When it comes to efficiency in the workplace, emotions have been commonly viewed as a hindrance. Management books have repeatedly underlined the importance of “leaving your feelings at the door”. Recently, however, the discussion has changed. Business practices are increasingly considering the importance of emotional intelligence, particularly in leadership roles. It is estimated that around 90% of authenticity and credibility is based on a person’s EQ as opposed to their IQ. It is, therefore, imperative that those in leadership positions have a clear understanding of this “other” intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is “the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection and influence”. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term in order to understand the role feelings and emotions play in a person’s life by laying out a skillset that would maximise emotional usage. They concluded that “people who have developed skills related to emotional intelligence understand and express their own emotions, recognise emotions in others, regulate affect and use moods and emotions to motivate adaptive behaviours”.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Travis Bradeberry and Jean Greaves of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, outline four skills required to fully utilise emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
The first two skills are coupled under personal competence, which focuses on the individual ability to be aware of one’s own emotions and manage one’s own behaviours.
Self-awareness is the ability to recognise your own emotions and maintain control over them when interacting with people in specific situations and under pressure. Understanding your own self-awareness gives you the ability to identify why you are feeling a certain way. Strengthening your self-awareness also helps you communicate more clearly and effectively. You will be able to determine what is important and make better decisions as a consequence. Goals will be reached, motivation levels will rise and healthier, stronger, more rewarding relationships will form.
Self-management follows the development of emotional awareness. Once you are cognizant of your emotions, you can manage them and be in control. To have self-control is the ability to take your emotional awareness and use it towards establishing positive behaviours: to listen, remain calm during stressful situations and be patient, logical and sensitive. Mastery of self-management is the ability to apply self-control in a wide variety of situations.
The next two skills fall under social competence. Whereas the first two capabilities focus on individual emotions and behaviours, the following two focus on other people. To be socially competent is to be able to understand others’ moods, feelings, behaviours and motivations in order to actively improve relationship quality.
Social awareness is to be able to accurately glean and consider other people’s emotions and perspectives by focusing less on your own. Developing better listening and observation skills is at the core. Being socially aware means responding to what others say or to how they react, rather than to your own assumptions and expectations.
Relationship management is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and those of others in order to interact effectively and maintain long-term bonds. This skill often utilises previously developed ones, such as listening and understanding others’ emotions, towards effective communication.
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
“Leaving emotions at the door” may, in fact, be doing more damage than good. A successful leader, in any capacity, understands that their job entails encouraging and motivating others. Being effective and inspiring workplace success is greatly dependent on the use of emotional intelligence.
Self-aware leaders are:
- In control of their emotions.
- Calm, firm, straightforward, authentic and kind.
- Never aggressive, defensive or oblivious of their own actions.
Self-managed leaders are:
- Skilled at active listening and communication.
- Patient and adaptable, working well with people whose approach is different from their own.
- Never negative towards those with differing opinions or thoughts.
- Appreciative of their employees and show it.
- Able to channel their stress, never letting it get the better of them.
Socially aware leaders are:
- Able to read the emotions of those around them and adapt accordingly.
- Able to diffuse situations.
- Empathise with their employees and relate to those that work under them.
- Supportive and great listeners.
Leaders capable of managing relationships are able to:
- Develop relationships with all manners of people, including those they do not necessarily like or agree with.
- Find value in all relationships.
- Be interactive and relate authentically.
Being a leader with a strong EQ is imperative in guiding a team to accomplish business objectives. Developing emotional intelligence allows you to learn and develop better communication skills, like how to answer questions and clearly explain objectives. Key decisions are made quicker, intuition and curiosities are awakened and intellectual performance is heightened as a result. Your own improved emotional intelligence creates a stimulating and exciting work environment that will allow your team to excel and grow beyond measure.
Bradeberry, Travis and Jean Greaves. “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.” TalentSmart, California. 23-50.
Goleman, Daniel. “Working with Emotional Intelligence.” Bantam Books, New York.
Cooper, Robert K. and Ayman Sawaf. “Executive EQ.” Grosset/Putnam, New York. Xiii.
Menkes, Justin. “Executive Intelligence.” HarperCollins, New York. 157.
Tharawat Magazine, Issue 29, 2016