The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Roles
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[fa icon="calendar"] May 8, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Michelle Nystrom

Michelle Nystrom

How Important Is Emotional Intelligence In Leadership Roles?

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.-1Leadership throughout your company is critical to the success of your employees. If your employees are not successful, then odds are your company won’t be either. Unfortunately, poor leadership isn’t uncommon. As a result of poor leadership, many employees don’t understand what their responsibilities are, don’t feel like they play an important role in the company’s growth, do not understand their role in the company, become stressed out, or become unmotivated and unproductive. Not only can this lead to poor and inefficient work, but it can also lead to high employee turnover.

For a manager or CEO to be a good leader, they must have more than just professional skills and knowledge. For example, one of the most critical requirements of a good leader is emotional intelligence.


What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and identify your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. You would be surprised at how many people not only lack empathy when it comes to the emotions of others but have a difficult time being aware of what they themselves are feeling. Emotional intelligence is incredibly important when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, and this is especially true when it comes to individuals who are in leadership positions.

Of course, emotional intelligence is a somewhat broad term with a vague definition. Who exactly would admit that they didn’t have emotional intelligence? To help you get a better understanding of what exactly emotional intelligence is, we’ve outlined  some of the competencies that define it:

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions and how they are impacting the people around you. It’s also the ability to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. A lack of self-awareness makes it difficult to understand your own faults, which in turn can make it difficult to improve relationships. A manager without self-awareness may only be able to find faults in their team and not how they are managing their team. Such lack of self-awareness can be very problematic since it can cause stress and lead to a lack of motivation throughout the team.

Self-Management

Whereas self-awareness is about the ability to recognize your own emotions, self-management is the ability to manage those emotions. Self-management is a must for leaders since they have to be able to hold it together during stressful situations. They must be able to stay positive even during major setbacks. Leaders without the ability to manage their emotions will be more impulsive. Their emotional responses will affect their team as well, especially if those responses are negative. A leader who is worried, stressed out and who isn’t capable of managing those feelings will make their team worried and stressed out as well, resulting in poor performance.

Motivation

Motivation is important in every facet of work. When someone isn’t properly motivated, they won’t be very productive. An unmotivated worker will often do the bare minimum that’s required of them. A lack of motivation can result in poor productivity and poor performance. A leader must not only be able to motivate their team, they must be able to motivate themselves as well. The ability to self-motivate requires the ability to set goals and to be optimistic even in the face of a challenging situation.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognize how somebody else is feeling and why they might be feeling that way. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Without empathy, a leader will have trouble recognizing if something is wrong with how their team is feeling, and won’t understand why their performance or productivity is down.

The inability to recognize your team’s feelings can strain the relationship you have with them and stifle their motivation. By having empathy, you’ll be able to show them that you care, which will help strengthen your relationship with your team. You’ll also be able to provide much better and more constructive feedback instead of simply criticizing the performance of certain people.

Social Skills

Last but not least, a leader must have social skills. How can they lead if they are unable to communicate effectively? A good communicator is one that can deliver clear instructions and feedback and can pay attention to their team’s thoughts and feelings. Social skills are also needed to successfully motivate your team and to help them resolve conflicts.


Why Must Leaders Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Certain emotional competencies are needed for a leader to drive the success of their team. A lack of emotional intelligence can hurt the team’s performance in a number of ways. Employees will look to their managers for emotional leadership to guide their work. If their leaders don’t set a good example or lack the emotional competencies that define emotional intelligence, it will ultimately affect the performance and effort of your workers. While it’s easy to explain how lacking emotional intelligence can result in poor results, it’s also important to highlight how a leader with emotional intelligence can benefit your company.

They Adapt Easily to Changing Circumstances

A leader needs to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. This means that they are adept at thinking on their feet. If they don’t have the ability to manage their emotions, it will be difficult for them to calmly assess and respond to any challenges that they face. A leader must also be able to clearly communicate any challenges to their team and be capable of providing instructions on what they must do. This requires optimism and confidence, both of which can be limited by the inability to manage one’s emotions.

They Inspire and Motivate

Employees can lose motivation if they are stressed out, overworked, confused, worried, or bored. A good leader needs to be able to identify whether their team’s emotional state is affecting their work and to effectively address those feelings. The inability to do so will make it difficult for leaders to inspire and motivate their team.

They Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration helps to create synergy among teams, thereby improving the work experience. This can help to reduce potentially negative feelings (such as stress) and help increase optimism and motivation. A good leader should be able to encourage collaboration with a clear sense of optimism and purpose.

They Build Relationships

A leader is not just a “boss.” Employees shouldn’t be scared of their managers, nor should they have feelings of disrespect towards them. A good manager is one that is able to build strong relationships with their employees. After all, for someone to be able to lead, they must be respected and liked. An employee is more willing to work hard for someone that inspires them or that makes them feel like a valued member of the team and of the company.


How Do You Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence?

While certain emotional competencies, such as empathy, might be more inherent in some individuals than others, there are ways in which you can enhance your emotional intelligence. Leaders who work on improving their emotional intelligence are more likely to experience better results from the teams that they oversee. Remember that emotional intelligence is something that every person in a leadership role throughout your organization can benefit from, from managers with smaller teams up to the CEO. Here are a few ways that anyone can enhance their emotional intelligence:

Read Yourself Better

Being able to read yourself better will help to improve self-awareness. Learning how to recognize your feelings better and to self reflect will make it easier to identify your strengths and weaknesses. In turn, you’ll be able to practice humility, which can help improve the respect that your team has for you. It will also make it easier for you to read certain situations with your team more effectively. A bad leader is one that always blames their team for every problem and that is incapable of taking responsibility for anything that happens.

Write Down Your Thoughts & Reflect

One of the most effective ways to improve your self-awareness is by writing down your thoughts. People who aren’t self-aware often don’t reflect on their thoughts and feelings. By writing them down, it forces you to recognize what you're feeling or thinking and to assess the situation with a clearer mind, even if you need to come back to what you’ve written down a little later. You can improve your ability to recognize and reflect on your thoughts and feelings by keeping a journal.

Be Still And Master Self Control

Because people who lack self-management are often impulsive, they are unable to assess a situation properly. For example, if something goes wrong, a manager with little self-control might immediately lash out at their team without spending some time actually assessing the problem and its source. Consider using these ways to begin working on your self-control so that you can improve self-management:

Stand Your Ground

Knowing what your principles are and sticking to them makes it a lot easier to manage your feelings. It helps prevent moments of doubt from clouding your judgment, especially if you have to make moral decisions.

Be Accountable For Your Actions

If you hold your team accountable for the work they do, then you should hold yourself accountable as well. As a leader, you need to take responsibility for the decisions you make and the actions you take. Then if you make the wrong decision or you make a mistake, you need to own up to it.

Keep Yourself Engaged

To keep your team engaged, you need to remain engaged as well. They look to you to set an example. If you’re capable of motivating yourself, you’ll find it a lot easier to motivate your team. As a result, you will be able to uphold high standards and to achieve your goals regularly. Use these two tips to help keep yourself engaged to strengthen your motivation competency:

Re-evaluate Your Reasons

It helps to remember why you pursued a leadership position in the first place. Re-evaluating your reasons for becoming a leader can help to prevent you from feeling jaded or content with your position. Commitment to your purpose will keep you engaged with the job and your team.

Be Optimistic

Optimism is important. While you’ll want to remain practical (blind optimism won’t do anyone any good), being optimistic in the face of challenging situations can help prevent you from feeling hopeless. Feeling hopeless or pessimistic will cause you to disengage and will make it difficult for your team to remain engaged as well.

Create an Affinity With Your Team

Building a good relationship with your team is important if you want to inspire and motivate them. To provide constructive feedback and to successfully challenge employees that are difficult, don’t limit yourself to only your own perspective. Be empathetic. We’ll offer you  a couple of ways below that you can become more empathetic:

Wear Their Shoes

To build a successful relationship with your team, it helps to view different situations from different points of view. Consider the perspective of your team and of each member, especially when it comes to the milestones and goals you establish, the processes you implement, and the feedback you provide. You should always put yourself in their shoes before criticizing something they’ve done.

Be Adept at Reading Body Language

Just because someone isn’t saying how they feel out loud doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling a certain way. To effectively communicate with your team and to understand how they’re feeling, learn to read their body language. Begin paying attention to how they move and what posture they take when speaking with them. This will make it easier to determine what kind of response or feedback will be most effective for each individual.

Cultivate Your Inner Extrovert

No rule says introverts can’t be leaders; however, you have to have social skills to be able to encourage and motivate your team and to be able to incite excitement and support. To be capable of doing these things, you will need to work on your inner extrovert, even if you are more introverted as a person. The more extroverted you are with your team, the easier it will be to handle change, manage conflicts, and generate motivation.

Give Praise and Recognize Their Efforts

You’ll find that it’s much easier to provide feedback and address issues and conflicts if you also regularly provide praise and recognize the efforts of your team. This ensures that you’re not just communicating with them when something is wrong, which can be a dispiriting experience. By providing credit where credit is due, you inspire loyalty. Then they’ll have an easier time taking feedback as well.


Leadership Roles Require The Complete Package

Your company’s leadership, from the top down, is critical to the success of your business. While it’s certainly important that those in leadership roles have the required technical skills and intelligence to do their jobs properly, they must also have the emotional intelligence needed to lead the teams that they are responsible for.

Without the proper emotional intelligence, it will be a challenge to inspire, motivate, guide, and help employees to succeed. Poor leadership can have a significant impact on the productivity and performance of your employees. It’s crucial that you fill leadership positions with people that have the competencies that define emotional intelligence, and that you take steps to help enhance those competencies.

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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice.  Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.

Topics: Emotional Intelligence