When corporate leaders struggle with team relationships, it’s often a question of people taking the time to understand one another. In order to overcome this common leadership challenge, it’s often helpful to take a look at a leader’s “emotional intelligence.” While companies look for intelligent, capable individuals to promote into leadership positions, sometimes awareness of emotional factors can play a huge role in how effectively that person leads a team of people.
Emotional Intelligence ( EI ) is the capacity a leader has to effectively perceive, express, understand and manage emotions in an effective and appropriate manner. Research has proven that EI is a strong predictor of success in the workplace, more so than IQ, skill sets, personality and experience. In essence, EI equals interpersonal effectiveness, and the more effective a leader is with others, the more successful that leader will be.
Enhancing and developing greater awareness and application of EI will have a significant impact on all aspects of your life, including more self-awareness and improved relationships with co-workers, family, friends and others who are significant in your life. Leaders who improve their EI capabilities are able to decrease stress, personally and professionally, enhance interpersonal relationships, and demonstrate greater leadership and decision making skills. Even more important, raising EI has a direct and positive effect on your level of consciousness. When one raises their level of awareness, they raise their energy level and their consciousness.
Here are a few tips to improve leadership skills with greater Emotional Intelligence:
1. Begin by taking notice of how your thoughts affect your emotions, and how your emotions affect your actions. Self-awareness is the key to beginning to shift your energy and increase your EI. As you go through your day, be aware of how you react to situations, and what thoughts are going through your head as you do. If someone cuts you off on the road, and your thought is, “What an idiot!” your resulting emotion would be anger. If you think instead, “Wow, he must really be in a hurry to get someplace,” your emotion would most likely be very different. As you become more self-aware, you’ll be able to identify what triggers your emotions.
2. Keep a Leadership Journal or notebook about areas to improve your awareness and expression of your emotions. What is working, and what is not working for you? What relationships need improvement? This step helps one commit as well as shows a progression of that change.
3. Journal about ways to manage and control your emotions. What has been effective for you, and what has not? How do you want to respond and how can you do so?
4. Each day, set your intention to be more aware of your thoughts/feelings and how they might affect you and/or others.
5. When a leadership struggle or situation causes you to be angry or upset, give yourself 5-10 minutes alone, prior to taking action. Then ask yourself what would be the best way to address the situation. Think about the energy level at which you would like to respond. Taking a little break will help you respond as you would like, not just go with your ‘knee-jerk’ reaction.
6. Seek out others who will assist you (maybe a mentor), objectively, in providing observations of how they experience you expressing and /or managing/controlling your emotions within leadership situations. You might be surprised at how others view you.
7. Tell others you want to increase your understanding of their thoughts and feelings and “check-in” with them periodically – this will help you become more aware of your perceptions as a leader versus the reality of their feelings.
8. After getting buy-in, think about offering feedback to those around you about their emotional awareness, expression and management.
9. Practice incorporating new leadership skills and behaviors and being aware of how others respond to you.
10. Interview others who demonstrate high EI and effective leadership techniques, to learn some of their strategies for responding to stressful situations.
11. If necessary, hire a professional coach. Coaching is about an honest, trusting, open and committed partnership designed to help you reach your goals faster, more productively and you’ll achieve greater balance in your work and life.
I hope these tips will help you focus on your understanding and your ability to monitor your own and other people’s emotions and use this emotional information to guide your thinking, behavior and relations with others.