Emotional intelligence skills are one of the crucial in the superstructure of leadership skills. None of the leadership skills is of much value standing alone but every one of them must be supported by another skill from the list (for example, great vision means a little without planning and plan is just a paper without motivation, etc.)
And emotional Intelligence, Eq or EI, is perhaps the one that permeates all other skills important for leadership. As Daniel Goleman stated for the Harvard Business Review:
“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 IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.”
Different people have different levels of emotional intelligence, but a great thing about it is that emotional intelligence skills can be developed. In this article, you can learn about this important part of human psyche things like:
- What is emotional intelligence
- What are the emotional intelligence skills
- How to improve particular EI skills
- Why EQ matters in leadership
…and much more.
Emotional Intelligence Definition
Emotional intelligence is the term first used not so long ago, in 1990. It was coined by an American social psychologist and current President of Yale University, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, an American personality psychologist at the University of New Hampshire.
According to Salovey and Mayer,
“Emotional intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to manage and monitor one’s own as well as other’s emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.
Today, everybody knows that high IQ (people’s cognitive capabilities) doesn’t guarantee success and for that we need to thank Daniel Goleman. Daniel Goleman is an author and science journalist who brought the term emotional intelligence to a wider audience and popularise it through his writing and especially the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995)”.
You can find his definition of EI in the article about the Importance of leadership skills in modern business. Here are some other quotes by this famous author who dedicated his work to a large degree to the EI phenomenon which is of great importance for leadership.
“In a very real sense, we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”
“People’s emotions are rarely put into words, far more often they are expressed through other cues. The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, gesture, facial expression and the like.”
“Out-of-control emotions can make smart people stupid.”
“Many people with IQs of 160 work for people with IQs of 100 if the former have poor intrapersonal intelligence and the latter have a high one.”
“People tend to become more emotionally intelligent as they age and mature.”
Getting a sense of the importance of the EQ phenomenon? Let’s dive dipper…
Emotional Intelligence Skills
Developing successful emotional intelligence begins by understanding your emotions and their meanings. With this understanding, you must uncover productive ways to manage your emotions, then use them to benefit yourself and others.
The key skills you should work on to build your EQ and improve your ability to manage emotions are:
Self-management is a really important skill and way of growing as a person. At the workplace and especially in leadership, self-management skills are simply a MUST. In order to effectively achieve your overall career objectives, you must use clearly defined methods.
Self-management skills include:
- Consistency – Be stable. The values you hold should always be transparent. Always changing can not only cause others to question your beliefs, but it can also cause you to become confused about what you truly believe.
- Organizational Skills – If you are scheduled to complete a particular task, do it. Don’t just do it, but make sure it is done in a timely manner. It is easy to feel stressed and out of control when you disregard the plan. Lists, a calendar or diary, and even a tidy desk are things that should be your everyday tools.
- Accountability – There are times when things don’t work out as you plan, but you have to be able to admit that and then use your flexibility to get things back on track.
- Permanent Education – We live in an ever-changing world and you want to be able to keep up. Don’t let change pass you by. Talk and listen to mentors and peers. They may know something that could help you along your journey.
- Staying physically fit – Exercising your body is just as crucial to self-management as exercising your mind. A body that is not well-rested, nutritionally fed, or physically exercised can lead to emotional and physical illnesses.
Being ‘aware’ of one’s self is the ability to accurately perceive one’s skills and knowledge, value and responsibilities. It is being confident in what you have to offer, whether it is personally or professionally.
Self-awareness gives power and a sense of peace or happiness. Also, it allows us to see the importance of making changes to improve, if necessary.
The lack of self-awareness can cause you to not realize your worth in the company or even the quality of the work you perform. This can have an even more dramatic effect when you hold a leadership position. Not only will you have doubts about yourself, but the people you lead will also begin to question your competence, which could ultimately lead to a lack of leadership effectiveness.
Self-Regulation is another term for ‘self-control’, which is defined as the ability to control one’s emotions, desires, and behaviors in order to reach a positive outcome.
This is sometimes difficult because of the phenomenon that it is important to ‘express how you feel’. While this may be partially true, the art of finding the balance between expressing one’s feelings and avoiding unnecessary tension is self-regulation.
The best leaders keep themselves highly motivated because otherwise, it would be impossible to motivate others. Also, you must learn to motivate yourself because you cannot depend on others to do it for you. You have to know how to encourage yourself regardless of how bad the situation is.
The ability to motivate yourself, or in other words self-motivation, is an important skill. Self-motivation drives people to keep going even in the face of setbacks. Also, it drives us to take up opportunities and to commit to what we want to achieve.
There are several keys to building self-motivation:
- Work towards a cause.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Make the conscious effort to not give up.
- Don’t live in your past failures or successes.
- Utilize positive thinking
“The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings,” is empathy definition by Alvin Goldman.
In order for empathy to work, a person must first be able to recognize, classify, and understand their own feelings.
It is not as simple as it sounds. The ideal situation would be for a person to express their issues and you empathize with them, but the fact is, people aren’t always as forthcoming with their problems, even though it is obvious that there is something wrong. Since this is the case, you may be forced to ask probing questions or read between the lines of what is said. You can also focus on non-verbal cues such as body language.
Emotional Intelligence Examples in Practice
When emotional intelligence is appreciated at a workplace it may not be obvious at first glance but it can be sensed in a positive way. If you ever worked in a toxic work environment you would surely be able to notice a huge difference.
Leaders of today put the effort in creating a healthy workplace environment. Healthy workplace environments can be recognized by examples like:
- Employees express themselves openly and respectfully.
- There is no fear of offending others by expressing themselves.
- When someone is talking to the group others listen actively.
- Flexibility is present.
- Creativity is highly appreciated and encouraged.
- When new initiatives are introduced, if there is a resilience, it is obvious.
- There is compassion for coworkers who have bad days.
- Often people spend together time outside the workplace.
An effective leader, with emotional intelligence skills on a high level, can monitor and utilize emotions in such a way to regulate and motivate people around them. Also, as we already said before, leaders must keep themselves motivated too.
There are times when you may need the motivation to get motivated. Positive thinking may not be doing the trick. What should you do? Consider these suggestions:
- Write down your plan for improvement.
- Briefly think about your past successes.
- Read books that promote self-motivation
Emotional Intelligence Skills Matters in Leadership
Leadership has been widely considered as having an influence on other people’s actions and behavior through guiding. So, leaders must be aware of their emotions because it is a key to successful interaction with others.
Building and maintaining good interpersonal relationships at work is a base for good leadership and a person’s ability for doing that is reflected in their EQ.
Through good interpersonal relationships, the climate of trust, respect and credibility is being established within the organization. And that is a channel through which leaders inspire and motivate employees to move forward set goals with passion and enthusiasm.
Being able to think clearly and calmly is especially important when leaders need to step out in the time of crises and difficult situations because it is a necessary condition for making good decisions.
Last, but not the least, good interpersonal relationships mean less stress and have a positive impact on one’s health. That means even more energy for leaders to guide their followers in desired directions.
And how would you rate the current level of satisfaction with your relationships at work? Use a scale of 1 to 10 for better orientation. If you think there is room for improvement have in mind that emotional intelligence skills can be developed through education and training.