When we’re looking for positive leadership traits, Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become regarded as one of the most significant. Emotional Intelligence is defined as ‘the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.’ It can easily be argued that Emotional Intelligence is an important characteristic for anyone at any level within an organisation, but a leader with high levels of Emotional Intelligence can have a strong influence over their relationships, how they are able to manage their teams and how they interact with multiple individuals within a workplace.
We know that all great leaders will have their own personal leadership style and they will be aware of how their style can influence individuals or a group, which is a very useful tool. A great leader will be able to identify, understand and manage their own emotions, and utilise these skills to do so with others in a very empowering way. This one of the important facets of Emotional Intelligence is.
So, why might a leader require Emotional Intelligence to attain higher levels of performance?
Most leaders will face stressful or challenging situations on a frequent basis. Emotional Intelligence allows for a leader to act appropriately in these kinds of situations, meaning they can manage their own emotions and help to manage the emotions of others at the same time. When you’re in these kinds of situations, it is not constructive to raise your voice, be argumentative or passive-aggressive, as this would not lead toward you solving problems; it will only serve to reduce rather than enhance your credibility. If you don’t have at least average levels of Emotional Intelligence, then you risk creating an even more stressful environment where your team members are uncomfortable working in your presence.
In terms of working in collaboration with others, being emotionally unintelligent can inhibit teamwork. A leader needs a good handle on their emotions in order to react appropriately and welcome contributions from other peers and employees alike.
By working with others whilst in a leadership role, you need to be able to address situations that could be fraught with emotion. Conflict is a common aspect that a leader may need to deal with, and they therefore need to be clued into others’ emotions, recognising conflict and dealing with the situation effectively to produce a satisfactory resolution.
A leader with greater levels of Emotional Intelligence can foster safe working environments, where employees feel comfortable and are able to voice their opinions that may be considered and valued. Being able to work in collaboration with others helps to foster a positive work environment and culture.
When a leader is emotionally intelligent, they can leverage emotions for the good of any given situation. A leader will often have to act as a change agent, and if they are aware of how others will react emotionally to change, they are more likely to anticipate this and plan for the most appropriate way to introduce and carry out that change.
An emotionally intelligent leader is less likely to take criticism personally and will see it as an opportunity to learn and develop, valuing feedback like gold-dust. They can separate themselves appropriately in order move on with plans without worrying about the impact it will have on their egos.
Compassion, effective communication, self-awareness, authenticity, leading with heart, sense of humour, confidence, intuition and creativity are some of the reasons why Emotional Intelligence is critical for a leader.
Compassion - A leader with Emotional Intelligence will not be afraid of the emotions of someone else. A leader who wishes to create and develop a particular work environment will care about their employees and clients and as such, will treat them with compassion.
Effective communication – In order to share visions, values and strategies, a leader will need to make sure everyone is on the same page. They will do this through effective communication. Motivation and efficiency come from effective communication and by being clear and consistent, leaders ensure that employees understand what is expected of them. Through effective communication, a leader will also be able to listen without judgement, keep emotions under control and ask questions when necessary in order to seek understanding.
Self-awareness – A great leader will be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and can focus on these strengths whilst carrying out their daily tasks. They will also be able to see others’ strengths and weaknesses and utilise these appropriately in any given situation, including having the awareness to identify development opportunities.
Authenticity – If you are a leader who knows oneself and acts from a position of truth then you will see that others are drawn to you as an individual. A leader who is authentic will conduct their person consistently and will make decisions from a place of authority that requires no second-guessing.
Leading with heart – A leader who is passionate and emotionally intelligent will connect with others easily. Being analytical is good, but you need to make sure that you are also approachable and not dictatorial. There is a time and a place for being autocratic, but that should be reserved for urgency or crises, or for those lacking relevant in knowledge and experience.
Sense of humour – Seriousness of course has its place, but you also need to be aware of when to take a break and when to balance your personality. Individuals will usually work harder and smarter when there is a sense of fun within the workplace. Humour or fun can increase productivity and enhance morale and motivation.
Confidence – A leader needs confidence in order to tackle various situations. You need to be confident, and not overact or become overwhelmed. Others will look to a leader for cues on how to respond to any given situation, and if you, as the leader, are confident then it will help others to feel the same.
Intuition – Leaders are required to make quick decisions based on their knowledge and understanding. Using your logic and intuition is important for making decisions.
Creativity – As a leader you will be required to make decisions and sometimes you may need to go against the grain. You might need to utilise your creativity and innovation in order to create something new. If you welcome others’ creativity and innovation then you can enhance your collective creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Some individuals can possess more Emotional Intelligence than others and it is a trait that can be measured and developed. Taking an EQ-I 2.0 assessment is a good first step to establishing your own level of Emotional Intelligence.