Why You Need Emotional Intelligence

Why You Need Emotional Intelligence

As you go through life, you come into contact with all sorts of authority figures. As you take a moment to think through them; there are some who left you impacted - possibly, even changed forever. What did they do? What did they say? They certainly had the “right stuff”. As we’ve dug deeper to define said “stuff”, we can see that most impactful leaders contain a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they're feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.

For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at their team under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, says “...emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, 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.” The importance of emotional intelligence has already been underlined by a recent World Economic Forum report which predicts that it will become one of the top ten skills for employees by 2020.

Goleman has categorized the five key elements to emotional intelligence as follows:

Self Awareness - knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others.

Self-Regulation - controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods.

Motivation - relishing achievement for its own sake.

Empathy - understanding other people’s emotional makeup.

Social Skill - building rapport with others to move them in desired directions.

At first thought, where do you stand in these areas? Maybe you’re thinking these categories are hard to measure, and metrics are more important. Although, you can’t stay employed without hitting your metrics, Goleman explains that emotional intelligence plays an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the companies he analyzed. In other words, the higher the rank of the person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness!

No matter where you’d describe yourself as it relates to emotional intelligence, the best news of all is that research shows emotional intelligence can be learned through time, motivation, extended practice, commitment, and feedback.

Take the time to work on self-awareness by slowing down to take inventory of how you are coming across. Work on self-regulation by practicing being calm and knowing your values.  Understand your motivation or lack thereof by re-examining your “why”. Work on empathy by putting yourself in the other person’s position. Work on social skills by putting everything into practice in social scenarios to continue on the growth path of leadership.

How do you know where to start? Find someone you trust and ask them: “What is one thing you know about me, that I don’t know about me, that I need to know about me?” The answer may be hard to hear – and if it's not, you may need to dig deeper – but this is a great practice to start building with your team, and even to challenge the other leaders in your organization to follow.

Until next time, lead on.

The Leadr Team