While your IQ may have helped you to get to your current leadership role, it is your emotional intelligence that will get you promoted again and recognised for your ability to develop your team or organisation to a high performing one.
The good news? While we all must play the IQ cards we are dealt, Emotional Intelligence can be improved. There are many definitions and interpretations of Emotional Intelligence (EI). The basis of all definitions though is that it is related to human emotions and recognising their effect on human behaviors. The focus of this article is based on the American psychologist Daniel Goleman, who helped to popularize emotional intelligence in the corporate world and found the direct connection between the high performing leaders & teams and their high scores of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people. It is a choice and a discipline, which is required for truly outstanding performance. In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves explain:
- There is no known connection between Emotional Intelligence and IQ
- Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be learned
- EI accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs
- 90% of high performers are also high in EI , while only 20% of low performers are high in EI
- The link between EI & earnings is so direct that every point increase in EI adds $1300 to an annual salary
- In a study of 300 top-level executives from 15 global companies 85-90% of leadership success was linked to social and emotional intelligence (Spencer, L.M. Jr.1997)
- In a multinational study of 515 senior executives EI scores were high in 74% of successful hires, but only high in 24% of failed hires (Eqon Zehnder International)
- Schools whose head teachers have high EI scores demonstrate the best national results of children (Ongoing Hay Group Research)
For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he’s under stress, intentionally manipulates others for his own interest or a leader who stays in control, calmly assesses any situation and understand the motivators of his/her team and their potential to excell in their performance?
According to Daniel Goleman, there are five key elements to it:
- Relationship skills.
The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence. Before looking at each element in more detail and examine how you can grow as a leader, test your emotional intelligence with our Emotional Intelligence Test. By testing and knowing yourself better, it helps you to bucket your strengths and weaknesses. It is not that such test is perfect measure or predictor, but it facilitates self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness.
If you’re self-aware, you always know how you feel, and you know how your thoughts, emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you’re in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, and it means behaving with humility.
So, what can you do to improve your self-awareness?
Keep a journal – Journals help you improve your self-awareness. If you spend just a few minutes each day writing down your thoughts, this can move you to a higher degree of self-awareness.
Slow down – When you experience anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why. Remember, no matter what the situation, you can always choose how you react to it. Once you learn how to manage your emotions whether at home or at work, it will help you understand what your emotions are telling you and get to the root of their cause.
Self-regulation leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control. This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader’s flexibility and commitment to personal accountability.
So, how can you improve your ability to self-regulate?
- Know your values – Do you have a clear idea of where you absolutely will not compromise? Do you know what values are most important to you? Spend some time examining your “code of ethics.” If you know what’s most important to you, then you probably won’t have to think twice when you face a moral or ethical decision – you’ll make the right choice.
- Hold yourself accountable – If you tend to blame others when something goes wrong, stop. Make a commitment to admit to your mistakes and to face the consequences, whatever they are. You’ll probably sleep better at night, and you’ll quickly earn the respect of those around you.
- Practice being calm – The next time you’re in a challenging situation, be very aware of how you act. Do you relieve your stress by shouting at someone else? Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself. Also, try to write down all of the negative things you want to say, and then rip it up and throw it away. Expressing these emotions on paper (and not showing them to anyone!) is better than speaking them aloud to your team. What’s more, this helps you challenge your reactions to ensure that they’re fair!
Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.
How can you improve your motivation?
- Re-examine why you’re doing your job – It’s easy to forget what you really love about your career. So, take some time to remember why you wanted this job. If you’re unhappy in your role and you’re struggling to remember why you wanted it, try the FIVE WHYS technique to find the root of the problem. Starting at the root often helps you look at your situation in a new way. And make sure that your goal statements are fresh and energizing.
- Know where you stand – Determine how motivated you are to lead. There are several leadership motivation assessments out there which can help you see clearly how motivated you are in your leadership role. If you need to increase your motivation to lead, get help with understanding (if needed) what resources can help.
- Be hopeful and find something good – Motivated leaders are usually optimistic, no matter what problems they face. Adopting this mindset might take practice, but it’s well worth the effort. Every time you face a challenge, or even a failure, try to find at least one good thing about the situation. It might be something small, like a new contact, or something with long-term effects, like an important lesson learned. But there’s almost always something positive, if you look for it.
For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it. If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, then show them you care by being empathic. How can you improve your empathy?
- Put yourself in someone else’s position – It’s easy to support your own point of view. After all, it’s yours! But take the time to look at situations from other people’s perspectives, whether directly from the perspective of your opponent or even as a neutral observer of the situation. Can you see the situation differently and consequently can you understand their behaviour?
- Pay attention to body language – Perhaps when you listen to someone, you cross your arms, move your feet back and forth, or bite your lip. This body language often tells others how you really feel about a situation, and the message you’re giving isn’t positive! Learning to read body language can be a real asset in a leadership role, because you’ll be better able to determine how someone truly feels. This gives you the opportunity to respond appropriately.
- Respond to feelings – You ask your account manager to work late – again. And although he agrees, you can hear the disappointment in his voice. So, respond by addressing his feelings. Tell him you appreciate his willingness to work extra hours, and that you’re just as frustrated about working late. If possible, figure out a way for future late nights to be less of an issue (for example, give him Monday mornings off).
5. Relationship Skills
Leaders who do well in the social skills element of emotional intelligence are great communicators. They’re just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they’re expert at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project. They have the ability to connect with others in ways that help them feel understood and supported.
Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. They’re rarely satisfied with leaving things as they are, but they don’t sit back and make everyone else do the work: they set an example with their own behavior.
So, how can you build social/relationship skills?
- Learn conflict resolution – Leaders must know how to resolve conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors. Learning conflict resolution skills is vital if you want to succeed.
- Improve your communication skills – How well do you communicate? Have you heard yourself talking publicly or seeing yourself on a video delivering a presentation?
- Learn how to praise others – As a leader, you can inspire the loyalty of your team simply by giving praise when it’s earned. Learning how to praise others is a fine art, but well worth the effort.
If you are interested in developing your emotional intelligence and ultimately improving your high performance leadership, do not hesitate to contact me