, can be improved through effort and experience.
We have seen in these pandemic times that we need emotionally intelligent leaders more than ever. In a crisis, the emotionally intelligent leader has a better chance of managing many relationships. For example, leaders who can connect deeper with themselves find it simpler to inspire people and manage conflict. Sometimes, being in a position in which so many things depend on you, makes you forget about your own needs. Spend a few time each day observing how well-rested you are, how your body feels, what mindset you are in, and what thoughts are there.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence are self-aware; they can fully regulate and motivate themselves during an uncertain period.
How to improve your emotional intelligence as a leader?
“Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.”
― Daniel Goleman
Even if you know the importance of emotional intelligence as a leader, there is always room for improvement.
There are some approaches that can allow you to increase emotional intelligence:
Improve emotional self-control:
Things will not always go your way. We cannot always expect to control every aspect of life. Unexpected outcomes will happen and they will overwhelm you.
However, an effective way of managing outbursts in times of stress is to be aware of the benefits of pausing and assessing a situation. Our Marketing Director says, “We need to establish an environment in which the lines of communication are open for everyone. When it comes to my team, I prefer to take time to meditate when it comes to decision-making to prevent emotions from clouding one’s judgment.”
Therefore, it is important to remember that it is best to consider employees as persons, not merely as results providers.
Improve empathy, Improve as a Leader
By employing your emotions as a navigational tool, you will handle challenges more easily, creating an empathic work environment in which all employees can excel.
An instance in which a leader practices empathy is when they actively listen to colleagues. Start by talking with your coworkers; you can gain great insight from what people say. Team members need to know that they can express opinions and be understood; this builds respect and trust among coworkers.
Furthermore, refrain from negatively passing judgment. As mentioned before, things will not always go your way. Pause for a minute and try to think about circumstances in which you would have taken the same decisions that led to that outcome.
Changing your viewpoint and controlling yourself will help you develop tolerance and restore balance.
Finally, empathy is a skill that takes time to develop. But unfortunately, it is a soft skill frequently underdeveloped and misunderstood in businesses. As a result, individuals tend to become lost in monotonous routines and neglect to remain aware of their behavior, and this is all a natural aspect of being human. Therefore, leaders must cultivate empathy skills from the start. Each person requires time and effort, and it must be a continuous process.