What makes a great leader? It is a question we hear a lot as leadership coaches. If you ask a “man on the street” they might bring up words such as charisma, purpose and drive as important leadership attributes. However, there is one quality that will help leaders far more than any of these skills—namely, emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is an ability to understand and manage emotions of ourselves and those around us. Having this skill allows an individual to more effectively manage relationships and influence others in a positive way. It is an ideal skill for a leader who wants to embrace a coaching culture within their organization as it can help influence employee satisfaction, productivity, collaboration and efficiency. Here are five reasons a leader should work to develop emotional intelligence.
- Recognize emotions – Self-awareness is an important skill for leaders. It gives them the tools they need to recognize emotion as they happen and gain a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as leaders. Emotional intelligence also gives leaders the tools they need to understand emotions as they come up in different situations, and address problems efficiently and effectively to avoid future issues.
- Managing emotions – While recognizing emotions gives leaders the skills to understand their own emotions in various situations, it is crucial to know how to effectively manage these emotions. Leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence are able to stay in control during difficult situations and do not make hasty decisions. They also do not let emotion get the best of their behavior. Having this type of control allows leaders earn respect within their leadership position.
- Managing Communication – If you are unable to effectively communicate your thoughts and opinions, you lack effectiveness as a leader. The skill of emotional intelligence gives leaders the tools to clearly convey thoughts and directions in a way that inspires and motivates team members, while providing clear and helpful direction.
- Social Understanding – Having a high degree of emotional intelligence allows leaders to tune into what is happening within their organization. They are able to empathize with employees and can to cue into the emotions of their team members so they can give constructive feedback. This skill allows a leader to develop a rapport with their team and earns them respect and trust.
- Resolving disagreements – Conflicts within teams has the power to derail even the most brilliant of plans. It can disrupt efficiency and productivity and destroy morale. Understanding how to effectively diffuse conflicts while making all team members feel valued and heard is crucial to creating a happy and harmonious workplace.
If you are interested in raising your EQ here are some simple ways to start
Ask others for perspective
We see ourselves differently than others see us. Ask a friend or close colleague how you react when they’re emotional. The answers will help you achieve a more accurate view of yourself.
- Reflect on your own emotions – For example, think about how you typically respond when you read an email that makes you angry. By identifying your own emotions and reactions, you become more mindful and can start to build control.
- Be observant – Armed with this newly acquired knowledge, you can be more observant of your current emotions. Self-reflection and thinking about what others have shared will help you to be more in tune with what you’re feeling.
- The pause – “The pause” is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before we act or speak — an ability that’s hindered by factors like added stress. Practice pausing, before responding to an upsetting email or before texting someone back.
- Focus on feelings, not events – Showing empathy means trying our best to see a situation through another person’s eyes. We may not understand why they feel uncomfortable, angry, or hurt. But we can all relate to those feelings, and that helps us relate to the person.
- Don’t take offense – Criticism is never easy to take: But when you receive it, there are two choices: You can let emotion get the best of you, or you can learn from it. Don’t let emotion close your mind to negative feedback. Use it to make you better.
- Practice, practice, practice – Like any other skill or ability, practice helps. Of course, it’s impossible to have perfect control over your emotions. But keep practicing these steps and you’ll start to harness the power of emotions — and use them to work for you, instead of against you.
At ALCN our goal is to give leaders the skills they need to effectively develop their coaching skills and emotional intelligence within their organizations. We have worked hard to design our internal coaching programs to help organizations and leaders create a coaching culture within their teams and develop a high degree of emotional intelligence. Contact us for more information.