Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It manifests in your ability to smartly incorporate your emotions in regular work tasks like thinking and problem-solving. As a leader, it comes in handy when you need to help your team understand and express their emotions or when you need to foster good relationships and solve problems under pressure. Emotionally intelligent leaders have a few traits in common. Here are some of them:
They are empathetic
According to the Wall Street Journal, 20% of employers now offer empathy training as it has become one of the biggest leadership skills needed today. Being able to listen and respond with empathy is an interaction skill that outshines all other skills. When you’re empathetic, you know how to trust and appreciate your employees, which in turn makes them more loyal. They’re more likely to be engaged and you will also see improved teamwork as well. When you demonstrate empathy as a leader, it passes down to your team and helps decrease staff conflict.
They have self-control
Emotional self-control matters because it allows you to be an effective leader regardless of stressful situations. It allows you to pull the team together when circumstances do not go according to plan. If you constantly let your feelings get in the way of your goals, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or worse, alienate your team.
They are authentic
Authentic leaders inspire trust, confidence, and loyalty because they’re not afraid to express themselves honestly. Lamson Consulting President and CEO Melissa Lamson believes authentic leaders are not afraid to ask difficult questions and take actions based on what they hear. Lamson cites SAP Brazil president Cristina Palmaka as one of the best examples. “I found her wonderful because she shared her fears, likes, dislikes, and own leadership path with the group in a very open and honest way. She is highly influential because of this authenticity,” Lamson said. This more human management approach is being reflected in how future leaders are developed. An extensive feature on organizational leadership by Maryville University notes that leaders need to connect to the human side of organizations in order to act as an effective change agent. Being authentic takes a lot of hard work and experience, especially since it requires you to be honest with yourself.
They are good listeners
Self-awareness and listening are closely linked together. Very Well Mind’s list of effective ways to be an emotionally intelligent leader includes listening and communicating effectively. This means providing enough, if not plenty of opportunities for one-on-one communication with members of your team. Emotionally intelligent leaders always keep lines of communication open and they ensure that group members feel that they are able to make valuable contributions. Being a good listener also means hearing more than what your team is saying – it is about reading between the lines too.
They genuinely care
Ultimately, you’re the one who decides how you want your employees to see you. Some leaders make the mistake of being stoic, distant, and disconnected, while some make the mistake of being too friendly. You have to find the balance between the two and that’s where genuine care can help you. Relate to them as equals and don’t act as if they serve you or you’re above them. The key is to let your team know and feel that you don’t just look at them as a bunch of workers.
Emotional intelligence is just as indispensable as technical knowledge. Working to develop how you handle your emotions takes you a step closer to being an effective leader.
This is a guest post written by Janice Jenner