It probably won’t take you long to think of someone who was a great employee, therefore they moved into the “high potential” category, and were ultimately promoted to a leadership role. Everyone had high expectations only to be discouraged a few months later. It seems the new leader struggled with making the transition from individual contributor to the leadership role with the new success measures being defined by gaining results through inspiring a team. Leaders encourage collaboration, resolve conflict, support innovation, and create an environment where employees thrive, and organizational goals are achieved. This is where emotional intelligence can play a huge role in the leader’s success. Therefore, in addition to asking if the person has the technical skills to be successful, we need to consider their emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence? Think of it as a different way of being smart. Dan Goleman states it is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, and recognizing and understanding the emotions of others. Research from the Institute for Health and Human Potential suggests emotional intelligence accounts for as much as 80% of the characteristics that define exceptional and unexceptional leaders. That statistic suggests people who have high emotional intelligence will outperform others, with equal intellectual ability and technical skills, but who are not as emotionally intelligent. Emotional Intelligence also came in 6th on the World Economic Forum’s list of top 10 skills needed in 2020.
Managing our emotions effectively can lead to improved relationships, the ability to have difficult conversations without hurting feelings, resolve conflict, build collaborations, and create a trusted environment with psychological safety. According to research conducted by TTI Success Insights, our emotions are made up of genetics and our daily experiences. Studies indicate the average negative experience can have physiological effects on one’s body for approximately 4 hours. Think about the impact on your team and organization. If an employee has a negative experience, their productivity could be compromised for up to 4 hours! The good news, the leader’s behavior can lead to a positive outcome. If a manager creates a positive experience for their staff, it can dilute the impact of the negative experience thereby increasing productivity.
Emotionally intelligent leaders get noticed for three main reasons:
1. Emotionally intelligent leaders focus on themselves. I know, this sounds counterintuitive. However, Goleman’s premise that emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, manage, and understand our emotions is key. We can’t improve if we don’t understand ourselves. Once there is a greater awareness of our emotions, we can begin to manage them more effectively.
2. Emotionally intelligent leaders become better communicators. Workers look for workplaces where they feel valued and where the leader cares about them. The emotional intelligent elements of social awareness and social regulation can enhance the work environment, communication, and contribute to the psychological safety of the employee. Understanding the emotions of others and how to positively influence them can build trust, enhance communication, and strengthen relationships.
3. Emotionally intelligent leaders increase empathy. 96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention (Forbes) bringing us to the fifth factor of emotional intelligence, motivation. People want to believe in themselves and their work. The role of a leader is to empower them to do just that through support and development.
The next obvious question is…can emotional intelligence be learned? Luckily the answer is yes! If someone is self-reflective and is open to learning, there are a lot of resources available to help build these valuable skills. Here are a few simple tips to get you started today:
Know yourself. Identify your emotional triggers and learn techniques to manage your responses.
Be socially aware of the perspectives of others and consider their ideas and experiences thoughtfully.
Pay attention to important communication cues such as body language, tone of voice, and other subtle indicators that may provide insight into the emotions of others.
Show respect by giving others your attention, maintaining eye contact, and resisting the urge to respond to distractors, such as your phone or other environmental stimulants.
You have the ability to improve your emotional intelligence and achieve great things. There are endless ways to increase your emotional intelligence and if you want more information, download my free eBook, 10 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence.