Emotional Intelligence in Leaders

Emotional Intelligence

Leading with emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman said, ‘Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.’

Having built and managed high performing teams over the last 30 Years, I cannot but agree more with this statement! I have often seen in my career that despite the knowledge a leader has or what pedigree they come from if they do not demonstrate EI at work, they often fail. Emotions overtake rational decision making.

As a leader, the job skills that helped you in your growth till now may not assure you of your next role. There is one element that one must consider, that is Emotional Intelligence. It is what helps leaders coach, manage and collaborate with the teams in an efficient manner. According to studies, Emotional Intelligence accounts for nearly 90 percent of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills and knowledge.

Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Quadrant

Daniel Goleman has done a lot of work in the space of EI and his Emotional Intelligence model with the four domains of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management (originally developed in 1998 with five domains and redesigned in 2002 with four) is a good start to understand the concepts of EI.

Managing Self

It starts with you! If a leader cannot manage oneself, how will he/she be able to manage others? This is where Emotional Intelligence takes a more active role as it is “…the ability to recognize and manage our own feelings and to recognize and respond effectively to those of others.”

People often tell me that I deal with tough situations in a calm manner. However, there have been times when I have lost my cool and regretted it as well, and people have quit my company too. Staying calm in the face of a storm is not a natural quality that people are born with. It is something that you cultivate over years. We are humans at the end of the day and emotions are normal.

There is nothing wrong in showing your emotions. In fact at times, as a leader, it is important to show your emotions to connect with other people, but it is always important to manage it so that it never becomes toxic and unbearable to the other party.

Recognizing your emotions and that of the others

When leaders can understand their own thoughts, feelings and emotions, it positively effects their interactions with others and also their decision-making capacity. Even understanding weaknesses can help change the communication style when needed, thereby creating a fair and inclusive workspace.

Social awareness is when a leader can understand the mood of the team, care about them and understand the deeper meaning of what is being said. Social skills including active listening, verbal & nonverbal communication and persuasiveness helps leaders in connecting with the teams.

Empathy also plays a key role while dealing with others. Understanding others’ emotions and relating to them can help you look at the issue from all viewpoints and be objective. Empathetic leaders are great listeners, and they can defuse biases as they are more considerate and fairer. It helps build a strong rapport with your team.

The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Emotional intelligence has the power to create a happier and healthier working culture and this in turn can help meet organisational targets. Emotionally intelligent leaders are objective through their self-awareness. This plays a significant role in promoting a workplace that is not only highly motivated, but also productive and equal. 

On the contrary, a leader who acts irrationally is not easy to work with. There is usually a lot of unresolved conflict, tension and fear in such workspaces. This might make people want to either fight or take flight. This is why self-regulation is something that can be rewarding for leaders. Don’t you think being approachable is a positive leadership quality?

In Summary

Emotional Intelligence has a massive positive impact. It helps control stress, minimises conflict, improves teamwork, enhances communication, increases motivation, promotes a positive work culture, and makes you an impactful leader.

Workplaces where there is a blame culture and those that are high stress are those that lack emotionally intelligent leaders. The good news is that emotional intelligence can be taught and practiced.

There are leaders who can drain you and those who can inspire you! Which one would you like to be?

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