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In today’s workplace, it is not enough for leaders to delegate tasks, shut their doors, and expect employees to deliver their best work. Instead, effective leadership is much more dependent on the ability to recognize and manage one’s own feelings and emotions in order to better relate to those of others. Using this insight will better motivate others. This capacity to observe, control, and assess emotions is better known as emotional intelligence, and is a key component to unlocking the best performance in employees.
Why is emotional intelligence important?
Numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, retention, and performance. When leaders can perceptively be in tune with themselves and their emotions, the stars can align to help them successfully lead a dynamic team. Contrasting that, when leaders react emotionally without a filter, it can create mistrust among their staff and can seriously endanger their working relationships. Good leaders are self-aware and understand how their verbal and non-verbal communication can affect the team.
So what are the defined traits of emotionally intelligent leaders?
Leaders must exhibit a high level of self-awareness to help them manage their own emotions. Instead of reacting first, they are able to step back and observe and contemplate in order to come up with better decisions. Self-assessment also comes into play here, as those who understand who they are and what they want to improve, can always look to better themselves.
AWARENESS OF OTHERS
Emotions carry a wide array of meanings, and understanding them is crucial. If an employee is acting angry, it might mean that she is unhappy with you, or it could be she just had a bad morning at home and cannot separate the emotions. The more self-awareness leaders have, the higher their awareness of the emotions of others around them will be. This also means staying calm and neutral, to redirect negative emotions to become positive experiences.
Emotionally intelligent leaders practice active listening. This allows them to understand the content of what others are saying, and also to pick up on the feelings behind the words. The more they can relate to others, the better they will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them.
AWARENESS OF EMOTIONAL ATMOSPHERE
Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to observe the mood and feelings of their work environment by being tuned in emotionally. This allows the ability to anticipate how people are likely to react to situations, without waiting until after the damage is done. A leader needs to create order within the organization and form a unified culture with positivity at the core.
Despite obligations and hectic schedules, building and maintaining healthy and productive relationships is essential to gain higher emotional intelligence. This cannot happen with distractions, though. Leaders must have the ability to communicate effectively to accurately manage relationships. The key to this is to find common ground and know that what is said and done can have a positive or negative effect on someone.
Researchers suggest that emotional intelligence is an ability that can be learned and strengthened, so what are some ways you can boost your E-IQ?
PAY ATTENTION TO NONVERBAL SIGNALS
Start simply by paying close attention to nonverbal signals, like tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, as these will likely demonstrate more than spoken words can about a person. Studies show that effective communication is 7% the words we say and 93% tone and body language. By reading these nonverbal signals, you’ll begin to accurately perceive emotions.
1. COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY
Once you’ve identified an emotion, start responding to it by communicating directly with the person. By employing this approach, you’ll promote thinking and cognitive activity toward the person. Good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose.
2. ELIMINATE NEGATIVE STIMULI
To manage emotions of those around you, you must quickly overcome negative stimuli, like stress and anxiety. By doing this and being aware of how words and actions affect others, you will begin to regulate the emotions of those around you.
3. ACCEPT YOUR EMOTIONS
You can learn to be emotionally independent and gain the qualities that allow you to have emotional intelligence by connecting to core emotions, accepting them, and being aware of how they affect your choices and actions.
Ultimately, emotional intelligence is a catalyst in achieving goals and creating a productive workplace. The ability to control emotions while relating and reacting to those of others will improve relationships with employees, and lead to a more successful, dynamic leadership.