Why Emotional Intelligence is a Key Leadership Skill

Having a high degree of emotional intelligence is an important skill for any leader. The ability to understand and manage the emotions of those around us, as well as our own, can have a huge impact on how we work with others and how others respond to us. In this respect, having a high level of emotional intelligence is important in any people-orientated role, not just leadership.

emotional-intelligenceWhen we are recruiting for a role, often a lot of emphasis is placed on our candidates’ personalities and general intelligence. We want to ensure that their personality is a good fit for the role that we are recruiting for and that they have the ability to learn quickly and develop in that role. This is the case with a lot of recruiters and employers. But could emotional intelligence actually be key, when considering candidates for leadership and management?

David Goleman, an American psychologist who has helped to bring emotional intelligence into the limelight, states that there are 5 main elements to emotional intelligence.

If leaders can harness these 5 elements, they will improve upon their success and achieve better results.

1. Self-awareness

Your emotional intelligence begins with understanding yourself. You should be aware of what you are feeling and how your emotions could be affecting those around you. As a leader, part of self-awareness is also knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

If you want to become more self-aware, take a moment to step back when your emotions are running high. Stop and consider why you feel that way and make a considered choice on how you want to react. Remember, that your reaction is always your choice and strong leaders know how to assess their choice.

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is all about keeping control and not letting your emotions lead you to make rushed decisions and reactions. Shouting or verbally attacking others is often an emotional response that good leaders rarely do.

To improve your self-regulation, ensure that you know what your values are and when you are unprepared to make compromises. You should also learn to accept and admit your mistakes rather than trying to thrust the blame onto others. Remaining calm and keeping control of your temper in any situation is also key. If this is something you struggle with, make an effort to find a few techniques that will help you to calm down.

3. Motivation

Great leaders are always working to achieve their goals and to get there they need to be motivated. When in a leadership position, you do not always have someone else to help you to get motivated, so possessing self-motivation skills is key.

To improve your motivation, set yourself short and long-term goals and try to keep these in mind when you feel your motivation slipping. Do your best to start each day with a positive attitude, a plan of action and a clear focus.

4. Empathy

Being empathetic is hugely important when leading a team of people. It’s important for you to be able to understand others and how they are feeling, to put yourself in their shoes. Empathy will earn you the respect and loyalty of your team.

To improve your empathy, make an effort to see things from the other person’s point of view. You should be watchful of body language to uncover how your team is really feeling. When you understand the feelings of others you will then be able to respond appropriately and make them feel better about certain situations.

Social Skills

It is social skills that make leaders great communicators. They know how to get their team’s support and to get them excited about a project. Leaders with strong social skills know how to deal with conflict and they react well to both good and bad news.

Learning how to resolve conflict is a really important part of being a great leader. It is all part of your communication skills, so make an effort to identify what areas you need to work on and take steps to improve on them.

The higher your emotional intelligence, the better leader you will be.

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