Whether you’re leading a team, a department or a business, leadership isn’t easy. It often involves focusing efforts on managing not just your own behavior and output, but also that of your entire team. Using emotional intelligence enables you to apply emotional considerations to problems so that you can separate your own ‘gut’ reaction and respond with empathy, kindness, and consideration – which will in turn foster a better and healthier workplace.
As Daniel Goleman, inventor of the term explains, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but… they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions”. Understanding and using emotional intelligence as part of your leadership style will make you a better leader by helping you to deepen your emotional understanding of yourself, your team, and how thoughts and actions impact success.
Actively Listen to Employees and Peers
Most people naturally spend time formulating responses while others are talking. If you’re upset or angry, you could be completely ignoring what the other person is saying. Taking the time to consciously listen and process what someone is saying, so that you are sure you understand their reasons and motivations, will help you to make better decisions. It takes time to learn to actively listen, but it will build empathy and trust inside your team.
Spend Time Around Other Emotionally Intelligent People
Spending time around people who show and use emotional intelligence can help you to develop your own. If the people you talk to are emotionally self-aware, calm under pressure, and able to use emotional intelligence for solving problems and resolving them, you will learn from them.
Recognize and Learn from Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and everyone benefits from treating self-improvement as a lifelong process. Working to recognize and admit when you make mistakes is one way to practice and use emotional intelligence to become a better leader. For example, let’s say that an employee turned a task around late, made an excuse, and help up the entire team. You get angry and you berate them in front of the entire team. You could easily see that this was not an emotionally intelligent way to approach the problem, even if the employee was at fault. Apologizing to them and asking what they would want to do to try to prevent being late on tasks in the future or offering help on the next big task would help you to develop as a leader, while building trust from inside your team.
Pay attention to your decisions, observe what goes wrong and why, and make sure you understand how your actions and reactions affect your team and their motivation.
Empathy is the practice of understanding and sharing the feelings of others. When someone is upset, it’s important not to blindly react, but to understand why. As a leader, emotional intelligence can help you to understand motivation, offer motivation, and compromise.
- Pay attention to body language. Are people upset? Disappointed? Confused?
- Respond to emotions. How can you alleviate concerns? Make up for disappointments? Provide motivation? For example, if your team working overtime, can you provide emotional motivation to do so?
- React with empathy. For example, is someone late because of a problem? Can you react with empathy instead of “by the book”?
Empathy can help you to bridge the gap between being an intelligent leader and one who can build trust and loyalty with your team. Hopefully you can use these tips to integrate emotional intelligence into your leadership and become a better leader.