The 4 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 08:56

Are you a leader who likes to stay ahead of the latest industry trends and hype?

Then you’ve probably caught on that EQ is the new IQ – and with research showing that emotional intelligence is just as important as technical skills, you can rest assured that the industry fascination with emotional intelligence isn’t going out of style anytime soon.

In fact, emotionally intelligent leaders are more in demand than ever before.

Why? Because emotionally intelligent leaders are better people managers, and in business, people are everything. Being able to understand, empathise and connect with your staff, clients, audiences and stakeholders is more than just a useful skill – it’s an industry superpower that can set you apart.

Studies carried out by Genos International, an organisation that specialises in emotional intelligence, demonstrate that it can enhance employee engagement, improve staff retention and increase sales.

According to Dr Ben Palmer FAIM (pictured), the CEO of Genos and one of Australia’s most renowned academics on the topic, emotional intelligence is strongly connected to high performance in the workplace, with research showing that self-awareness, authenticity, resilience and positive influence play a key role in effective leadership.

In an interview with AIM, Ben discussed emotional intelligence and its relationship to leadership. But most importantly, he provided a basic outline of the four key habits of emotionally intelligent leaders.

1. Emotionally intelligent leaders reflect on the way they feel

According to Ben, these leaders think about how their own feelings and emotions influence their decisions, behaviour and performance. This proactive form of self-awareness ensures you are regularly tuning into your feelings and monitoring or regulating the impact of your emotions.

2. Emotionally intelligent leaders take the time to demonstrate empathy to their people

Empathetic leaders are able to understand how other people feel and will alter the way they communicate and act towards others based on this understanding. According to Ben, they question, listen, acknowledge and provide praise, making people feel valued through their actions.

3. Emotionally intelligent leaders effectively express how they feel

Ben explains that when leaders are appropriately vulnerable, they create trust, understanding and connections with people, by letting their guard down and talking genuinely about how they feel. Naturally, this skill is only possible by first being able to tune into and reflect on your own feelings.

4. Emotionally intelligent leaders proactively manage and regulate their emotions

Ben suggests this can be accomplished through a variety of simple methods, including eating well, sleeping well and exercising – all of which contribute significantly to maintaining your emotional health and wellbeing. However, he also emphasises the need to proactively do things to positively influence the emotions of your team. For example, this may involve taking the time to remove barriers and challenges that are negatively impacting the emotions of your staff and colleagues.

Dr Ben Palmer FAIM is the CEO of Genos, a company he formed in August 2002 together with Swinburne University where he completed a PhD in Psychology. Since forming the company, Ben and his team have grown Genos to be recognised as one of the BRW’s Fastest 100 Growing Australian Businesses. He is a widely recognised academic expert on emotional intelligence and also a lecturer at the Sydney Graduate School of Management.