Emotional Intelligence For Leaders

Leaders: are you in tune with how you are feeling? What about how those around you are feeling? If you’ve answered no, improving your emotional intelligence should be a priority.

The concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) was researched and described by psychologists Dr. John D. Mayer and Dr. Peter Salovey nearly thirty years ago. But it has only grown in relevance as the business world seeks to understand what paves the road to success.

Simply put, EQ relates to a person’s ability to recognise and manage their own and other’s emotions. EQ has been cited as having a positive effect on job performance. Some statistics demonstrate that excellent EQ is able to boost the performance of those with only moderate IQ’s by a significant amount. This seems to make intuitive sense, as being “book smart” is clearly not the only marker of relative success. Even the most intelligent of workers can fall flat for a promotion if unable to regulate their feelings and properly gauge the emotional environment of their workplace.

Some sources point to a strong link to personality, but Dr. Mayer cautions that this type of intelligence has nothing to do with traits such as optimism, charisma, or agreeableness.  

You might be wondering: if it isn’t tied to personality, can EQ be learned?

Good news!  Though Mayer and Salovey seem to disagree, there have been studies such as successful school programs to demonstrate that EQ can be enhanced.

Where should you start?

There are two main components to EQ: self and others. Read on for ways to encourage growth in both of these areas.  

1. Improving self-awareness: 

Awareness of self is crucial to EQ. In order to manage how you are feeling, you need to recognise when and what you are feeling.

  • Meditation is a proven technique to nurturing self-awareness. The practice of quieting the mind will help you spend more time observing thoughts than getting caught up in them.

  • Journaling is another great way to organise what you feel. Try jotting down how you feel after meetings and conversations to help identify where you can best regulate your emotions

2. Improving awareness of others: 

The second important step is getting in tune with how others feel. As emotional beings, we respond well when our feelings are acknowledged and we are treated as individuals.

  • Practice active listening in order to deeply engage in conversations and read between the lines. Focus on your audience so you don’t miss out on messages given by body language and facial expressions.

  • Put yourself in your employees’ shoes when they are under the pump. This will remind you to treat them as human beings rather than a means to an end.

It’s important to remember that growing emotional intelligence is a journey. Learn from one situation at a time. As a leader, the more in tune you are with emotions, the more you improve your team’s chance of success.