Never discount the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Some people are born with traits that make them natural “leaders.” Others learn leadership qualities for various reasons. In both cases, emotional intelligence is more of an essential part of the puzzle than people give it credit for. Even in supervisory training, you find that the other aspects of managing people seem to get a greater focus.
So, why is emotional intelligence important? The basic answer is that emotions are one of the biggest things that make people human. If you discount them when you interact with your subordinates, you unknowingly begin to treat people as if they are less than human. People are not robots, and there are people and stories behind each employee. Leadership and emotional intelligence go hand in hand, and that is why those who have high emotional intelligence make the most effective leaders.
The Components of Emotional Intelligence
Forget everything you knew about leadership for a moment. If you do not, deriving the benefits of emotional intelligence is going to be a tough task for you. Do not take this to mean that the other aspects are unimportant. For example, you still need to be on the ball with a bulk office furniture order if each employee needs a new height adjustable standing desk to work comfortably. However, that is not the focus right now.
Currently, it is all about having the ability to speak and act based on your emotional intellect. These components should help you greatly:
You must be able to motivate a remote team as well as you can a physical one. However, it begins with self-motivation. Imagine having a bottle of water and having a subordinate ask you to fill his cup. This is only possible because you have that bottle.
If you had no water and were asked for some, you would have a problem granting the request. Motivation works in the same way. You cannot inspire it in others unless you have it yourself, and finding it means understanding your “why.” Why are you at work? Why are you leading this team? What are you hoping to achieve?
However, you are not meant to achieve this by becoming a slave driver. Try developing a good work relationship and a healthy emotional connection first, and people are going to want to be better because of you.
Social skills are also important in leading from an emotional standpoint. Leading involves other people, so mastering interaction is an asset. How are you going to get your team excited about a project or prospect if you don't even know how to communicate with them most effectively?
Subordinates are going to tell you things that you may or may not want to hear at times. Regardless of what side of the fence the information falls on, you need to remember to maintain your balance and respond with confidence.
Strong leadership motivates people, but only if the leader has respect and admiration.
Even beyond just being a leader, self-awareness is one of the biggest detractors from personal development. If you cannot grasp self-awareness, you are incapable of understanding the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. That is because all you are left with is a tone-deaf approach to the way you operate.
Being self-aware means understanding how you feel and operate, while understanding and maintaining a balance with the effect you have on others through your actions and feelings. It means understanding where you shine and where you need some more work. Additionally, you should never lose sight of humility.
A good leader can never practice parochialism, but should do team empathy. If your view is narrow-minded and you refuse or are unable to see things from another perspective, you have defeated yourself and are unable to understand emotional intelligence in leadership. Empathy allows you to consider unique perspectives and effectively support others. You would be surprised at the ideas and benefits that the company can gain from taking this route.
When you find yourself in a position of authority, it is very easy to cross the line and start abusing your power without even realizing it. Leadership and privilege go hand in hand, but a lack of self-regulation means subordinates start to feel truly disadvantaged because of the presence of the said privilege.
When you achieve emotional intelligence in leadership, the healthy connection you have with others helps you to keep yourself in check for their sake. Additionally, you practice accountability, which allows people to develop a greater and healthier respect for you and whatever authoritative role you may have in the company.
Examples of Leaders Who Are Not Emotionally Intelligent
Many leaders have come and gone who grasp or completely did not get the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Two of the biggest examples of this issue are Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Make no mistake, as these two individuals do not have the same principles, nor are their actions on the same scale.
However, there are some areas of commonality that show disregard for emotions. The first is that both men are known to need to always be right. Next, you do not have to look too hard to find a sense of obliviousness to other people's feelings. While there may have been exceptions, emotional intelligence is not something that you should apply to some and not others. Of course, this problem led to very insensitive behavior.
Recommendations for Leaders to Improve Emotional Intelligence
What can you do as a leader to improve your emotional intelligence towards remote workers or physical ones? You have seen the five components of the principle above, so your job would be to understand and implement all five effectively. Here are some actionable ways in which you can do so:
- Take personal development courses along with supervisory management ones.
- Continuously remind yourself that you do not always understand others, just as they may not understand you.
- Allow yourself to become more comfortable taking ideas and effective feedback from others.
- Understand that it is OK and possible to address someone going through rough emotions without feeling them yourself.
- Take the interest to talk to people enough to understand what they respond to positively and negatively.
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