How to become an emotionally intelligent leader

How to become an emotionally intelligent leader

5 crucial skills that will help you use your strengths to be highly effective in the workplace.

In the last 15 years there has been a lot of research that proves emotional intelligence has an important role to play in business leadership. Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman, who has conducted extensive research on this, stated in an article for the Harvard Business Review that, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions… Without it (emotional intelligence), a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

So what are the traits you need to develop to be an emotionally intelligent leader?

#1 Self-awareness
This is the ability to be aware of, recognise and learn from your strengths, weaknesses, emotions, motivational drivers, etc. You must accept the good and the bad in your and understand that it impact it has on those around you. To reach your full potential you must possess a better understanding of yourself, thereby developing skills that will help you manage your emotions better. Instead of reacting on the basis on your emotions, this awareness will allow you to make thought-out, practical decisions. How do you improve your self-awareness? Keeping a journal of your thoughts is also a good idea as it helps you get in tune with yourself and develop a better self-awareness.

#2 Self-regulation
This is an extension of self-awareness and is a form of self-discipline, a way of staying in control. When you’re a leader, you can’t afford to loose your cool or get panicked. So you need to learn how to get a hold of yourself and channel those disruptive emotions in a more productive manner so that you lead the team in a positive direction. To not let your emotions get the better of you, slow down the next time you feel a strong emotion, especially a negative one like anger. Stop, examine the situation and make a conscious effort to not let the emotion be the driving force in your reaction. You have learn how to choose to react to a situation.

#3 Motivation
This is an easy one to understand. The best leaders are those who are truly passionate about their work. A passion that goes beyond money, designation or accolades. This helps them move doggedly towards their goals and set high standards of excellence, for themselves as well as others. There are times when we all need some self-motivation to get us through a rough patch or out of a rut at work. At times like those, take a moment to remind yourself why you love your career, remember the fire in the belly that you had when you first started. And adopt an optimistic mindset, no matter what is thrown at you. This takes practice, but once you master the art of looking for the positive in the negative motivation will no longer be a problem.

#4 Empathy for others
Leaders who have empathy can walk in another’s shoes and understand how they feel and how they may therefore react to a particular situation. This helps leaders better motivate their team members and help them grow within the organisation. After all a leader is only as strong as his team, and it’s in your best interest to ensure you have a happy, motivated team. So pay attention to your body language (are you expressing interest or disinterest?) and ensure the message you’re sending out is a right one. And learn how to read other people’s body language to better understand how they feel.

#5 Social skills
For leaders, this especially refers to managing relationships, communicating well and building connections. Building and maintaining healthy, productive relationships is important for any managerial role. And those who communicate well are able to share their vision with others so that they are equally motivated to accomplish the task. If your team doesn’t believe in your vision as much as you do, then you’ve already lost the battle. So give praise where it is due, brush up on your communication skills and learn how to resolve conflicts. These skills will stand you in good stead.