Over the years, emotional intelligence has evolved into a must have skill for any successful leader.
Research has shown that those who lead with emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to colleagues with empathy.
And, let’s face it, has there ever been a more important time to tap into and further develop and practice emotional intelligence?
The impact of Covid-19 was felt by everyone, and has a left a lasting legacy for many. Now, the war in Ukraine and the rising cost of living are causing genuine fear for so many – so modern, effective leadership needs to embody valued qualities such as empathy and understanding.
There key four pillars for emotional intelligence.
A leader’s ability to understand strengths and weaknesses and recognise the impact emotions have on personal and wider team performance.
Working with colleagues who aren’t self-aware can cut a team’s success in half, lead to increased stress and decreased motivation, which in turn, impacts productivity, performance, and profits.
A leader’s ability to manage their emotions – particularly in stressful situations.
Leaders who lead with emotional intelligence tend to maintain a positive outlook despite setbacks, while those who don’t tend to react too quickly and focus on the negatives.
A leader’s ability to read a room.
Leaders who lead with emotional intelligence recognise others’ emotions and the dynamics of certain relationships. They’re excellent at practicing empathy and strive to understand their colleagues’ feelings and perspectives, which enables them to communicate and collaborate more effectively with their peers.
A leader’s ability to influence, coach, and mentor others, and resolve conflict effectively.
A leader with emotional intelligence won’t shy away from conflict because they know how important it is to address issues quickly. They know that not addressing something can lead to unease and foster confusion and even resentment among teams.
Why is this important?
Leaders set the tone for their business and employees will emulate the workplace behaviours, skills, and attitudes they see around them. Those who lead with a lack of emotional intelligence tend to see the consequences in lower engagement and a higher staff turnover rate across their organisation.
This, in turn, impacts overall productiveness and profitability.
Just as change can cause inner conflict and fear for an individual, leadership ‘at the top’ needs to embody empathy and understanding. Being sensitive to others’ feelings, valuing harmony, yet being happy to explore conflict are all key attributes.
Listening to colleagues plus an ability to resonate with them, helps boost staff morale and unlock their potential, to get the best out of them.
Many leaders underestimate the power of using their emotional intelligence, thinking it as a ‘soft’ approach. However, anyone in any doubt as to its effectiveness only needs to look to the great adventurers of our time to study the common traits. Adventurers and explorers demonstrate all the same qualities of emotionally intelligent leadership of their teams because they know this is the most effective way to keep their teams safe, focussed, and productive.
So whether in a boardroom, or navigating the wilds with an expedition team, emotionally Intelligent leaders tend to also be great leaders of change and innovation because they know connecting with others is essential.
How to become more Supportive:
- Be authentic and transparent, showing a genuine interest in others. This will help develop trust and meaningful relationships with your people. Showing vulnerabilities can support this, as colleagues will recognise themselves in you – see you are ‘human’.
- Listen to your people and show empathy. Recognise different perspectives to understand where people are coming from, even if you do not agree or like what they say. Accept their different perspectives and take them seriously. You don’t have to ‘go’ with their suggestions but do provide the reasons why you will/won’t be acting on their feedback.
- Be self-aware of how you feel, understanding how your feelings and actions can affect other people around you. Be self-regulatory by keeping your emotions in check to prevent inappropriate behaviours/comments, to stay committed to your personal accountability to other people.