Home » The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership
If you’ve ever felt embarrassed after losing your cool or felt close to tears over a frustrating work issue, enhancing your emotional intelligence could be an urgent matter.
Or maybe you fall prey to a more common flaw: making excuses for poor emotional intelligence. It’s common for people with less than perfect emotional intelligence to claim that their volatile nature goes hand in hand with their passion, but it’s not an excuse. With time and practice, emotional intelligence will come.
Developing strong emotional intelligence is a powerful way to boost your career and strengthen your working relations. It’s integral for any manager, supervisor, teacher, or leader. And improving emotional intelligence should be a life-long task.
See how you measure up by evaluating yourself with the Bar-On Model of Emotional Intelligence below and learn more about how this skill-set can enhance your leadership and make it more effective.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (or EQ/EI) is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage your emotions and to recognise, understand and influence other people’s emotions.
There are three major accepted models of emotional intelligence. The Bar-On model (the one that helps us to measure EI), the Goleman model (the one that’s most related to business), and the Mayer-Salovey model (the original one). They’re all useful and it’s not a bad idea to use the strengths of each model to improve your EI for leadership and management.
Four skill-sets relate to emotional intelligence:
- Perception – being alert to the emotions of yourself and others.
- Understanding – recognising how emotions can change someone and their behaviour over time.
- Facilitation – understanding how to use emotions to enhance thinking.
- Management – combining logic with emotions to make effective decisions.
Before you can improve your overall emotional intelligence, you need to figure out how you’re currently performing. Use the questions below and rate your skills out of ten for each question. Then, review your scores in a months’ time after practising emotional recognition, reflection, and control.
The Bar-On Model of Emotional Intelligence
This model is the best for assessing where your current skill level is at.
- Self-actualisation – do you have a purpose, enjoy what you do, and accept your limits?
- Empathy – are you able to appreciate why someone might feel how they do?
- Social responsibility – are you constructive and cooperative in groups?
- Interpersonal relationship – can you establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships?
- Stress tolerance – how is your ability to withstand adverse events, stress, and strong emotions?
- Impulse control – how well are you able to resist or delay an impulse or temptation?
- Reality testing – can you assess what you feel and relate it to the external situation?
- Problem-solving – do you identify personal and social issues and seek a solution?
- Flexibility – can you adjust your thoughts and feelings to changeable situations?
- Optimism – can you maintain a positive attitude?
- Happiness – can you maintain an appreciation for all you have?
- Assertiveness – are you able to constructively put forward your feelings, beliefs, and thoughts?
- Independence – can you control your thinking and actions to be free of emotional dependency?
- Emotional self-awareness – are you able to recognise and understand your emotions?
- Self-regard – do you understand, accept, and respect yourself?
Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Your Leadership
How smart you are emotionally is supposed to account for around 58% of your performance at work. And, apparently, 90% of top performers are switched on emotionally.
Clearly, it’s an important asset.
Leaders with strong emotional intelligence can:
- Perceive when their team members are upset.
- Sense when the feelings of a team member could jeopardise working relationships.
- Intervene when problems arise.
- Control their own emotions to gain the trust of employees.
- Understand the political and social climate of the organisation they work in.
How to Enhance Emotional Intelligence
Your emotional control and understanding will never be perfect. Sometimes frustration and anger come unexpectedly, and they’re hard to accept and control. Your one guarantee is that with practice, you will improve.
Observe your emotions
To improve your emotional intelligence, reflect on your emotions as they happen.
When you become aware of an emotion like anger or frustration, instead of reacting, pause and just observe what’s happening.
Then accept it. However, accepting that anger happens is not an excuse to continue behaving in a destructive way.
Are your emotions reasonable?
Consider if it’s rational to feel how you do. Are your internal feelings proportionate to the external situation?
If not, consider how you want to behave and figure out how to make it happen, for example, if a meeting is becoming emotion-fuelled and unproductive, calmly call it to a close and reschedule it.
Get outside opinions
After an emotion-fuelled event, recall the event and observe yourself in the interaction.
Think about what you did well and what went badly and also think about how your behaviour affects others. Consider how others might view the situation.
Once you’ve thought about this, ask someone you trust and respect for their perspective. Keep an open mind (even if your reaction is criticised) and try to understand and appreciate how the other person saw the situation.
After you’ve taken these steps, you can begin to reflect on how you should and could act, and to predict how your behaviour will influence others.
Over time, observing and accepting your emotions will become an automatic process. When that improves, it’ll make it easier for you to bring logic into how you use emotions to influence, encourage, and support others at work.
What to Read Next:
- Effective Leadership Quiz
- Managing Conflict in the Workplace: Guide for Line Managers
- Effective Leadership Online Training
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Hannah is The Hub’s specialist on social issues and HR. She has a master’s degree in Contemporary Literatures and writes about safeguarding issues and business. When she’s not writing, she practises yoga and peruses bookshops.