Do you have emotional intelligence? It's crucial for great leadership
What impact does emotional intelligence have on leadership? It can take an executive from good to great!
What’s your vision of the ideal executive? Is it someone that loses his temper and yells at his team? Or someone who hangs over her team’s shoulders, micromanaging each aspect of their jobs? Perhaps a leader who ignores input from his team and just pushes through his own ideas? Or maybe that person who is difficult to approach for guidance?
Probably not. When leaders within an organization behave this way, they might get the job done but they cause problems, too. This leader likely has a high team turnover, low staff morale, and a lack of innovative ideas. The leaders I described above are quite different from leaders who work well with their teams. So what separates these two leadership styles?
Psychology Today describes emotional intelligence (also called both EI and EQ) this way:
1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
Edward M. D’Alba, President and CEO, Urban Engineers, Inc concurs, "At Urban we foster a culture of respect for the time of others – saying less is often more. We focus on understanding the pain and needs of our clients, striving to bring value with all that we say and do. Repeat work, over many decades, from our most respected clients is testament that our actions are well received. So, let’s break those down and see how they add up to better leadership.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence routinely check their behavior. They also pay special attention to their reactions and how they respond to others. They have a deep connection to themselves and those around them. A leader with self-awareness understands her personal shortcomings. She develops tools to prevent those shortcomings from undermining her interactions with her team and is open to constructive feedback.
Being a leader is incredibly stressful and emotional intelligence means responding instead of reacting. Creating solutions instead of problems. This might mean taking a walk instead of yelling at his staff, or listening instead of berating a team member. A leader who manages his emotions well will know how to cope with the daily frustrations of being in charge. Even better? He’ll know how to make better decisions in the heat of the moment.
Listening Skills & Empathy
Many people begin thinking of a response before someone stops speaking to them. This can lead to a leader missing out on great ideas and input from her team and sends the message that what I think is more important than what you think. A leader with high emotional intelligence will slow down, listen closely, and ask good questions – while also paying attention to verbiage and body language. This leader will know her team better, be able to put herself in their shoes, and then offer them the support they need to work effectively. Not only will this make team members feel more valued, it also allows the leader to not take her team’s behavior personally.
Motivation & Communication
A leader with emotional intelligence works hard to complete goals, stay on task, and maintain high personal standards. Additionally, emotional intelligence also means the ability to communicate effectively. If a leader provides grounded direction, she will also inspire and motivate her team. Best of all, she will increase her team’s loyalty while inspiring them to meet their own high standards.
A great leader with the above characteristics will be able to walk into a meeting with his team and immediately assess the emotions and attitudes of everyone there. He’ll be able to quickly process this information, and this will help him expect the reactions from his team – while providing fast conflict resolution. He will be able to hear what isn’t being said out loud – a critical skill needed when managing a team.
Today’s leaders need to pay attention and look outside of themselves. Take the time to work on self-awareness, moderate your emotions, communicate effectively, and practice empathy. You might even consider taking an emotional intelligence self-assessment test to see what areas you might need to work on. Do you lead with emotional intelligence? If not, maybe it’s time you get in touch with your emotions.
This piece was originally published in The Philadelphia Business Journal.*
Kelly A. Meerbott, principal of You: Loud & Clear, Inc., provides leadership coaching focused on helping successful senior leaders achieve positive, long-term change in behavior for themselves, their teams, and their organizations. These changes often result in more profitability, increased productivity and improved focus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.youloudandclear.com.