Leadership and Management

What does emotional intelligence in leadership look like?

A person who is often viewed as a great leader is someone who is able to handle situations in a calm and professional manner. These people tend to gain respect from the people around them. They are not the ones who easily lose their temper and lash out during a stressful situation. This is actually a sign of someone who is emotionally intelligent.

What is emotional intelligence?

An individual with high emotional intelligence is someone who has the ability to recognize, understand, use and regulate their emotions effectively. Emotional intelligence in leadership can look like someone who is able to manage stressful and pressured situations in the most calm way possible without affecting others in the situation due to their ability to think clearly, a crucial skill a leader should have. A leader with this trait would not let emotions cloud their decision-making process and use logic to ease and solve situations effectively.

There are five components that make up emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman, an author who wrote the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to recognize the emotion coming to surface and understand the root cause or triggers that make the uncomfortable emotion present
  • Self-regulation: the ability to handle and respond to emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a manner that is acceptable and aligned with one’s intention.
  • Motivation: the ability to fulfill one’s own needs and desire to achieve goals
  • Empathy: the ability to form compassion and understanding towards a situation
  • Social skills: the ability to communicate effectively to build trust and cooperate with others to manage the situation in a smooth manner

Why is it important?

Emotional intelligence can make leaders more effective in handling difficult situations, which could have a positive impact on themselves and others. To think simply, we absolutely do not want our daily lives to be affected by those who are having a bad day. Not only will we view the other person as bad since they do not care about how their emotions could have a big impact on others, but there is also no way we are able to calm them down when they are in a whirlwind of emotions.

There are a few reasons why leaders need to regulate their emotions better, such as to ease the decision-making process, avoid unnecessary conflict that could disrupt daily work operations, build strong relationship among the team members, improve communication with the team members in the organization and motivate the team to easily reach their goals.

How do you build emotional intelligence?

By using all the components, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivations and empathy, one could achieve a state where they are able to handle difficult situations effectively. Building self-awareness may require hard work and effort, which could also take time but be possible to do. Not running away from one’s self is the key to building self-awareness. Sleeping away your problems is not the solution, and many people make mistakes by doing this. When you wake up, the problem does not go away. The only way is to face yourself head-on. One should be able to sit still with themselves for a long period of time. This can be done by doing mindful activities such as meditation, yoga, cooking, walking and journaling.

To self-regulate yourself better, you can start by recognizing your emotions and accepting them. By accepting the emotions, you are validating them and not dismissing them, which in turn would reduce the negative emotions. Validating your emotions is an act of self-soothing when feelings threaten to overwhelm you. Then, motivation is one of the components that is often overlooked. You tend to have a goal in mind that will make you more motivated. When someone is motivated, they tend to have positive feelings, which in turn will suppress other negative feelings in their mind and give them an optimistic view of a situation.

Lastly, there is empathy. Building empathy requires self-awareness, and only then can one have it. Active listening and paying attention to emotions will increase emotional intelligence. Paying attention to emotions involves recognizing and understanding both your own emotions and the emotions of other people. It’s about being in tune with emotional signals and responding appropriately. This can lead to better interpersonal relationships, improved communication, and a greater ability to empathize with and support others.

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