"A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them."-- M. D. Arnold
Effective leaders share their own unique qualities. Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) holds a prominent place out of them. In fact, emotional intelligence has been identified as one of the prerequisites for business success in the 21st century.
What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?
The term introduced in 1990 by Salovey and Mayer refers to the “accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living” (Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey, 1990, p. 772). In other words emotional intelligence is defined as the act of understanding, knowing, overcoming stress in the moment, responding to emotions and being aware of how your actions or words affect others. This sort of qualities would assist you to perceptive in tune with your emotions and developing is crucial for understanding, empathize and negotiate with other people.
When it comes to leadership, emotional intelligence can be described in five different attributes. They include effective communication, relationship management, empathy, self-management and self-awareness. Natural born leaders are thought to share these attributes whilst aspiring leaders should pay special attention towards the aforementioned attributes if they are to develop a sufficient level of emotional intelligence.
It is critical for leaders to tackle EQ since a leader who lacks emotional intelligence will have difficulty to gauge the needs of employees and the public in an effective manner. Furthermore, leaders who act without emotional intelligence would run into hassle in the long run. For example, some leaders tend to spontaneously react to different situations in life without filtering their emotions. Such a stance can create serious issues in relationships and negotiations which can prevent from closing deals. Therefore, it is extremely important for the great leaders to be self-aware about themselves. They need to have a clear understanding about their verbal as well as non-verbal communication and attitude. This approach could create a tremendous impact on their lives in the long run.
In order to understand the core of emotional intelligence that is required for effective leadership, the below elements are crucial.
1. Effective Communication
Effective communication can be considered as one of the key elements of emotional intelligence. If you are a leader, you should know how to appropriately communicate with whoever you deal with. Lack of effective communication can often lead to misunderstandings. Effective communication is not just focusing on your words. Recent studies have indicated that only 7% of effective communication comes from words. The remaining 93% comes from body language and tone. Misunderstandings can be considered as one of the major reasons behind issues that take place among individuals. For example, if you fail to communicate effectively at your workplace, you would have to experience confusion among employees along with bitterness and frustration. On the other hand, effective communication has the potential to strengthen the relationships at your workplace. When the employees have a clear understanding about their specific role within the company, they would stick to their job description. It could benefit the company at the end of the day.
2. Relationship Management
If you are distracted, it will most likely be a hard task to establish deep connections with other people. Almost all employees will have their own families as well as other obligations. However, it is important to maintain productive and healthy relationships in order to achieve higher emotional intelligence at the end of the day. In other words, leaders should have the ability to manage relationships properly to move a team forward in the desired direction.
3. Compassion and Empathy
Empathy can simply be defined as the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Then you will be able to get a better understanding on how others feel. You will even manage to predict how others react in different situations. When a leader has empathy, he/she would be able to open up the capacity to feel compassion. This can create the desire within leaders to help others. In other words, leaders with compassion and empathy will be able to relate to others in an effective manner.
Self-regulation can be considered as another important element that leaders should have in order to gain a high level of emotional intelligence. Self-regulation is simply defined as discipline. This involves redirecting or controlling all your disruptive emotions which in return will allow to adapt accordingly to different circumstances and guide your team in the right direction. As a result, you end up with positive results at the end of the day. Leaders do not afford to lose their coolness under any circumstance. Instead, they should remain calm and act completely natural in such instances. This will allow to communicate the company objectives to relevant team members in a clear manner. Concurrently, it is a strategy that will help to ease things and contribute to stay away from frustration.
Self-assessment is the ability to figure out your own values, weaknesses, strengths, emotions and drivers. It also rotates around the ability to understand how those values can create an impact on others around. Therefore, leaders with emotional intelligence should have this quality. Without the ability for self-reflection, we would not be able to figure out who we are. In addition, we would not have been able to realize where we fall short, what we are good at and why we make certain decisions in life. In order to achieve your maximum potential, you need to be confident about who you are. As a leader, you need to have a clear idea about your good and bad qualities. Then you will be able to use them accordingly in your day to day life, especially when dealing with other people and constantly having to make important decisions.
As it appears from the previous, it is important for a leader to have innate highly developed emotional intelligence. The aforementioned can directly contribute towards the emotional intelligence of a leader which in turn can contribute to eliminate mistrust among team members, and maximize productivity in the workplace. If you do not feel you naturally exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence, you should not despair since there are ways to improve your emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, emotional intelligence is so complex that it cannot be simply acquired through reading a book or attending a seminar. However, when put on a practical basis, within a rapidly demanding daily routine such as is the case in a fast-paced growing company, for a person to learn EI requires: team-based learning, practice, and accountability. The following infographic draws on the work of Gordon Tredgold and provides with some further practical tips on how to improve your emotional intelligence and become a better leader.
Conclusively, building on your emotional intelligence is considered as an excellent investment done towards the future of your business. It is incremental to strive for empathetic, thoughtful, responsive and reflexive leadership, be open to conversation and listening to others’ needs as well as be willing to present yourself as vulnerable and put yourself in others’ shoes. Such attitude will lead to a positive environment where employees will be inspired to bring out their best self.
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