Emotional Intelligence In The Context of Leadership
Emotional intelligence is perhaps one of the things we absolutely should not underestimate when it comes to leadership and management.
What comes to your mind whenever you hear intelligence? Take a moment right now and try to let your mind wander. We often focus on intelligence in our daily lives, trying constantly our best to reach a certain threshold or fill the word with meaning.
Perhaps the very first associations that come to mind whenever we refer to intelligence have to do with logic, analytical thinking, knowledge, IQ, and expertise in a particular field. Of course, all these skills and competencies are indeed aspects of intelligence. But is that all? Do they help us gather the full perspective? Is there more to intelligence than just a dazzling brain?
We often tend to draw a line between logical/analytical thinking and knowledge and feelings, emotions, empathy, and communication. At some point down the road, we’ve come to terms that being intelligent simply means being knowledgable and well-educated. From then we easily ban emotions and emotional expressions as acts that are too subjective and are certainly not a good place for decision-making. But are they really? What about emotional intelligence?
Today, as more and more people find themselves drawn to leadership and management, I believe it’s more important than ever for us to start paying attention to emotional intelligence. After all, it allows us to be better communicators and listeners — and those are two aspects of leadership that won’t be leaving the picture anytime soon.
Welcome to today’s article as I’m about to discuss emotional intelligence in the context of leadership.
What is emotional intelligence and why does it matter so much?
Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Intelligence in general is the individual’s capacity to learn, understand, express ideas, plan, deal with knowledge and emotions, communicate, and solve conflicts and all kinds of turbulent situations.
A mistake we often implement is that we focus way too much on the analytical part of it all, forgetting and often missing that there’s more to intelligence. In our day-to-day, whether in our personal endeavors or professional aspirations, we often need to showcase other aspects of intelligence that have to do less with logic and more with emotions and how we deal with them.
Being emotionally intelligent means that an individual can effortlessly observe and name not only their own emotions but those of others as well. This is closely connected to empathy — empaths are people who are very good at understanding why someone feels a certain way and even show capabilities of almost feeling similar emotions.
In addition to this, emotional intelligence also allows us to handle our emotions and reactions to various types of situations in the best way possible. Essentially, it gives us wisdom and resilience — two crucial qualities in leadership as well.
Perhaps you’re already taking my point — is it even possible for a leader to be good at what they do without being emotionally intelligent and mature?
But there’s a reason for this rhetorical question — we live in a society that believes that emotions should be restrained whenever it comes to business. The truth is that emotions are incredibly important since they give us the chance to express ourselves and bond with others — it’s the way we choose to showcase them that matters in business (and in pretty much every area of our lives).
Stopping yourself from feeling and letting emotions flow is highly detrimental to human nature, not to mention way too unhealthy and ingenuine. Instead, if we learn how to observe, investigate and communicate our emotions properly, we’d soon witness great success in pretty much every aspect of life, the professional one included.
Imagine leadership without emotional intelligence and you’ll quickly arrive at the “Burnout” station
The Internet is filled with guidelines and pieces of advice on successful leadership starting from productivity hacks and how to enhance one’s work ethic.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — as a matter of fact, all those aspects of self-improvement prove to be our golden ticket toward successful leadership and management.
What we should not forget, however, is maintaining and developing our emotional intelligence. In leadership, emotions do kick in quite often — we all can be late for work (rather frustrating); a coworker may have failed to deliver the needed results (perhaps a sign of disappointment?); a client may have expressed discontent with our job (I bet it feels quite discouraging!); there might be consistent and energy-draining quarrels and fights among the team members (confusion and overwhelm come into the picture); etc. You get the point.
Working with people is by all means closely connected to feeling all sorts of emotions. It also challenges us to find the most appropriate and fruitful way to express how we feel, as well as to understand others and communicate their needs and wishes adequately.
Without emotional intelligence, we can find it hard to show empathy which is a sure sign the team may start feeling isolated and abandoned in their struggles.
In leadership, emotional intelligence helps you to:
- be more self-aware — when you are emotionally intelligent, you know your emotions very well and find it easy to distinguish them. That’s important because knowing your emotions lets you find the best ways to express them. You know that in business a leader can rarely allow their emotions to control them to the point when they cause disturbance and discomfort in the team. So being self-aware of your emotions and reactions is actually an important asset of self-development — you can foresee an emotion and channel it through healthier expressions while at work.
- emotional intelligence helps you be aware of your surroundings — a leader is in charge of their team. So being aware of your surroundings is actually closely connected to being able to tell how your employees feel at any given moment throughout the day. Reading facial expressions, showing empathy, and engaging in honest conversations are surely good ways to help people feel better and deal with their emotional triggers in a healthy and productive way.
- it’s the easiest way to self-manage your own personal triggers — a leader should be someone who is resilient and always there for their employees. Emotional intelligence gives you the power to self-manage your emotions whenever you witness a triggering situation. This doesn’t mean not letting your feelings flow; it just means observing them for what they are and finding better alternatives for when you are at work among the team members. Later, you can use some quality alone time to self-reflect and deal with the raw emotion so that it doesn’t bottle up and make you explode sometime later on.
Emotional intelligence is incredibly important not only in business but in general in life.
Anyone who wishes to build a successful career in leadership and management should start paying attention to their emotional intelligence levels. Knowing our emotions, learning how to get the best of them, educating ourselves on empathy, and managing others’ emotions the best way possible are sure skills that would incredibly help us in all our business achievements.