A person’s emotional intelligence can be one of the most critical skills in being a successful leader. The workplace can be stressful, with pressure, anxiety, and even drama happening at any time. However, these negative feelings can be transformed into positive ones when handled appropriately by leaders with high emotional intelligence. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are likelier to be effective in their jobs. They are better communicators, problem-solvers, and managers because they have the primary skills required for those tasks and a deeper understanding of themselves, their team, and how their words and actions impact success.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) in the workplace is a critical leadership skill contributing toward an inclusive environment. You can recognize and channel your emotions constructively. In addition, your EI determines how well you handle your professional and personal relationships. Emotional intelligence is now a globally recognized term that focuses on:
- Acknowledging and controlling your sentiments
- Gauging how others feel
- Evaluating the extent of others’ vehemence
- Utilizing emotions for social communication
- Creating a relatable experience based on shared feelings
Experts associate emotional intelligence with improved mental health and heightened job satisfaction, and high EI has been shown to correlate to a bigger paycheck. The World Economic Forum even included emotional intelligence as one of the top 10 professional skills required for success in the workplace in 2020 and beyond. These points leave no doubt that emotional intelligence is essential in the workplace.
5 Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
As an entrepreneur, I have found that learning the tenets of emotional intelligence has helped me become a better leader. As a result, I consciously practice the five fundamental elements of emotional intelligence as outlined in Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence:
Harvard Business Review notes that 95% of people believe they’re self-aware, but only 10–15% are. Practicing self-awareness can be tricky. But once you’re self-aware, you begin to notice your behavioral patterns and can identify your emotional states as they arise. Achieving a higher level of self-awareness allows you to see the impact of your emotions and actions on others. This knowledge enables you to understand your weaknesses, strengths, and triggers.
People with high emotional intelligence know when to reveal their emotions and restrain them. If you self-regulate these reactions, you can give appropriate attention to every situation and avoid emotional outbursts. You can release, pause, orient, and unwind your impulses. Managing your emotions helps you cope with difficult situations, manage conflict, ease tension, and balance with changes in your surroundings. Channel your inner strengths to manage emotions, and you can ace self-regulation.
Empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. To empathize with others, you must understand the position they are in and what they may be feeling. Strong empathic skills allow you to be socially aware and more welcoming of diverse perspectives. In addition, empathy helps you understand people and their circumstances to be more understanding and compassionate.
Emotionally intelligent people are driven to succeed and have an intense thirst for personal growth. Their development inspires them, and they take pleasure in learning more. Motivated individuals are also great leaders with positive attitudes who inspire and pump up their team members. They are willing to go the extra mile to help their team succeed.
Honing your social skills is indispensable for a team working spirit. These skills include active listening, maintaining eye contact, positive body language, and transparent verbal communication. As a team player, you should stay aware of other people’s needs during conversations or conflict management. You can get desirable results from your teammates to foster a healthy workspace by tweaking your demeanor.
Importance and Benefits of the High EI Employees
Emotional intelligence can significantly affect one’s stress levels and success in life. When I started boosting my emotional intelligence, I noticed an impact on all aspects of my life. Emotional intelligence in teams and leaders helps to:
- Build strong interpersonal relationships in the workplace
- Be open to healthy criticism and improve as per feedback.
- Maintain positive interactions with stakeholders, supervisors, team members, and customers
- Understand nonverbal communication effectively
- Motivate the team to achieve targets
- Navigate high-pressure situations like strict deadlines or heated arguments
- Identify points of compromise and discuss them politely
- Recognize personal triggers and steer clear of them
- Self-regulate emotions to avoid emotional distress at work
How to Encourage Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?
Some people are naturally gifted with emotional intelligence, but it must be developed for others. You can strengthen your emotional intelligence through constant work in its direction. Start by taking control of your emotional response to every situation. The next time you feel an emotion getting out of hand, take time to analyze it and think about whether or not the circumstance truly warrants such a reaction. In this way, you practice self-awareness and self-regulation while polishing your social skills. Encourage this practice in all your team members and watch their emotional intelligence expand. Stay in the present, and don’t let your thoughts wander to the past or future. Practice mindfulness and civil discourse to boost the emotional intelligence of your workforce. Focus on:
- Enabling cross-functional collaboration
- Identifying your emotional weaknesses
- Inculcating empathy and compassion in your team
- Keeping aside some ‘me-time’ to analyze situations empathically
- Exercising emotional intelligence daily
- Reviewing team members’ emotional intelligence
- Offering training solutions for self-awareness
Emotional intelligence can give you an edge in the workplace. You can develop your emotional intelligence by measuring your emotional responses and ability to understand others’ emotions. EI can help you excel in high workplace tension, conflicts arise, and leadership fails. The ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the feelings of others, is critical for successful leadership. Therefore, train your brain daily to use emotional intelligence. Once you have mastered EI, it will become second nature to you.