When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. – Dale Carnegie
Most leaders today are trained to have the standard skill sets, intellectual capability, and technical know-how. While these are important, they aren’t enough to manage employees effectively.
What distinguishes outstanding leaders from average ones is the emotional element. This is what successfully sets leaders apart and aids them to coach teams, manage stress, and focus on building a collaborative environment.
According to research, 90 percent of what distinguishes high performers from others with similar technical knowledge and other skill sets, are emotional and social intelligence!
Why Is Emotional Intelligence So Important?
An emotionally intelligent person can comprehend his/her own as well as others’ emotions, understand how they dictate the outcomes, and then leverage that knowledge to motivate others. According to research done in San Diego by TalentSmart, it was found that just 36 percent of people can identify with emotions accurately.
However, a lack of emotional intelligence among leaders can be devastating to the people who work under them. As a result, it can lead to lower employee engagement and a higher turnover rate.
While you might have the technical expertise, if you can’t effectively communicate or collaborate with others, then your technical skills tend to get overlooked. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can climb up the career ladder and motivate your team to drive business growth.
Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies
The best way to improve your emotional intelligence is to understand the key competencies and what each element entails. Here’s a closer look at the five key elements:
For starters, to bring out the best in others, you need to be self-equipped and bring out the best capabilities in yourself. This is where self-awareness comes into play. Self-Awareness forms the foundation for assessing your own strengths and weaknesses. It also helps to recognise your emotions and their impact on you and your team’s performance.
In a research done by a renowned organisational psychologist, 95% think that they are self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent actually are. Working with leaders who are not self-aware can cut a team’s success by 50%, according to the same research, and lead to stress and demotivation.
The best way to assess your self-awareness is to implement a 360-degree feedback process. It’s good for all leaders to get honest feedback from their colleagues, subordinates and supervisors. Throughout this process, you can gain quick insights on your own behaviour and uncover how you are perceived in the eyes of others for real.
Self-management is all about how you handle your emotions under pressure and stressful situations. In today’s competitive world, the pressure to work harder has become the norm. Therefore, leaders who have to bear all the brunt need to have proper self-management to keep their impulses in check and react appropriately.
That doesn’t mean you should not react at all and lock away your emotions. Rather respond to a situation, gather yourself and do whatever it takes to manage your emotions so that you respond aptly to stress or adversity. The following elements are critical for self-management:
- Emotional Self-Control – The ability to hold your nerves in a critical situation and respond in a calm and composed manner
- Achievement Orientation – Always on the look-out for ways to do things better by taking calculated risks and exceeding excellence
- Positive Outlook – It’s very important for a leader to be positive despite obstacles and setbacks
- Adaptability – Being proactive and changing your stance to handle any change before it arises
3. Social Awareness
While it’s imperative to be self-aware, you also need the ability to read the emotions of your team to be a good leader. Social awareness refers to your ability to understand others’ emotions and dynamics in play within your organisation. Practising the following virtues will help you build your social quotient:
- Exercising Empathy – Global leadership development firm DDI considers empathy to be the most important skill that leaders should possess. Empathetic leaders tend to perform more than 40 percent higher in coaching, engaging others, and decision-making.
- Organisational Awareness – The ability to identify group dynamics, influencers, networks, power relationships, and read a team’s emotional currents.
4. Relationship Management
Lastly, relationship management refers to how well you use social insights to influence, coach, mentor your team and resolve conflicts. An outstanding leader can simply walk into the room and revive the mood of people. The way they interact, express their opinions and give others a sense of hope under difficult circumstances, reflect their relationship management skills.
- Influence – The ability to maintain positive vibes with others, persuading and convince others to gain support
- Coach and Mentor – Foster long term learning and development consistently by offering constant feedback, guidance and support
- Conflict Management – Addressing tension and friction in a team is of utmost importance to find timely solutions. Research pinpoints that every unaddressed conflict can waste about eight hours of company time in gossip and other unproductive activities, putting a drain on resources and morale.
- Inspirational Leadership – The competency to inspire and drive individuals towards the accomplishment of common goals and objectives
- Teamwork – The ability to work with others collaboratively, sharing responsibilities and rewards without taking sole credit for the work.
5. Intrinsic Motivation
Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are motivated by entities beyond external rewards of money, fame and recognition. Instead, they have an innate passion for growing personally and seeking experiences that contribute to their inner needs or goals.
Those leaders who are competent in this segment tend to be action-oriented and are committed to taking up initiatives and responsibilities that comes their way. Leaders set the tone of the organisation. Therefore when they are not effective, it trickles down throughout the organisation.
Emotional Intelligence More Important Than IQ
It’s important to find leaders with a high IQ, but the emotional and social quotient of the leader matters the most. If you lack some of these important social skills, it will be cumbersome to deal with interpersonal relationships as well as external relationships.
The good news is that you can improve your emotional intelligence by following the above competencies and excel your leadership skills to a whole new level. From making decisions, inspiring people, and driving a team towards a shared goal, emotional intelligence is needed as a supplement to technical knowledge.
No matter what leaders try to do, its success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else right, if leaders aren’t emotionally and socially sound, their success can be short-lived.
Always remember that the right emotions have the power to drive employee engagement and in turn, grow the revenue and profits of the business. Work on your emotional intelligence today to become a better leader tomorrow and continuously develop yourself as a person.