How Important Is Emotional Intelligence In Leadership

Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the most popular leadership theories. Some even refer to it as the “new big idea” for leaders. It sounds impressive – you have to be able to read someone’s emotions to lead them, right?

But is this theory really worth investing time into? And what does the research say about how important EI actually is when it comes to leadership success?

In this article, we will discuss the importance of emotional skills for leadership and some reasons why people believe emotional talent is more essential than ever before.

We will also look at the things that stand in your way from developing your emotional intelligence and strategies to improve your emotional quotient.

Definition of leadership

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

What is leadership? That is one of the most discussed topics in our society these days. People seem to have different definitions, depending on who you ask and what their own personal goals are.

Many people think that being a leader means being someone with power, or having control over other individuals. This isn’t wrong, but it can be very limiting.

Leaders don’t need to be in charge of others, they should instead try to inspire them to do things. They should motivate others to work hard for a common goal.

Emotions play an important role in how well we lead others. If a lot of people around us are experiencing strong emotions, then we will probably use similar ones.

We may even learn something about them by studying their reactions. This could mean inspiring fear, excitement, hope, anger, gratitude, sadness, etc.

Some theories refer to emotional intelligence (EI) as the ability to recognize your own feelings and those of others. You can also use this knowledge to manipulate emotion so that you can more effectively influence others.

However, there is no consensus on which theory is correct. Some believe that personality traits contribute more to leadership than EI does.

This article will talk about the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Then, some ideas will be given for ways to improve your EQ skills.

It is definitely worth investing time into if you want to become a better leader.

Link between emotional intelligence and leadership

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

Over the past few decades, there have been many theories about what makes someone effective as an leader. Some say it’s being good at maths or accounting, while others believe charisma is essential.

But one theory that has gathered steam is that being able to identify and manage your own emotions is integral to leading effectively.

This idea was popularized back in the 1990s by Daniel Goleman, who coined the term ‘emotional literacy.’ He defined it as the ability to recognize your own feelings and those of other people, and how these affect you and them.

Since then, this concept has been linked to a wide range of positive outcomes, including higher job performance, lower employee turnover, more satisfying relationships, and even longer life.

So why are we still talking about emotional intelligence?

It’s not just because Dan Goleman wrote a bestselling book about it (though he did). It also has something to do with the fact that researchers now think it may be a fundamental human quality.

Ways to improve your emotional intelligence

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of interest in what is now referred to as emotional intelligence (EI). Some people refer to it as “other-related” or "intrapersonal" skills because they believe that being more aware of your own emotions is the key to improving your personal relationships.

However, most studies still focus only on intrapersonal EI, which is why we sometimes hear about them getting a paper job for leaving work early because you just couldn't stop crying.

In fact, a recent study found that externalizing emotion – understanding what motivates other people and how their behavior impacts those around them– was actually the strongest predictor of success at work!1

Externalized emotion is also one of the biggest reasons people get into trouble at work - witness the term ‘white elephant’ office party.

So if you're looking to climb the ladder at your organization, learning how to manage your internal feelings is a good place to start.

Taking control of your emotions

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

By now, you’ve probably noticed that some people seem to get much more accomplished than others. They may be better organized, they could manage their time more efficiently, and they could motivate other people to help them achieve their goals.

What makes this difference is emotional intelligence (or EQ for short). The term was coined in the 1990s, but it really gained popularity in the early 2000s when Daniel Goleman published his bestseller “Emotional Intelligence.”

Since then, many have made the case that having high levels of EQ is an important part of leading and changing things for the better. In fact, one theory suggests that being emotionally intelligent gives you a significant advantage in life over individuals who are not.

Research confirms that EQ is related to higher job performance, lower employee turnover, and greater productivity. It also correlates with less stress, healthier relationships, and overall happiness.

While there are no courses or exams that measure EQ, researchers do assess self-reported measures such as how often someone is able to show sympathy to others, whether they tend to take responsibility for problems, and if they prefer talking about practical issues rather than getting into personal ones.

Know your emotions

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

A large part of being a leader is knowing what you're feeling, learning how to control those feelings, and understanding why you feel the way you do. This is called emotional intelligence (or EQ for short).

There are many theories about what makes someone have high emotional intelligence, but no one really agrees on anything solid. What we can say for sure is that people who score highly on measures of emotional intelligence are happier, more successful leaders.

They are also less likely to commit bad acts or act without thinking first due to their lower levels of aggression. In other words, they don’t take harmful actions because they aren't necessarily aggressive at all.

Instead, these individuals are able to identify and understand their own feelings so they know when it's time to pull back the reins and stop things before they get out of hand, or run away to avoid an argument or confrontation.

So how does everyone else around you know whether you're angry, sad, happy, or whatever?

By the look in your eyes, the tone of your voice, and how you respond to them. They may be able to tell from comments you make or behaviors you exhibit.

It's important to remember that there will always be something you've got going on inside you, and it's okay if you don't know exactly what it is.

Learn to be assertive

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

Being able to control your emotions is an important leadership skill. People will put you in difficult positions because they have doubts about your ability to handle yourself, which can negatively impact them- sometimes even leading to violence or suicide.

By this stage of your career, you’ve probably learned how to keep your temper in check when someone does something that hurts your feelings. You are aware that yelling isn’t productive and may hurt your reputation, so you try to respond with kindness instead.

But what if I told you that being angry is actually a good thing? That it makes you more effective as a leader?

When you're in a situation where you feel threatened, there's an instinctual reflex to take action. It's like having a body memory for danger. Your subconscious knows what to do before your conscious mind gets involved. This reaction helps ensure your safety by pushing away potential threats.

It sounds crazy but it works. And research shows that people who suffer from emotional intelligence (or EI) tend to use these instincts more effectively than others.

You see, we all possess some degree of emotional intelligence. We just don't always acknowledge it. Like physical strength, everyone has a certain amount of intuitive understanding of other people.

For example, we know whether someone is telling the truth or not, and we can tell when someone is stressed or hungry. However, it takes practice to recognize our own emotions and those of others.

Be realistic

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

Let’s look at this from another angle- what is emotional intelligence? It’s just that, it’s called “emotional literacy or understanding.” And what does leadership entail? Being able to motivate people to work towards your goals.

So if you are not emotionally intelligent, then it would make sense that you can’t be a good leader. You won’t know how to motivate others to do things for you.

You’ll spend all your time trying to get those around you to agree with you and support your ideas, but they will never agree unless they feel like they are being supported themselves. This cuts down on effective communication which is key to success as a leader.

If someone is having an off day, you should reconsider whether this person is the right fit for the job. They may need help finding motivation, or even needs of their own tending to. A lot of times, senior leaders don’t give enough credit to their underlings and assume that everyone else out there is motivated by them.

It’s important to recognize when someone isn’t feeling well and to offer some encouragement or maybe ask about something personal. Sometimes, knowing where someone is coming from makes all the difference.

Love yourself enough

how important is emotional intelligence in leadership

As we know, leadership is not just about being able to make others feel good about themselves and giving them what they want; it is also about inspiring and motivating people to work together towards a common goal.

As leaders, we need to love ourselves first. We have to believe in our own worth before we can do that for anyone else.

Too many of us struggle with self-love at the best of times, but when life gets tough – something which it will – this ability becomes even more important.

Without loving yourself, you won’t be able to put in the effort needed to achieve your goals. You’ll give up early and avoid risk, limiting your potential.

You'll also be less likely to try to help someone else succeed because you don’t think you deserve it.

Research has shown that lack of confidence in your own abilities is one of the biggest barriers to success in both career and personal lives.

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