While the concept of emotional intelligence has been around for quite some time, it wasn’t until the 90s, when Dr. Daniel Goldman connected the concept to business leadership, that it became known as such a powerful driving force in organizational success. He popularized the concept that emotional intelligence can matter more than IQ.
Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI or EQ, is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions while at the same time recognizing how our emotions influence others. EQ helps us develop and maintain social relationships and cope with challenges. In the workplace, leaders with high emotional intelligence can adjust their emotions and how they react to many situations so everyone can achieve their goals.
Why is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Important?
The benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace are powerful. Someone with high EQ can self-manage their emotions and behaviors. They can communicate their vision and set goals to work towards it.
Also, emotionally intelligent leaders create and contribute to psychologically safe work environments, enabling employees to share ideas, give and receive feedback, and take risks. They can manage workplace stress or conflict and teach their team to do the same. When employees demonstrate EQ, they are more likely to be engaged with their responsibilities, have higher job satisfaction, and exude higher morale for their workplace.
The Pillars of Emotional Intelligence
Goldman’s research identified five pillars of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and motivation. Mastering these components of EQ is often considered to be more important than a person’s IQ.
Emotional Intelligence Training for Leaders
Emotional intelligence is a learnable skill. With practice and intention, leaders can develop these pillars and enjoy the fruit of personal growth. Themum Crawford, TTA trainer and development consultant on the topic of EQ, explains several tips to flex this skill.
Crawford suggests a technique called The Amygdala Hijack. The amygdala is the middle part of the brain and is responsible for responding quickly to threats. It’s responsible for an overreaction or when someone is said to have lost it during an incident. To hijack this response, start by naming your feeling. It could be fear, frustration, or shame, among others. Then tap into your self-regulation skills and use the six-second rule to delay your response or reaction. Take a breath and calm down or get up and change the setting, if possible.
Journaling daily is another great method to become more conscious of thoughts and feelings. Meditation and yoga are effective ways to bring the practice of self-awareness into your life. These practices help to name your emotions, let go of negativity, and be accepting. Bringing self-awareness to our emotional responses and regulating our reactions are key to building EQ.
Regulating your emotions starts with the pause. Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow explains the power of slow thinking, especially in corporate environments. Initial responses aren’t always the most empathetic ways to communicate. While it’s good to trust your gut, we must first take time to understand what our intuition is telling us.
Practice self-regulation by pausing for several seconds, minutes, or hours before responding. Return to self-awareness practices to understand emotions before formulating a response.
Improving Social Awareness
It’s important to listen more and talk less. Listen not only with your ears but with your body language and the cues that you provide to show that you are engaged. Resist the urge to formulate your response while the other person is talking. Instead, listen to what is being said and then pause and think before responding. Consider the other person’s thoughts and feelings, even if they are different from your own. Be curious about learning something new and lean into what other people need from you.
Improving Relationship Management
We accomplish more as a team than as individuals. When we have strong working relationships with colleagues, everyone is more productive. By operating at your best, you inspire your team to do the same.
Communication and conflict resolution skills are crucial in relationships. As conflict is unavoidable, professional coaching is a powerful and effective way to strengthen these skills. Coaching is designed to give participants a toolbox of strategies that can be employed when needed.
Motivating oneself requires a connection to personal passions. When we are genuinely interested in our work, and our team’s success and growth, then we are intrinsically motivated to be a high-achiever. This could require a new position at your current company or a new job to be able to connect your desires with the company’s culture and goals. Once this is achieved, extrinsic motivation such as compensation becomes icing on the cake.
Level-Up Your Leadership Skills with Emotional Intelligence
Leaders with strong emotional intelligence can use empathy and relationship-building skills to build high-performing teams that outperform, outlast, and outshine those without. By strengthening self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, relationship building, and motivation skills, we not only improve our performance and well-being, but we inspire our teams to do the same.
Build your EQ skills by practicing thoughtful responses, listening more than you talk, accepting new ideas and thoughts, and investing in personal growth. There are many resources and tools available to help on this journey.
To learn more about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, listen to the Bring Out The Talent podcast with Themum Crawford.