What comes to your mind when you imagine the ‘ideal’ leader? The ideal leader is someone who doesn’t let his temper get the better of him no matter how complicated the situation is. The ideal leader is also the person who leaves their doors open to communication with everyone and anyone in their team – they are ready to listen – they have the complete trust of their team members – and they make informed decisions keeping in mind the interests of all the people involved. Well, if you look at it generally, you won’t find anything special about these qualities, but there is more to these qualities than meets the eye. A deeper understanding would lead you to an essential quality that a leader must have in this day and age. We are talking about emotional intelligence, which is most commonly referred to as Emotional Quotient (EQ).

You can take courses and join training to develop your technical skills and move ahead in your career. But, there comes a point when your technical skills aren’t enough. At this point, you are required to showcase your leadership skills, of which EQ is a big part. In simpler words, it is man-management. You need to be emotionally involved with people you work with. By doing this, you will be able to deliver feedback, coach teams, manage stress, and collaborate more efficiently. Before we move any further, let us first understand what EQ exactly is.

What is emotional intelligence or emotional quotient?

Simply put, EQ is the ability of understanding and managing emotions, both your own as well as of the people around you. This term came into being in 1990 and was first used by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer though it was made popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman.

Goleman had this to say to the Harvard Business Review about emotional intelligence’s importance in leadership, “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.”

Goleman was right. EQ has emerged as a must-have quality that separates great leaders from ordinary ones. In research done by TalentSmart, it was found that EQ is the aptest indicator to gauge performance. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder to study the impact of EQ provided us with some interesting insights into the minds of hiring managers. Of all the employers who participated in this survey, 71 percent said that for them EQ is more important than IQ as people with a higher EQ are more likely to show empathy while responding to colleagues, stay calm under pressure, and resolve the worst of conflicts more effectively.

What is EQ in leadership?

To begin with, leaders with high EQ are considered better change agents – they are better at connecting not only with their team but anyone who has anything to do with their company. There is a huge misconception that only emotionless and ruthless leaders can get their teams to work and drive businesses forward. Everyone has a different personality and qualities. You don’t just have to portray yourself as a leader to the world; you need to be a leader from the inside. That’s how it works.
A business isn’t just about revenue generation and investments; it’s more about relationships. If you have a leader who shares a great relationship with the team, you won’t have any trouble. When you have a leader who knows how important it is to be emotionally involved with the employees, you will have more loyal employees who will happily stick with you for years on a stretch without complaining.

Leaders with high EQ see business as a love affair with their team members and other people involved. These leaders love what their work and the people they work with. These leaders lead by example, respect the values of everyone involved, build trust, are determined, are motivators, are optimistic, and are empathetic. They address the needs of their people and ensure that they do everything in their power to fulfill those needs. When you invest in leaders with a high EQ, you can expect great success in the long run.

Emotional intelligence allows leaders the power to make employees aggressively and collectively perform towards achieving a common goal. When the employees believe that their leader is on their side, they would listen to everything he says and do everything he asks them to. A great example of arguably the greatest leader in sporting history is Sir Alex Ferguson. He managed to stay at the helm at Manchester United for as long as 26 years and won everything there was to win in this period. How did he manage to do that? He was emotionally involved with every player. He managed some of the biggest egos in the sport and made them all believe that winning is a habit. No wonder he and his Manchester United teams were so successful.

Why is EQ important in leadership?

Emotionally intelligent leaders create safer working environments in which employees thrive. Employees openly communicate, share ideas, and take risks in such environments. This leads to the building of organizations that have collaborative working ingrained in their culture.

An emotionally intelligent leader has what it takes to take an organization on the path to success. When they bring about necessary changes for the betterment of the organizations and their people, they take into account the emotional standing of each and every employee and how they are going to react to those changes. They are better prepared to deal with adverse reactions.

Leaders with high EQ are so successful because they don’t take things personally. They are always thinking a step ahead and don’t allow small things to trouble their egos in the slightest. While personal vendettas between employees and leaders are amongst the most common hindrances to efficiency and productivity in organizations, emotionally intelligent leaders ensure that nothing of this sort ever happens in their teams.

There are so many organizations that continue to struggle out there, even with all the experience and technical know-how they possess. The biggest reason for their struggles is that they don’t have emotionally intelligent leaders at the helm. Organizations can enjoy several benefits when they have emotionally intelligent leaders calling shots.

  • You will see better engagement in the team. Teams that don’t go along too well or don’t go along at all with their leaders find it very hard to capitalize on the benefits of working as a team. A leader that is emotionally connected with the team will never let this happen.
  • You will have a great company culture. Organizations that think they have a great company culture are often miles away from reality. The common feeling in their employees is not the same. Experts believe that the relationship between leaders and teams only thrives when there is a culture of high trust and openness. Leaders with high EQ promote open communication, which eventually leads to the culture that organizations want to achieve.
  • High-performing employees. Employees that are trusted by their superiors and aren’t subjected to negative emotions, perform at a very high level. All these benefits that we talked about have one thing in common – emotionally intelligent leaders. These leaders manage their own energy and encourage as well as reward people displaying positive energy.

What are the 5 characteristics of emotional intelligence?

A. Self-awareness:

Self-aware people are always in sync with their emotions, and know-how their emotionally-driven actions can affect the people around them. A self-aware leader knows about his strengths and weaknesses, and also how important it is to behave with humility. Here are a few things you can do to become more self-aware:

  1. Stay calm. It is not easy when emotions are running high. But, that’s how you are going stand in a crowd of ordinary leaders as a great leader. Whenever you experience strong emotions, don’t react. Take your time and examine how you can deal with the situation in a better way.
  2. Keep a journal. Many people have used this method to improve their self-awareness. Write down your thoughts every day and analyze them. This is how you are going to reach a higher level of self-awareness.

B. Self-regulation:

Always stay in control of what you are going to say and what you are going to do. Leaders who exercise self-regulation never make emotional decisions, compromise their values, verbally attack people, and stereotype people. So, what it is that you can do to improve self-regulation?

  1. Accountability. Take accountability, never blame others. It takes a strong personality to accept mistakes knowing the consequences. But, that’s what makes a strong leader who commands respect from everyone around him.
  2. Understand your values. Spend some time knowing and understanding the values that are dear to you. Are there things you are never going to compromise on? What about your code of ethics? Finding answers to these questions will help you make correct ethical decisions and be on the right side of morality every time of asking.

C. Empathy:

Leaders with empathy are critical to managing an organization or a team the right way. Empathy lets you be in the shoes of someone else, which in this case could be employees. Leaders with this quality play a crucial role in developing the members of their team, providing constructing feedback, listening carefully to what others have to say, and challenging those who aren’t fair in their actions. If you want your team to be loyal and respectful to you, you have to empathize with them whenever required. What can you do to improve empathy?

  1. Understand the importance of body language. When you are listening to people, don’t ever behave as if you aren’t interested. You need to make them comfortable and give them the impression that you are willing to listen to them. Imagine how you would feel if someone did the same to you. Would you ever talk to them again? And listening properly and maintaining the right body language also allow you to prepare a proper response.
  2. Put yourself in their situation. Everyone can support their own point of view. It is the easiest thing in the world. But, leaders need to look at situations from different perspectives.
  3. Respond to feelings. Never let your team feel that you don’t understand how they feel. If you ask one of your team members to stay late, and they agree without sounding too happy, you shouldn’t ignore that disappointment. Tell them you are very happy to see their willingness to work extra hours. Also, if it was a last-minute call, make sure that you inform them at least a day in advance so that they are well-prepared.

D. Motivation:

Self-motivated leaders don’t need outside help perform consistently at the highest levels. They set high standards of quality and commitment for their teams. Here is what you can do to improve motivation:

  1. Find out why you are doing what you are doing. With all the demands of corporate life, you might end up forgetting what you love about your career and how excited you were about this job. If you are struggling to find out why you got into this job and why you should continue, try and get to the root of the problem to start seeing your situation in a completely new light. Make sure you keep motivating yourself by refreshing your goal statements.
  2. Find out where you currently stand. Are you motivated enough to lead a group of people? Look for resources that can help you increase your motivation. Look for things you can do to start afresh – Things that have worked wonders in the past too.
  3. Hope is the key. If you lose optimism, nothing in this world can help you find solutions to your problems. Motivated leaders never lose hope and are always prepared for the worst. They also know what they need to do to get out of that muddle. Every failure or challenge brings with itself the opportunity to look at the positive side of things. You just need to be optimistic enough to look the way that no one else is.

E. Social skills:

Leaders, who are good in social skills are often great communicators. Good news or bad news doesn’t matter to them. All they care about is getting their team ready and excited about working on a new project or achieving objectives. Leaders with these qualities are also very good at resolving conflicts and getting their team to come to terms with changes. How do you improve your social skills?

  1. Improve your communication skills. You will be able to resolve 90 percent of the issues in your team if you are an excellent communicator. Work on your communication if you want to be a good leader.
  2. Learn to resolve conflicts. If you want to be a successful leader, you need to know how you can resolve conflicts between your team members, vendors, customers, and other stakeholders.
  3. Learn to praise people. Praise people, who you think, deserve mention. There is no wrong in appreciating people’s efforts. This also makes your team loyal to you.
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