What separates a good leader from a great one? It is tempting to think that it is something like cognitive abilities or personality traits – maybe good leaders are more assertive or have exceptional problem-solving skills. But recent research suggests that the answer is Emotional Intelligence (EI), or the ability to understand and recognize emotions in oneself and others, as well as the ability to manage one’s emotions. In fact, EI is the strongest predictor of job performance and can explain almost 60% of success in all types of jobs.
This isn’t surprising, given that leaders with high EI can accomplish amazing feats that leave those with low EI lost in their dust. For instance, leaders with high EI can raise revenue margins, increase employee retention, engagement, and innovation, and decrease turnover. These leaders rely on their superior EI to effectively coach team members, create a psychologically safe workplace, make difficult decisions using objective, critical thinking, and they easily resolve conflicts. They can remain calm in times of stress, maintaining clear communication to the team, and they can stay positive and motivate the team despite challenges.
What makes EI especially important as a leadership quality today is that just about everyone is facing extra stress right now as the world emerges out of the pandemic. Nearly half of us are reporting a decline in mental health, mostly from anxiety and depression. We are finding our ‘new normal’ yet again as some return to the office while others maintain a hybrid or remote arrangement. A great leader can create a feeling of safety and value among all this chaos and serve to buffer any impacts of stress.
The best news is that EI is a skill that can be developed with practice, and arguably, can always be improved upon, even in someone who believes they have great EI. With more practice, these skills will become more natural as the brain creates new neural pathways. Here are 5 key EI skills and ways to improve each:
Self-awareness = The foundation of EI because it allows leaders to recognize their own emotions, how their emotions impact the team, as well as their strengths and weaknesses as a leader. It is a pre-requisite for self-regulation.
Self-Regulation = When leaders stay focused on goals regardless of external feedback, setbacks, or problems. They’re driven by internal factors, like reaching goals, rather than external factors like making money.
Empathy = The ability for a leader to recognize and understand how a team member is feeling and imagine the situation from their point of view.
Motivation = When leaders stay focused on goals regardless of external feedback, setbacks, or problems. They’re driven by internal factors, like reaching goals, rather than external factors like making money.
Social Skills = When leaders understand how team members think and feel and how that influences the entire team, including the ability to communicate ideas, read the room, nurture trust, and build strong relationships.
Given how important EI is for a successful workplace, know that we’re here to help leaders improve these five key skills. Please contact us at email@example.com so we can work together and create solutions that work best for you and your organization.