Kristi Sinclair - HR Professional
There are a million fads out there when it comes to business, leadership, coaching and performance management. But EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, isn’t one of them. Understanding the EQ of yourself and your employees is extremely powerful as business success can be driven by our ability to read other people’s signals and how we then react based on these cues.
Leaders who are emotionally intelligent can create positive work environments where employees feel comfortable to take calculated risks, suggest ideas and to voice their opinions. In such safe environments working collaboratively isn’t just an objective, it becomes a value.
When a leader is emotionally intelligent, they can use emotions in a positive manner to drive the organisation forward. Leaders often have the responsibility of implementing change in the organisation and if they are aware of, and understand, possible emotional reactions to these changes, they are able to plan and prepare the most optimal ways to make them work.
Emotionally intelligent leaders generally don’t take things personally and are able to forge ahead with plans without worrying about the impact on their egos. Conflicts between leaders and employees are a common hindrance to productivity in many workplaces so when the leader has a high degree of emotional intelligence, this conflict is lessened, or directed in a way that is productive Being able to understand an emotive reaction and use that energy in a productive manner because you can discern the need behind the response is a powerful tool in a leaders utility belt!
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and separate from one’s own emotions as well as the ability to direct these emotions to have an ideal response as situations dictate. It is an awareness and empathy towards the emotions of others and the ability to adapt as necessary.
People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they are feeling, what their emotions mean and how these emotions can affect other people. They can use this to positively influence the environment around them.
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularise emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to emotional intelligence:
The more a leader can manage each of these areas, the higher their emotional intelligence.
The first two points go hand in hand, but let’s separate them and then discuss their relationship.
Awareness of self means you are aware of how you are feeling and you understand the affect your feelings and your actions have on the people around you. On the surface that sounds simple but it is not necessarily the case. Sometimes it is not an easy thing to separate the emotion from the situation.
Putting this into a real world scenario….. think about the manager that is really great at her job. She’s charismatic with clients and the senior management team and she’s technically brilliant at her actual job. However, when it comes to the daily management of her team she struggles to get traction. She is fast paced and expects everyone to be the same. She throws out challenges and gets excited about them and when her team don’t respond as she expects – which is to be excited too – she reacts poorly, deciding that they are incompetent, ‘not on the team’ or lazy. Instead, her team are likely not as fast paced, don’t really understand what it is she wants from them, and they are struggling to understand, and as a result are somewhat deflated. She is not emotionally intelligent enough to read the situation and see what she could do differently.
Self-regulation on the other hand is a separation from these feelings; the ability to remove how you feel from the situation and not project your emotions onto it. I like to think of it as the rose-coloured glasses we view the situation through, it alters our perception of what is happening.
If we refer to the manager above, if she had some self awareness about her own fast paced, excitable style, and was able to self-regulate this to present the information to her team in a less emotional way which sought to gain their buy-in, she would be demonstrating more emotional intelligence.
SELF AWARENESS + SELF REGULATION
Whilst self awareness is knowing you are wearing rose coloured glasses, self regulation is knowing the influence this these emotions have and adjusting accordingly. It’s like knowing that the colours of reality look different because you are wearing rose coloured glasses. It’s knowing you need to factor that in before choosing a colour to paint your wall. It’s knowing that sometimes it’s not so easy to just take the glasses off…
As a leader, self-awareness means you are always fully aware of how you feel, and you understand the effect your feelings and your actions can have on the people around you. A self-aware leader maintains a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses and, despite their position of authority, still operates from a mindset of humility.
Self-regulation prevents a leader from abusing their position to attack and/or stereotype others and from making hurried or whimsical decisions that compromise their values. It calls for them to keep control of their emotions and how they affect others as well as stay committed to personal accountability.
A self-motivated leader will consistently work toward their own goals and the goals of the business. They will provide an environment that is motivating for their employees and will have extremely high standards for the quality of their work. They develop a healthy emotional connection to the results they seek from their efforts, harnessing them to drive them forward without being obsessive. In general, motivated leaders are optimistic regardless of the challenges they encounter. It’s a mindset that one can learn through practice and focus and when demonstrated, can have a powerful impact.
Empathy is what allows you to put yourself in other people’s shoes and consider their unique perspectives. Leaders with empathy actively support the career and personal growth of their team members, provide constructive feedback in a productive and meaningful way designed to coach and develop, and are able to listen to and address the emotional responses and needs of their team. Such leaders use this ability to encourage employees to perform above expectations.
Leaders with well developed social skills are great at communication, which is important when it comes to getting their team pumped about a new project or objective and when building relationships across teams and with clients and suppliers.
A solid level of EQ allows them to receive both good and bad news with the same clarity of mind and this makes their team and colleagues confident enough to update them on anything.
Leaders with good social skills are also great at planning, effecting and overseeing major changes in the workplace as well as managing conflict fairly and promptly. They are very much leaders who set the example with their own behaviour.
IMPROVE YOUR EQ
If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, and be a more effective leader as a result, firmly focus on the following:
Emotional Intelligence can be improved if a leader has the desire to focus on this as part of their leadership development. Reach out to us at HR Staff n’ Stuff for information on the tools or courses that are available to help with improving EQ.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!