How Emotional Intelligence Impacts Leadership
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Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the most popular concepts in leadership theories. It is also one of the most controversial ones. Some believe that it is simply another way to label mental health as “important” and “useful.” Others claim that it is nothing more than an excuse for those with low self-esteem to feel better about themselves.
This article will talk about why emotional intelligence is important to leadership and some strategies you can use to improve your own EQ.
Emotional intelligence – what is it really?
First off, what is emotional intelligence actually referred to as? Many people refer to it as “self-awareness.” This seems like a good starting place because it is definitely a part of human beings. Most animals are emotionally intelligent to some degree.
Self-awareness means being able to recognize and understand your emotions. You are not necessarily feeling positive or negative towards something, but if you could identify what was making you feel this way then you would know how to fix the problem.
Some experts say that we should only call someone who has high self-awareness emotionally intelligent because they understood their own feelings. However, many agree that having higher levels of EI makes it easier to control your emotions so that is our benchmark for defining EQ.
Why is emotional intelligence important?
Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of interest in what we call “emotional literacy” or “EI.” This term refers to our ability to identify, understand, manage, and use emotions for effective performance.
Most people are at least partially aware that they sometimes don’t respond well to certain situations, but they may not know why. They may also be conscious of how their own personal feelings can influence what they do, but they might not necessarily recognize this as a form of emotion regulation.
However, most experts agree that it’s very important to learn about your own emotions if you want to succeed in life.
There are many reasons why having more EI is a good thing to have. Here are some examples and strategies you can apply to improve your EQ.
You will probably experience something called ‘ebbing motivation’ at times. That means you get into a motivational state like reading these words, then nothing seems to happen – no action follows. It could be because you’ve read this article before, or maybe because you just didn’t feel motivated enough today.
Or perhaps you lost motivation after reading those words. In that case, you wasted valuable time and effort.
The best way to avoid ebbing motivation is by being able to recognize and understand your own emotions.
Relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership
Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in understanding how to improve people’s emotional quotients (EQ). These are things like empathy, self-awareness, and motivation.
Many believe that having strong relationships is an integral part of being successful as leader. And research seems to confirm this theory.
In his book The Leader's Handbook, Daniel Goleman notes that effective leaders develop close personal ties with others. He adds that these individuals understand other people and recognize their strengths and weaknesses more clearly than most people.
He also points out that such leaders tend to be motivated by helping others succeed rather than seeking personal gain.
Given all this, it makes sense to consider whether you have high levels of emotional intelligence.
You can easily test your EQ through some questions and surveys. While no one is born with higher or lower EQ, you are always able to learn more about yourself and other people.
Leadership and the five emotional intelligence skills
Being a leader is not only about being in command of yourself, but also understanding what kind of emotions other people can afford to see at work and outside of work. It’s about creating an environment that encourages collaboration and loyalty, and ensuring your team knows they can come to you for help and guidance at any time.
As human beings we all have different levels of empathy. Some people are more empathetic than others, just like some people are more logical than others. But no matter how much or little someone has of each of these qualities, everyone functions better in a workplace with high emotional quality.
That’s because leadership isn’t only about giving orders and talking big; it’s about motivating people to do their jobs and helping them feel good about themselves.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a term used to describe how well you understand and control your own feelings. And while there are many theories as to what makes someone say “Ah! I understood this concept so clearly!” or “This theory totally made sense to me!”, most agree that it comes down to personal autonomy and self-regulation.
How to improve your emotional intelligence
Having strong relationships is one of the most important things for leadership. You will find that there are many ways to develop your relationship skills, but none more effective than improving your own EQ.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize your emotions and what triggers them in yourself and others.
By understanding how you feel and why, you can work on changing those reasons for feeling that way.
You can also learn to manage your feelings and achieve better results from situations by recognizing potential negative outcomes and making sure they don’t happen.
With enough practice, you’ll be able to overcome your shyness or fear of other people and create healthier interactions with others.
Keep an open mind
Recent research indicates that emotional intelligence (EI) is just as important to leadership as IQ. While there has been some talk about “emotion” being a key factor in effective leaders, most of this discussion focuses only on certain types of emotions — like anger or sadness.
What many don’t realize is that other types of emotion can be just as powerful for leading others.
In fact, there are several theories about why having higher EI makes it easier to lead. These include:
The motivation theory suggests that people with high EI are more motivated by non-work related rewards such as friendship or personal success than people who have low EI.
The effectiveness theory believes that individuals with higher EQ are better able to recognize and understand how others feel which helps them manage their staff effectively.
The moral strength theory asserts that people with higher EQ tend to believe that things are worth doing themselves, so they’re less likely to rely on external forces to get things done.
And the self-efficacy theory argues that people with higher EQ perceive themselves as capable, thus encouraging them to trust their abilities more.
All these theories suggest that someone with high EQ is more likely to motivate others to do good work and hold onto their position even when confronted with opposition or challenges.
Develop your self-control
One of the most important things that leaders can develop is emotional control. You may notice that some people seem to get really passionate about something very often, whereas other people do not appear as engaged.
This difference in engagement seems like it would have an obvious reason — one person might believe so strongly in a product or service that they cannot help but talk about it, while another will be less invested and thus keep their conversations more casual.
However, this assumption ignores the effect that personal emotions can have on someone else. When you are aware of this fact, then you must consider how these emotions influence others.
For example, let’s say that your friend just learned that her favorite movie has a late showing at the theater. Because she is so excited, she calls everyone she knows to tell them and invite them to come watch the movie together.
Now, if you were totally unconcerned with the movie when her initial call was made, you probably wouldn’t feel obligated to attend. But for your friend, her feelings make you want to go out and see the movie too, which makes you feel even more motivated to organize watching it.
In cases such as these, we can refer to this as incentive diffusion – where someone’s positive emotion causes nearby individuals to become emotionally aroused as well. In this situation, all three participants would enjoy the movie more because of your friend’s enthusiasm.
Be honest with your peers
As mentioned earlier, emotional intelligence is just that- understanding how to manage your emotions so they do not influence you or others. This includes being able to identify your own feelings and those of other people, as well as being aware of what makes someone else feel good or bad.
By being aware of this, we can apply it in our relationships and jobs. If you are a leader, you should be aware of how your colleagues and superiors feel about things. You want to make sure that they have enough respect for you that they will come when you call them, but that their overall relationship with you is positive.
At the same time, you want to make sure that you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings unintentionally. In fact, having high levels of empathy can help you succeed at leadership because you understand human nature!
If your subordinates feel like they are never heard or understood, then they may hesitate to tell you something that could potentially cost them or the organization. Or if they think that no one really cares about what they say, then they may avoid taking initiative or trying new ideas.
Emotions play a big part in teamwork, and without strong team bonds, employees may lose motivation to put in extra effort. Since leaders depend on their teams to keep moving forward, low morale can be disastrous.
Be honest with your superiors
As mentioned earlier, emotional intelligence (EI) is a skill that comes down to how you manage your emotions. This is important because leadership positions require you to interact with people on a constant basis.
If you are not able to control your own emotions then it can be difficult for others to rely on you or believe in you as a leader. It also may hurt their trust in you if they see you breaking down due to stress.
At its worst, lack of emotion control could cause someone to lose respect and confidence in you which would negatively impact you professionally and personally.
That wouldn’t make anyone happy! So, being aware of your EQ and using appropriate strategies to deal with situations helps promote leadership skills.