- Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Learning How to Be More Aware
- What Is Emotional Intelligence?
- 1. Self-awareness
- 2. Self-regulation
- 3. Motivation
- 4. Empathy
- 5. Social Skills
- Emotional Intelligence
- Improving Your EQ
- Being Aware of Your Emotions
- Understanding How Others Feel and Why
- Managing Emotional Reactions
- Choosing Your Mood
- EQ: Under Construction
- Emotional Intelligence & Kindness: Our Responses Make a Difference
- What is Emotional Intelligence?
- Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
- The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence
- How do you improve emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Learning How to Be More Aware
Does your emotional intelligence lift your team to new heights?
When you think of a «perfect leader,» what comes to mind?
You might picture someone who never lets his temper get control, no matter what problems he's facing. Or you might think of someone who has the complete trust of her staff, listens to her team, is easy to talk to, and always makes careful, informed decisions.
These are qualities of someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence.
In this article, we'll look at why emotional intelligence is so important for leaders – and how you, as a leader, can improve yours.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence or EI is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they're feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.
For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more ly to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he's under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to it:
- Social skills.
The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence. So, let's look at each element in more detail and examine how you can grow as a leader.
If you're self-aware, you always know how you feel, and you know how your emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you're in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, and it means behaving with humility.
So, what can you do to improve your self-awareness?
- Keep a journal – Journals help you improve your self-awareness. If you spend just a few minutes each day writing down your thoughts, this can move you to a higher degree of self-awareness.
- Slow down – When you experience anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why. Remember, no matter what the situation, you can always choose how you react to it. (Our article on Managing Your Emotions at Work will help you understand what your emotions are telling you.)
Leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control.
This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader's flexibility and commitment to personal accountability.
So, how can you improve your ability to self-regulate?
- Know your values – Do you have a clear idea of where you absolutely will not compromise? Do you know what values are most important to you? Spend some time examining your «code of ethics.» If you know what's most important to you, then you probably won't have to think twice when you face a moral or ethical decision – you'll make the right choice.
- Hold yourself accountable – If you tend to blame others when something goes wrong, stop. Make a commitment to admit to your mistakes and to face the consequences, whatever they are. You'll probably sleep better at night, and you'll quickly earn the respect of those around you.
- Practice being calm – The next time you're in a challenging situation, be very aware of how you act. Do you relieve your stress by shouting at someone else? Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself. Also, try to write down all of the negative things you want to say, and then rip it up and throw it away. Expressing these emotions on paper (and not showing them to anyone!) is better than speaking them aloud to your team. What's more, this helps you challenge your reactions to ensure that they're fair!
Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.
How can you improve your motivation?
- Re-examine why you're doing your job – It's easy to forget what you really love about your career. So, take some time to remember why you wanted this job. If you're unhappy in your role and you're struggling to remember why you wanted it, try the Five Whys technique to find the root of the problem. Starting at the root often helps you look at your situation in a new way.And make sure that your goal statements are fresh and energizing. For more on this, see our article on Goal Setting.
- Know where you stand – Determine how motivated you are to lead. Our Leadership Motivation Assessment can help you see clearly how motivated you are in your leadership role. If you need to increase your motivation to lead, it directs you to resources that can help.
- Be hopeful and find something good – Motivated leaders are usually optimistic, no matter what problems they face. Adopting this mindset might take practice, but it's well worth the effort.Every time you face a challenge, or even a failure, try to find at least one good thing about the situation. It might be something small, a new contact, or something with long-term effects, an important lesson learned. But there's almost always something positive, if you look for it.
For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it.
If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, then show them you care by being empathic.
How can you improve your empathy?
- Put yourself in someone else's position – It's easy to support your own point of view. After all, it's yours! But take the time to look at situations from other people's perspectives. See our article on Perceptual Positions for a useful technique for doing this.
- Pay attention to body language – Perhaps when you listen to someone, you cross your arms, move your feet back and forth, or bite your lip. This body language tells others how you really feel about a situation, and the message you're giving isn't positive! Learning to read body language can be a real asset in a leadership role, because you'll be better able to determine how someone truly feels. This gives you the opportunity to respond appropriately.
- Respond to feelings – You ask your assistant to work late – again. And although he agrees, you can hear the disappointment in his voice. So, respond by addressing his feelings. Tell him you appreciate how willing he is to work extra hours, and that you're just as frustrated about working late. If possible, figure out a way for future late nights to be less of an issue (for example, give him Monday mornings off).
5. Social Skills
Leaders who do well in the social skills element of emotional intelligence are great communicators. They're just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they're expert at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project.
Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. They're rarely satisfied with leaving things as they are, but they don't sit back and make everyone else do the work: they set an example with their own behavior.
So, how can you build social skills?
- Learn conflict resolution – Leaders must know how to resolve conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors. Learning conflict resolution skills is vital if you want to succeed.
- Improve your communication skills – How well do you communicate? Our communication quiz will help you answer this question, and it will give useful feedback on what you can do to improve.
- Learn how to praise others – As a leader, you can inspire the loyalty of your team simply by giving praise when it's earned. Learning how to praise others is a fine art, but well worth the effort.
To be effective, leaders must have a solid understanding of how their emotions and actions affect the people around them. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be.
Take the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Working on these areas will help you excel in the future!
You may have heard people mention «IQ» when talking about intellect and how smart someone is. (For example, «My brother doesn't need to study as much as I do because he has a really high IQ.») IQ stands for «intellectual quotient.» It can help predict how well someone may do academically.
IQ is just one measure of our abilities, though. There are many other kinds of intelligence in addition to intellect. For example, spatial intelligence is the ability to think in 3D. Musical intelligence is the ability to recognize rhythm, cadence, and tone. Athletic, artistic, and mechanical abilities are other types of intelligence.
One important type of intelligence is emotional intelligence.
Improving Your EQ
Emotional intelligence is a combination of several different skills:
Being Aware of Your Emotions
Most people feel many different emotions throughout the day. Some feelings ( surprise) last just a few seconds. Others may stay longer, creating a mood happiness or sadness. Being able to notice and accurately label these everyday feelings is the most basic of all the EQ skills.
Being aware of emotions — simply noticing them as we feel them — helps us manage our own emotions. It also helps us understand how other people feel.
But some people might go through the entire day without really noticing their emotions. Practice recognizing emotions as you feel them.
Label them in your mind (for example, by saying to yourself «I feel grateful,» «I feel frustrated,» etc.). Make it a daily habit to be aware of your emotions.
Understanding How Others Feel and Why
People are naturally designed to try to understand others. Part of EQ is being able to imagine how other people might feel in certain situations. It is also about understanding why they feel the way they do.
Being able to imagine what emotions a person is ly to be feeling (even when you don't actually know) is called empathy. Empathy helps us care about others and build good friendships and relationships. It guides us on what to say and how to behave around someone who is feeling strong emotions.
Managing Emotional Reactions
We all get angry. We all have disappointments. Often it's important to express how you feel. But managing your reaction means knowing when, where, and how to express yourself.
When you understand your emotions and know how to manage them, you can use self-control to hold a reaction if now is not the right time or place to express it. Someone who has good EQ knows it can damage relationships to react to emotions in a way that's disrespectful, too intense, too impulsive, or harmful.
Choosing Your Mood
Part of managing emotions is choosing our moods. Moods are emotional states that last a bit. We have the power to decide what mood is right for a situation, and then to get into that mood. Choosing the right mood can help someone get motivated, concentrate on a task, or try again instead of giving up.
People with good EQ know that moods aren't just things that happen to us. We can control them by knowing which mood is best for a particular situation and how to get into that mood.
EQ: Under Construction
Emotional intelligence is something that develops as we get older. If it didn't, all adults would act little kids, expressing their emotions physically through stomping, crying, hitting, yelling, and losing control!
Some of the skills that make up emotional intelligence develop earlier. They may seem easier: For example, recognizing emotions seems easy once we know what to pay attention to.
But the EQ skill of managing emotional reactions and choosing a mood might seem harder to master. That's because the part of the brain that's responsible for self-management continues to mature beyond our teen years.
But practice helps those brain pathways develop.
We can all work to build even stronger emotional intelligence skills just by recognizing what we feel, understanding how we got there, understanding how others feel and why, and putting our emotions into heartfelt words when we need to.
Emotional Intelligence & Kindness: Our Responses Make a Difference
“What really matters for success, character, happiness, and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills — your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” — Daniel Goleman
What is Emotional Intelligence?
How we respond to our challenges, express our emotions, and interact with others is more than a gut reaction. Our responses are key skills we can use to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
These skills are often called “emotional intelligence” or «EI.
» Daniel Goleman, psychologist and best-selling author, defines EI as the ability to recognize and manage our own emotions as well as the ability to identify, understand, and influence the feelings of others.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
Having a high level of emotional intelligence allows you to empathize with others, communicate effectively, and be both self and socially aware. How we respond to ourselves and others impacts our home and work environments.
Living in this world means interacting with many different types of people, as well as constant change and surprises. Being emotionally intelligent is key to how you respond to what life gives us.
It’s also a key component of compassion and understanding the deeper reasons behind other people's actions.
EI is especially important when you are dealing with stressful situations conflict, change, and obstacles. During these times, it's critical to remember to practice kindness, and being in touch with our emotions can help us do just that.
The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence
Goleman laid out five components that are critical for emotional intelligence.
- Self-Awareness. The ability to recognize what you’re feeling and also understanding how your emotions and actions can affect others.
- Self-Regulation. Being able to regulate and manage the emotions you’re feeling while waiting for the appropriate time and avenue in how to express them.
- Motivation. Emotionally intelligent people are motivated by things beyond money, fame, or success. They’re also able to understand and desire the need to fulfill their own inner needs and goals.
- Empathy. Having a high EQ means being able to understand what others may be feeling and are going through and responding kindly and thoughtfully.
- Social Skills. Social skills are vital to emotional intelligence. When you’re aware of how you’re feeling, what others are feeling, and able to communicate effectively, you’re ready to interact well with others.
Understanding and putting these components into action thoughtfully and intentionally can make a drastic difference in not just your life, but those around you. It will help you become more empathetic towards other people and more aware of your social surroundings.
How do you improve emotional intelligence?
There's excellent news. The way we respond to ourselves and others can be improved. All of us can work toward being more confident, positive, and kind. Here are a few ways:
- Pay attention to yourself. Notice how people respond when you speak. Notice how you react when others speak. Do you rush to judgment? Does your facial express or body language say one thing while your words (or lack of words) express something different? Easy improvements can be made simply by noticing our go-to negative words, expressions, and feelings and making adjustments.
- Use positive language. What we say impacts our thoughts and actions, as well as the feelings of other people. Take charge of your environment by focusing on the positive and using words that move yourself and others forward.
- Keep going. Recognize that everyone has temporary setbacks and struggles. Look for a change in direction to keep going or find energy in a new path.
- Watch your stress level. When things are a bit crazy, negative emotions can rise to the surface much faster and can be harder to control. Make sure to find time to relax; take a break, and do an activity you enjoy or spend 10 minutes taking deep, refreshing breaths.
- Show compassion. We've said it before, and we'll say it again. Kindness takes practice. Look for ways to show compassion and empathy to others, even when you feel they don't deserve it. And if you need to ask for forgiveness, do it.
Being emotionally intelligent will make a positive difference in your relationships with friends and coworkers as well as in your personal life.
Other EI Resources:
“We cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us — how we can take it, what we do with it —- and that is what really counts in the end.” — Joseph Fort Newton