Mr Emotional Intelligence
November 6, 2023
A leader can be the most technically brilliant technician in the business, but if nobody wants to be around them, you're in trouble.
It is all too easy for an organisation to undervalue emotional intelligence due to a misunderstanding of what it means and how it can benefit organisational efficiency, quality and productivity, as well as employee engagement and emotional wellbeing.
Too many see technical competence as the only requirement for a successful leader, underestimating or completely overlooking the importance of skills such as self- awareness, flexibility, reality testing, stress tolerance and empathy when it comes to leading people.
Here are just some of the ways emotionally intelligent leaders can benefit their teams and organisation.
When it comes to setting the team’s standards of behaviour, transparency and skill, all eyes are on the leader. How the leader acts, communicates, and makes decisions, sends signals to the team members about how they too should behave. If the leader does not understand this, or know how to use their influence positively – s/he risks creating an unhealthy emotional climate in the workplace that disables rather than enables their team and organisation's ability to operate and perform at or near its best.
Managing The Stresses And Strains
Some people manage stress better than others, but this is not innate and a leader can learn how to manage the pressures they face in a more productive and healthy way. Those leaders who handle stress better do so because they have the self-awareness to notice when they are beginning to feel stressed, and thus, with balanced impulse control and reality testing, can intentionally step back and find a way to mitigate the effects before they fall into ‘survival mode.’ Failing to step back, and early, can not only lead to poor quality decision-making and unpredictable behaviour, especially when emotionally charged, but also develop a workplace where the emotional climate is not conducive to effective working, communication or value creation.
Willingness To Initiate The Tough Conversations
However uncomfortable it may be for a leader to step into a new relationship with team members that used to be peers, these discussions are a key part of creating the shared understanding and productive relationships. These conversations are necessary for a leader and their team to carry out their roles effectively, both individually and collectively. The ability to confidently initiate hard conversations and navigate them successfully is a skill that requires emotional intelligence in order to communicate and cooperate effectively with others.
A successful leader needs to be able to both respond effectively to setbacks as well as anticipate potential problems before they arise. An emotionally intelligent leader considers both the best and worst-case scenarios that could arise and prepares in advance to prevent or mitigate any issues. S/he does not demonstrate a 'gung ho' or overly positive or negative outlook to a situation, more a realistically optimistic outlook. This outlook balances opportunities with risks, therefore a more comprehensive understanding of a situation can lead to more prudent decision making and action. The emotionally intelligent leader sees a setback for what it is. A setback. Not a signal that s/he and their team should stop trying to achieve the outcome they were focused on.
As well as ensuring efficiency and productivity for the organisation, it is a leader’s responsibility to look after their team. Therefore, it is essential that a manager can support each team member’s varying needs. In the time of remote working especially, it is important for a manager to have empathy and understand how team members may be feeling working without in-person contact. A leader should also be flexible enough to adjust their own working style to provide more regular contact to those who would benefit from it.