How Does Emotional Intelligence Make You A Better Leader

As we know, leadership is an ever-changing field that requires you to constantly learn new skills and strategies. Your leader’s role can pertain to any position in life – from boss of a department, up through executive positions, all the way down to being a supervisor or manager.

With such a broad spectrum of leaders, what makes one person succeed sometimes leaves another struggling with their job.

Emotional intelligence (or EQ for short) has been identified as a key factor in becoming a successful leader. And while some may consider it a “soft skill”, it actually goes hand in hand with other leadership qualities like self-awareness and motivation.

When you have high emotional intelligence, you are more likely to be aware of your own emotions and how they influence others. You also are more likely to be motivated by something outside of yourself — helping others feel good about themselves can be just as motivating as feeling positive about yourself.

There are many theories about why having higher levels of emotional intelligence helps us become better leaders, but no one really knows for sure. What they do agree on, though, is that it cultivates greater empathy and understanding of others.

That could not only help you as a leader, but also inspire people to look to you as a source of inspiration and guidance.

Emotional intelligence is important in leadership

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

As we've discussed, being a good leader comes down to three major qualities — self-confidence, motivation, and communication skills.

But emotional quotient (EQ) is an underrated factor that contributes to these traits. It's also referred to as emotional intelligence or EQ.

You may have heard of it before, but do you know what types of things make up your EQ?

General concepts like empathy and understanding other people are part of this. But there are six specific factors that make up your overall EQ. They're called the intrapersonal, interpersonal, cognitive, motivational, organizational, and moral EQ scales.

Now, while some leaders are more emotionally intelligent than others, everyone has a little bit of everything. Some people seem more motivated at work, for example, while others find working less motivating.

Four elements of emotional intelligence

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

Being a good leader is more than just being charismatic, commanding attention, and having lots of energy. It’s also about motivating others to work hard for you, helping them feel like their ideas are important, and giving them clear goals that they can use to evaluate themselves.

All these things contribute to what we call “team effectiveness.” Team members perceive a leader as someone who cares about getting the best results possible and wants everyone else to have success too.

But how well do you know your colleagues? Do you understand their strengths and weaknesses? Can you identify their key motivational factors? If so, then you could be investing in their team effectiveness by using emotional intelligence (EI) skills.

You may not even recognize EI as an integral part of leadership, but it is. Because effective leaders tend to be people savvy, they know how to read other people’s emotions and motivate them through understanding and manipulation of emotion.

Emotional quotient or EQ is one of four major components of emotional intelligence. People with higher EQ show greater awareness and control over their own feelings as well as those of others. They are also aware of their own needs and put effort into meeting them.

Here are some examples of emotionally intelligent behaviors.

How to improve your emotional intelligence

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

Improving your emotional intelligence is like learning any other skill—you have to practice, practice, and keep practicing!

It’s easy to start thinking that you already have your emotional skills in control but actually assessing how well you are doing can be tricky.

Most people don’t realize there are several different types of EI tests so it is important to understand what kinds exist before trying to hone in on yours.

At The Leadership Program Group we created our own leadership assessment tool called THEQ (The Emotional Quotient Test). This test has lots of questions that relate directly to the three major domains of emotional quotient: emotion regulation, relationships, and self-awareness. By taking this test you will get an overall score as well as scores for each domain.

Your domain specific scores can then be used to determine if you have strong or weak areas of EQ. Once you know where you need work you can begin to develop strategies to help you achieve that goal.

Hold conversations with your team

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

As a leader, you need to be able to have meaningful conversations with people. You need to listen to what they are saying and respond in ways that build relationships and understanding.

You can’t expect people to respect you if you don’t show them how much you care about them as individuals and professionals.

By this I mean attending meetings when you aren’t needed and leaving someone waiting for you or going home early because you spent so much time talking to other people.

If you want to keep your job, you must develop strong interpersonal skills. You will be judged not only on your leadership abilities but also on yours as a person.

Make eye contact

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

As we know, one of the greatest ways to gain trust is by making direct eye contact with people. It is also one of the most powerful nonverbal behaviors that you can use in leadership. When someone looks into your eyes, it shows they are interested in what you have to say and that you mean business.

Making eye contact not only demonstrates interest but also confidence. It sends a message to the other person that you understand who they are and what they need from you. This enhances trust between you both.

When someone does not make enough eye contact, it can be very frustrating for you as a leader. They may even look away when you try to speak to them. This takes away important communication channels and acts like a barrier between you two.

It can also send a signal to others about how trustworthy this person is. If there’s no eye contact, people will likely assume that something is wrong or that this individual doesn’t care about being accepted by others.

Avoid becoming too focused on making eye contact though, because such a habit could become stale and boring. A good limit is to make sure you don’t spend more time looking at their face than theirs at yours every five minutes.

Incidentally, research has shown that men tend to lose focus less frequently than women do, so if you’re a guy, you’ll want to check out how often women get distracted.

Be consistent

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest reasons why emotional intelligence makes you a better leader is because it helps you to be consistently good. This includes not just having conversations but also listening to others have them with you.

Your colleagues may feel stressed or overwhelmed by their job and they could use someone to talk to about this. By being aware of your own emotions, you can identify what’s making you feel bad and try to avoid those things.

By doing so, you will spend less time feeling unhappy and in control and more times feeling relaxed and knowing that you took action to help other people feel happier.

Furthermore, if you are able to recognize and manage your own feelings then you won’t put as much pressure on yourself or others around you who don’t share your same level of empathy.

Be authentic

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

Being a leader means being yourself. Who you are as a person is what people will go off of to determine how much they trust you, believe in you, and associate with you.

If you’re not sure who you are as a person, then it can be difficult to lead others. You may put on a show for other people but inside you are still feeling something different.

You cannot influence others if you do not know who you are as a person. You also cannot expect them to relate to you if you don’t understand who you are.

Being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses helps you become a better leader. You can use those skills to motivate others around you or learn how to delegate so that someone else can take over some of the leadership tasks.

Embrace your personal quirks and vulnerabilities because these things make you unique as a human being. Don’t try to eliminate any parts of yourself, just work on finding balance between your internal and external self.

Don’t worry about whether people will like you or think you’re good enough, only focus on helping them achieve their goals.

Provide structure

how does emotional intelligence make you a better leader

As a leader, you will find that your effectiveness is directly related to how well you provide structure for others. Your colleagues and superiors look to you as someone who knows what needs to be done, and when.

They rely on you to set deadlines, keep them, and stick to them. They come to you for help with projects, and you are usually the first point of contact for information or advice.

Your direct reports trust you to make decisions and move forward without questions or delays. When they need something signed off or authorized, they go to you.

In addition to giving orders, leadership also entails being able to motivate people to do their jobs and work under difficult conditions.

You can’t expect people to feel motivated about their job if they don’t believe they have one – which means we must create an environment where everyone feels appreciated and needed.

That takes emotional intelligence.

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