What Is Emotional Intelligence in Leadership? (Benefits and Tips)
Updated September 6, 2023
There's a growing realization of the importance of relationships and morale in leadership. As a result, there's a greater focus on leaders' emotional intelligence and its function within a team. Understanding emotional intelligence in leadership can help you function more effectively as a team leader or supervisor. In this article, we discuss what emotional intelligence is, outline its benefits for leaders, examine features of emotional intelligence, and provide tips for improving it.
What is emotional intelligence in leadership?
Emotional intelligence in leadership is the ability to understand your emotions and those of others and use that knowledge to inform your interactions as a leader. Emotional intelligence is beneficial for leaders, as their role involves managing the dynamics of others. Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to inspire others, manage expectations, and resolve conflicts. More importantly, they're able to manage their personal biases and prevent their ego or emotions from interfering with productivity. Emotional intelligence also includes internal structures like discipline, which can help leaders perform effectively in their roles.
Benefits of emotional intelligence for leaders
Here are some benefits you can enjoy from focusing on your own emotional intelligence:
Workplace conflicts often arise due to miscommunication and refusal to compromise. As a leader, emotional intelligence helps you avoid such conflicts by understanding how to communicate with each individual. Emotionally intelligent leaders prioritize their goals and relationships with their team members. As a result, they're less likely to allow ego or personal biases to interfere with their work. This enables leaders to understand the grievances of their associates and resolve them effectively, reducing the chances of a conflict.
Emotionally intelligent leaders understand and respect the emotions of others. As a result, they're usually more likable and inspire confidence from their colleagues and associates. Emotional intelligence also helps reduce the incidence of conflict, leaving more time for leaders to bond with their team members and strengthen those relationships. Having a good relationship with team members makes it easier to give feedback, hold team members accountable, and motivate them to meet their goals.
When leaders are emotionally intelligent, they empathize with their team members and prioritize their relationships. As a result, they're usually more concerned with the welfare of team members and make an effort to ensure everyone remains satisfied. By showing empathy and concern, you communicate to your team members that they're important. This can build trust, as they have confidence in you to protect their interests and rights. When team members trust their team leader, they're more likely to dedicate themselves to team tasks.
Emotional intelligence enables you to communicate with each team member appropriately. As you can empathize with them, you also have greater insight into their strengths and areas of improvement. This can enable you to assign roles more effectively. It also helps you know how to supervise each team member to achieve the best results. This allows the team to focus on the task at hand, leading to greater productivity.
Improves personal image
Emotionally intelligent leaders promote a healthy work environment by being positive. They also inspire confidence from their team members, making it easier to motivate action. In turn, this makes them more likely to achieve results, improving their portfolio and qualifying them for more significant leadership roles. Emotionally intelligent leaders also develop a reputation for being trustworthy, fair, and considerate. This promotes a good relationship with their team members, colleagues, and company executives, who may be more likely to recommend you for further opportunities.
Features of emotional intelligence
Here are some features of an emotionally intelligent person:
Self-awareness is the ability to understand yourself. It's one of the essential features of emotional intelligence, as it involves knowing your strengths, areas of improvement, emotions, and values. Self-awareness helps you understand how you feel and why you feel that way. This makes it easier for you to manage your emotions and control how you respond to people, situations, or events. Self-awareness is a skill that you can develop over time by constantly reflecting on your emotions and actions. Knowing how various external factors affect you helps you prepare for them and manage your reactions.
Effective communication is the ability to exchange information with others effectively. This attribute includes speaking, writing, and listening. It also includes the ability to understand non-verbal cues. Being able to communicate effectively helps you understand others, which aids empathy. It also helps ensure you can communicate with team members clearly and motivate them to improve performance. Beyond knowing how to communicate, effective communication also involves knowing what and what not to say. It encompasses politeness and considering the background of your recipient to structure your message effectively.
Self-discipline is the same as self-management or regulation. It refers to the ability to hold yourself accountable for your actions, principles, values, and goals. With self-discipline, you can motivate yourself to remain committed to your work, complete tasks, and meet deadlines. Leaders with self-discipline are more determined and are likely to persevere through challenges. They also tend to manage their time and resources more effectively. Self-discipline also makes it easier to control your emotions.
Social awareness is the knowledge of managing interactions with others and responding to various social situations. It involves attributes like politeness, empathy, and respect. Being a socially aware leader can help you inspire greater confidence and respect from your team members. It's essential for facilitating open communication, as you know the appropriate way to communicate with others. Social awareness is also vital to help you manage relations between your team members, making you better equipped to identify rising conflict and avoid or resolve it effectively.
Relationship management is the ability to create and sustain professional relationships. This includes managing conflict, setting boundaries, coaching team members, and influencing others. It encompasses managing the relationship between yourself, your team members, and the rest of the company. Effective relationship management requires excellent communication skills, empathy, mutual respect, and trustworthiness. Leaders who can manage relationships typically encounter less resistance in executing their ideas and leading a team.
Tips for improving emotional intelligence
Here are some tips you can follow to improve your emotional intelligence as a leader:
One of the most effective tips to understand people better is to listen properly and actively. This involves paying attention to their words, writing, and non-verbal cues. It also involves understanding what the person is trying to communicate by gaining more insight into their personality and background. Active listening helps leaders better understand their team members and determine how to engage them.
Practise interacting with others more often
The best way to develop your social skills is through consistent practice. By frequently socializing with others, you can better know the appropriate ways to engage people. Socialization also exposes you to various social situations and can help you learn how to handle them. You can improve your interactions by participating in professional and extracurricular events. You can also participate in work activities to become familiar with your colleagues.
Become more aware of politeness
Politeness involves treating others with respect. It's one of the virtues of an emotionally intelligent leader, as it entails empathy and compassion. To be respectful, it's essential you understand your team members' background, experiences, and boundaries. While you can improve your social awareness and politeness, it's possible to disrespect others unintentionally. In such cases, apologize sincerely and make an effort to not repeat the action.
Reflect on your progress
Self-reflection can be essential for developing self and social awareness. Understanding your temperament and values makes it easier to manage your interactions with others. It's equally important you reflect on your interactions with others, as doing so can help you identify mistakes in your actions and resolve them for future interactions. Try reserving a daily or weekly period to reflect on the progress you've made so far in focusing on your emotional intelligence.
Make prioritizing relationships a top goal
As a leader, it's natural to worry about results, as that's your responsibility. But while focusing on results, you can prioritize and sustain relationships. This helps to guarantee the long-term functionality and stability of the team, which can help ensure greater productivity.
The best way to improve any skill or trait is to get feedback from those around you. You can speak to team members individually or as a group and ask about what they feel you can do better as the leader. Then, ensure you take their feedback seriously and implement it in the future. This helps team members feel valuable, which can improve morale.
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