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Is emotional intelligence the secret to effective leadership?

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 09:15
Is emotional intelligence the secret to effective leadership?

Across every industry, emotional intelligence skills are in high demand. According to the last World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, 71% of employers already value emotional intelligence more than the traditional IQ test.

But what is emotional intelligence and why is it so important in the workplace? Also, how can we harness it to become better leaders and managers?

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be defined as an extensive set of skills that help us to better perceive, understand and manage our own emotions, as well as those of others'. This includes behaviours such as empathy, authenticity, reasoning or influence. When we develop these skills, we can smartly respond to our emotions and use them to our advantage.

Without doubt, our relationships with colleagues in the workplace would be far easier to manage if we were all robots. But as human beings, we respond to the world around us in surprising and unique ways. Our emotions play a significant factor in the way that we react to events, how we communicate with colleagues, and how we make our daily decisions.

How to measure emotional intelligence

Like you can evaluate human intelligence thanks to the intellectual quotient (IQ), you can also measure emotional intelligence (EQ). There are a variety of emotional intelligence tests that have been developed over the past two decades, but Genos International provides one of the leading measures.

The Genos Emotional Intelligence Model comprises a set of emotionally intelligent workplace behaviour competencies that are measured across:

  • Emotional Self-Awareness - Being aware of the way you feel and the impact your feelings can have on decisions, behaviour and performance. 
  • Emotional Awareness of Others - Perceiving, understanding and acknowledging the way others feel. This skill helps us identify the things that make people feel valued, listened to, cared for, consulted, and understood.
  • Authenticity - Openly and effectively expressing ourselves, honouring commitments and encouraging this behaviour in others.
  • Emotional Reasoning - Considering your own and others’ feelings when making decisions, combining the information in feelings with facts and technical information, and communicating this decision-making process to others.
  • Emotional Self-Management - Managing our mood and emotions, time and behaviour, and continuously improving ourselves.
  • Positive Influence - Positively influencing the way others feel through problem-solving, feedback, recognising and supporting others work.

The results of the Genos EI assessment provide a measure of an individual’s emotional intelligence as a set of skills and abilities that can be developed and harnessed over time. And there is plenty of evidence that leaders with high emotional intelligence are far more effective in their roles.

A recent study of two million people by Gallup found that employees who had managers with high emotional intelligence were four times less likely to leave, and 70% of an employee’s perception of organisational culture results from their manager’s emotional intelligence levels. These statistics support the widely held belief that people don’t leave organisations - they leave managers.

How to improve emotional intelligence in the workplace

With this in mind, it appears crucial for leaders to work on improving and nurturing their emotional intelligence. Mastering emotional intelligence takes time, effort, and training. However, there are a few steps that every leader can take if they wish to start improving their emotional intelligence at work, such as to:

  • Document your emotions - Take some time to write down how you feel in difficult and stressful situations. Awareness is half the battle.
  • Harness the positives - Think about how much more effectively you were able to complete a task or communicate with a colleague when you were feeling positive.
  • Ask for feedback - The way you perceive your actions isn’t always the same as how other people do. This is where 360 degrees feedback surveys can provide great insights into how you affect other people with your actions.
  • Learn to check yourself - 70% of everything we do each day is a habit. Over time, you can develop the habit of taking a step back when you’re feeling negative emotions, and not allowing them to control your actions.
  • Learn to listen - A crucial part of emotional intelligence is your ability to influence other people’s emotions. Nothing makes someone feel more valued and engaged than simply having the chance to share their own thoughts and feelings.
  • Be conscious of how you react in the moment -  As a leader, your team are always watching and judging you on your every move. They pick up subtle cues from your body language and use this to decide how you feel about them and their ideas.

By finding the time each day to focus on the above techniques, you’ll be making your first steps to becoming a more effective and successful leader. Although there are no shortcuts towards becoming an emotionally intelligent leader, the benefits to your career, as well as your personal life, will be nothing short of revelatory.

If you’d like to start developing your emotional intelligence skills today, AIM’s Leading with Emotional Intelligence 2-day short course can help you to learn how to:

  • improve your management of emotions
  • enhance your relationships within and outside of the workplace
  • facilitate difficult conversations with confidence
  • feel less stressed and be better equipped to manage high work demands and stress
  • create a positive work environment for others

Get in touch with us today to find out how you and your leadership teams can start developing into world-leading organisations by honing your emotional intelligence skills.