Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
June 24, 2021 | BY Simcha Felder
Among all the positive traits effective leaders possess, research points to one attribute that is more reliable in predicting overall business success than intelligence, toughness, determination and vision – qualities traditionally associated with leadership: emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. The term was first coined in a 1990 research paper by psychology professors John Mayer and Peter Salovey. It was later popularized in the New York Times bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, by psychologist Daniel Goleman.
Dr. Goleman highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership, telling the Harvard Business Review, “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.” In his research of nearly 200 large companies, Goleman found that the most effective leaders were those with a high degree of emotional intelligence. A person can have the best training, a brilliant mind and an endless supply of great ideas, but without developing his EI capabilities, he will still struggle to be a great leader.
Over the years, emotional intelligence has grown into a must-have skill for businesses. According to a survey by CareerBuilder.com, 71% of employers surveyed said they value EI over IQ, and report that employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively and respond to co-workers with empathy.
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned and improved. In fact, the four components of emotional intelligence are not necessarily earned through life experience, but proactively learned and developed. These components can be studied and practiced with self-paced online learning tools or at off-site workshops.
Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. Self-awareness is a critical part of emotional intelligence, and it goes beyond just recognizing these traits. It’s also about being aware of how your actions, moods and emotions can have an effect on other people. Self-aware people are honest with themselves and others. They are comfortable talking about their limitations and they often demonstrate a thirst for constructive criticism. It requires a great deal of introspection and the ability to thoughtfully consider feedback from others.
Self-Management: Those with strong self-management skills have the ability to manage their emotions, particularly in stressful situations, and maintain a positive outlook despite life’s setbacks. Leaders who lack self- management often react poorly to difficult situations and have a harder time keeping their impulses and emotions under control. A person with a high degree of self-management will find ways to control his emotional impulses and channel them in useful ways. People with strong self-management skills also tend to be flexible and adapt well to change.
Social Awareness: Social awareness in the workplace refers to the ability to recognize the feelings and emotions of others, while understanding the dynamics at play within one’s organization. Leaders who excel in social awareness usually have a great deal of empathy. They strive to understand the feelings and perspectives of others, which enables them to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Being empathetic – or having the ability to understand how others are feeling – is critical to emotional intelligence. Today, empathy is more important than ever due to the increasing use of teams in the workplace, as well as the growing need to retain talent.
Relationship Management: Relationship management skills include the ability to influence and mentor others, as well as resolve conflict effectively. Managing one’s social relationships at work often builds on the previous components of EI. People tend to be more effective at managing relationships when they can understand and control their own emotions while empathizing with the feelings of others. Relationship management is about building bonds with people, but it is also about addressing and managing conflict. It is important to properly address issues as they arise, because keeping your employees happy often means having to navigate tough and honest conversations.
The truth is that no one is born a leader. To develop into the leaders we want to become, we need to consciously work to improve ourselves. While a business leader might excel at their job on a technical level, if he or she cannot communicate or work with others effectively, those technical skills will get overlooked. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can continue to advance your organization and your career. Relationships with employees, vendors, customers and others will undoubtedly improve when led by a leader with highly developed emotional intelligence.