Many business owners and supervisors today understand that their role is not just to be a manager of the company, but to be the leader of a team. That means connecting with your coworkers and direct reports on a personal, as well as a professional level. Becoming an emotionally intelligent leader takes time and commitment, but it can improve your team’s trust in you and with each other and their productivity.

Why Emotional Intelligence is Important to Leadership

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a key tool for leaders seeking to motivate their teams and resolve internal disputes. EI isn’t only for leaders – anyone can benefit from its skills – but the five aspects of emotional intelligence each provide a leg up to managers, supervisors, and business owners:

  1. Internal Motivation helps a leader stay on-task and productive in the face of distractions.
  2. Self-Regulation allows leaders to school their own emotions and navigate changes within the business or conflict between team members.
  3. Self-Awareness helps leaders understand their own feelings, and better understand how their behaviors are perceived by others, including their own team members, to predict their responses.
  4. Empathy enables leaders to perceive and understand their team members’ feelings and reactions, making them easier to address.
  5. Social Awareness improves leaders’ communication with their team and helps them understand group dynamics and interpersonal conflicts.

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Cool-Headed Leadership Depends on High Emotional Intelligence

Leadership comes with a great deal with stress, both on practical and inter-personal levels. Resolving workplace conflict between team members and maintaining the company’s deadlines and bottom lines can strain your skills and coping mechanisms. Emotional intelligence allows you to better handle the stress that comes with leadership. The techniques learned when becoming an emotionally intelligent leader can help you recognize, process, and move on from high-intensity emotions and help your team members do the same.

Get Help Becoming an Emotional Intelligent Leader

Emotional intelligence centers on the ability to understand and communicate with the people around you. This makes it an essential skill for business and organizational leaders. But it isn’t something that is traditionally taught in business school. So how can you become an emotionally intelligent leader?

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be taught. Different people enter the workforce with different levels of EI, but that entry level is just a baseline upon which to grow. Leaders seeking to improve their emotional intelligence can work with an executive and leadership coach to measure their current emotional quotient (another name for EI) and develop skills to improve in the five core areas. This may involve several steps:

Becoming Conscious of Weaknesses

Every leader has blind spots – areas where they are not as skilled as they might like, but they do not recognize the need for improvement. Becoming an emotional intelligent leader starts with a self-assessment, facilitated by a leadership coach, to measure your current EI skill level and identify areas of growth. This assessment will also identify your underappreciated emotional strengths, allowing you to make better use of your new emotional vocabulary.

Develop Emotional Intelligence Skills and Techniques

With your baseline established, your leadership coach can help you to develop emotional intelligence skills and techniques, building your competency in each of the four areas. This could mean practicing self-regulation and self-reflection techniques, learning to identify your team members’ emotions, or receiving training to facilitate interpersonal disputes. By committing to practice, you will learn to flex your emotional intelligence muscles, growing stronger in your empathy and management skills over time.

Measuring Your Employees’ Emotional Temperature

Once you understand the benefit of using emotional intelligence in your leadership, you can use your newly developed skills to observe your employees’ emotions and use them as a gauge for the health of your team. Teams work better when they are encouraged to authentically express their emotions in a professional and solution-oriented way. By identifying and acknowledging your employees’ emotions, you can get additional feedback from them and begin the process of building emotional trust.

Using Emotional Intelligence to Build a Collaborative Working Environment

Beyond the personal benefit, the goal of becoming an emotionally intelligent leader is to use the skills developed with their executive coach to improve team function and collaboration. Trust is at the core of every functioning team. But undoing a history of hostility and building trust requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. As you hone your own skills, you and your leadership coach can take the next step to model healthy emotional vulnerability, transparency, and conflict resolution in front of your team. By establishing new social norms, you can help build a collaborative working environment based on the emotional intelligence skills your have developed as a leader.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience in resolving organizational dysfunction. Through business consulting and facilitation, David helps businesses and teams improve productivity and workplace culture. Contact us to meet with David to move toward high organizational functioning today.