Why is Emotional Intelligence so Important For Leaders?
Leadership is all about relationships. It’s not just about being nice, likable, or supportive—although that helps. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better at managing their emotions and are better able to accurately read emotions in others.
But beyond having empathy, leaders with a high EQ have better organizational awareness, they enhance teamwork through influence, conflict management, and coaching, and they provide and promote psychological safety at work.
Tips to Help You and Your Team Improve Emotional Intelligence
The good news about emotional intelligence is that it is learnable with practice. Here are some tips for leaders who want to increase their emotional intelligence:
This may seem like a leadership essential, yet many leaders are feedback aversive. Don’t just ask others for feedback about the decisions that were made, but about how you as a leader facilitated the decision. Ask about your behavior, and inquire about what you said and how you said it. Take a leadership behavior 360-degree assessment such as The LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® or one specifically focused on emotional competencies. Who wants to stay in the dark, if you can have greater influence by knowing how you impact others!
Give Yourself a (Positive) Attitude Check
Do you have a vision for yourself that is positive and forward-looking? It’s not surprising that leaders who are passionate about their work are perceived as more credible and have teams that share in the excitement of possibilities. If you find it difficult to manage your emotions, seek some support. Others are watching and your outlook is contagious.
View Your Organization Objectively
Make space to reflect on the overall organizational culture. Walk around, (or meet virtually), ask questions, and engage others. You will make better decisions when you are not just aware, but understand the organizational roadblocks that may impact the good work of others. Initiate pulse surveys to round out your understanding of how employees are engaged at work.
Get conflict savvy
Individual and team performance is at the foundation of organizational success. Leaders earn influence and respect when they manage conflict and give needed difficult and considerate feedback in a way that drives change and moves initiates forward. Start with assessing, and understanding your conflict style. An assessment such as Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict can help you learn to manage and facilitate conflict for greater teamwork and positive change.
Coach and Mentor
Coaching is the master skill of relationship management. It’s about bringing out the best in others through safe, honest, and forward-looking conversations. And it’s more about listening, asking, and inquiring than about telling. Challenge yourself to be a more effective coach by taking coaching seminars or trying group and peer coaching with your team. Mentoring is about sharing your experience and expertise with others and facilitating conversations that have relevance to their growth. Make yourself open to mentoring at least one other person in your organization or community.
Learn About and Foster Psychological Safety at Work
When people feel meaningfully connected and safe at work, they tend to bring their best ideas and efforts to each challenge they face. Psychological safety takes EQ one step further and helps ensure leaders, employees, and team members feel heard and able to express themselves without fear of mistakes or reprisals. Investigate how to cultivate and promote psychological safety at work by asking first how you feel at work, and then how your team feels. Some great tips for getting started can be found in our blog: What You Should Know about Psychological Safety at Work.
One of the best predictors of your leadership effectiveness and success is the continuous development of your emotional capacity. Daniel Goleman, a leader in EI, stresses the need for leaders to have a balance of strengths in their emotional capabilities that spans self-awareness and empathy to driving change and inspirational leadership. Business results are built on this important leadership arena, so it is worth your attention to this leadership scaffolding.