Emotional intelligence matters. Being an impactful leader takes more than business acumen – it also requires emotional smarts. Today, we are going to talk about how to lead your team by using emotional intelligence.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence”, helped popularize the term and create more awareness of it in the 90’s. Goleman believes that success in life requires more than IQ alone. His research showed that almost 67% of competencies required for high-performing leaders were related to emotional intelligence.

As if that weren’t compelling enough, Goleman also believes that IQ only contributes to 20% of our success in life. The remaining 80% comes from emotional intelligence! Understanding which skills are part of emotional intelligence and how to strengthen them helps us to build our own leadership strengths and effectiveness. 

What is Emotional Intelligence? 

While there are multiple definitions of emotional intelligence, Goleman identified 5 elements of EQ that contribute to successful leadership: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

Through his evaluation of EQ in the workplace, he observed that the higher the level of the leader, the greater the impact of EQ on their overall effectiveness and the more important it is that they lead by using emotional intelligence. Technical skills and cognitive abilities were also important capability areas that were evaluated to determine the ingredients of effective leaders. While these other two areas also mattered, emotional intelligence was shown to be twice as important!

Let’s explore each of the 5 EQ dimensions to understand what it means, how it shows up in the workplace, and how to strengthen your own skill and better lead your team:

Self-Awareness 

What it is:

“The ability to recognize and understand our moods, emotions, and drives, including their effect on others.”

What it looks like:

Individuals with high self-awareness are confident. For instance, they know their values and purpose, so they are clear on their trajectory. They are also able to accurately assess their performance with objective curiosity versus judgment. Self-aware individuals know their emotional strengths, blind spots, and how to adapt to situations accordingly. And they are also able to both accurately identify and express emotions.

How to better lead your team by using emotional intelligence:

You can build confidence in your team by keeping morale high and recognizing individual successes. Clearly communicate the vision and end goals of projects, and provide ongoing, constructive feedback to ensure you are on the same page. Create an environment that encourages emotional expression and acknowledges different personality and communication types. 

Self-Regulation 

What it is:

“The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulsive and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment (to think before acting.)”

What it looks like:

Individuals with a high level of self-regulation pause and think before acting. They adapt to new situations and embrace ambiguity with a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset (they define their destiny vs. a reactionary approach.) They are able to control their emotions, and effectively regulate their thoughts and communication accordingly.

How to better lead your team by using emotional intelligence:

Engage in active listening with your team with a focus on pausing before engaging. Ask more questions instead of just giving your opinion to ensure team alignment and connection to the topic at hand. Focus on being flexible to change, and encourage the same value in your team. Do what you say by creating a culture that promotes trust and integrity and focusing on consistently embodying this skill.

Motivation

What it is:

“A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status, and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.”

What it looks like:

Individuals with a high level of motivation are internally driven to achieve and continually raise the performance bar. They seek challenge for challenge’s sake, and are always looking to improve a process or result. They enjoy measuring progress, and stay positive in the face of setbacks. These individuals recognize failure as feedback, and are adept at finding the silver lining in any situation. And they are also committed to their work and to their organization. This commitment is contagious and spreads to those around them.

How to better lead your team by using emotional intelligence:

Be clear on expectations and praise successes. Communicate the bigger impact of your teams’ work, measure performance, and cultivate a culture of resilience that stays the course despite roadblock. Demonstrate your loyalty and commitment to your team and they will give it in return.

Empathy 

What it is:

“The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people, and the skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.”

What it looks like:

Individuals with a high level of empathy are able to sense the feelings and views of each individual teammate, and are able to understand these feelings and adjust their communication approach accordingly. Empathy also helps retain and develop strong employee talent. Coaching is an effective leadership style that is described as empathy in action! 

How to better lead your team by using emotional intelligence:

Seek to understand individual viewpoints and encourage feedback. Tailor your approach to each individual teammate, and nurture employee growth and retention. Use coaching and mentoring leadership styles to effectively listen, give feedback, motivate, and grow each of your teammates. 

Social Skill

What it is:

“Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport.”

What it looks like:

Individuals with a high level of social skill easily connect with others, and are effective at persuading others towards their desired actions or directions. This skill is essentially the outcome of the other four EQ skills. Their empathy enables them to effectively understand and manage their teams. Their self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy all contribute to their persuasiveness – their motivation and passion spreads to others.  

How to better lead your team by using emotional intelligence:

Cultivate your employee relationships by building a strong foundation of social skill and connection. Get to know each individual and treat everyone equally. Focus on employee morale. Empower your team to operate autonomously while offering support. Build motivation with those around you by aligning their work to the overall company purpose. Share your passion and let your positive energy spread. 

Looking for Leadership Development Support?

Building your emotional intelligence is an ongoing practice. Just like building physical muscle, building mental muscle requires many reps to develop results, and coaching can help! Partnering with a coach is such a powerful tool to help you set and achieve your goals. If you are ready to take your leadership to the next level, schedule your free leadership coaching consult today! We look forward to connecting with you.

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Sara Dawson

Sara is a career and wellness coach with Ama La Vida. You can get to know her and book a free consultation with her here: https://alvcoaching.com/team-sara/

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