Why is emotional intelligence important in leadership?
Emotional intelligence includes the ability to both recognise and control your emotions and working with emotions appropriately as situations dictate. It also involves an awareness of and sensitivity towards other people and their emotions.
Emotional intelligence has become increasingly recognised as a trait in leadership. In fact, it could easily be argued that emotional intelligence is an important characteristic for anyone at any level of an organisation. A leader’s emotional intelligence can have a major influence over their relationships, how they manage their teams and generally how they interact with individuals in the workplace.
What happens when leaders aren’t emotionally intelligent?
Most leaders frequently face stressful situations. Leaders who are low in emotional intelligence tend react negatively in stressful situations because they’re not able to manage their emotions. They may be prone to behaviours such as shouting, blaming and other types of aggression. This can create an even more stressful environment, where workers are being very careful not to offend or do anything wrong and trying to prevent the next outburst.
Not being emotionally intelligent can inhibit collaboration. When a leader doesn’t have a firm, clear understanding of their own emotions and reacts inappropriately, most of their employees tend to feel nervous about contributing their ideas for fear of how the leader will respond.
A leader who lacks emotional intelligence doesn’t necessarily physically abuse their employees, but it can happen. Not being emotionally intelligent can also mean an inability to address situations that could be fraught with emotion. Most leaders deal with conflict, and a leader who has a poor comprehension of emotions may have a difficult time recognising conflict and dealing effectively with its resolution.
What happens when leaders are emotionally intelligent?
Leaders who are emotionally intelligent create safe environments where employees feel comfortable to take calculated risks and to voice their opinions. Working collaboratively isn’t just a goal, but it gets bedded into the culture of the team and the organisation.
When a leader is emotionally intelligent, they are able to work with emotions in positive ways for the good of the organisation. Leaders often have to act as change agents, and if they are aware of how others will react emotionally to any changes, they can anticipate this planning the most appropriate ways to introduce and carry out the change.
Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t take things personally. They can take the lead and progress plans without worrying about what others think and the impact on their egos.
Although some people tend to have more emotional intelligence than others, it is definitely a trait that can be developed.
Ei4Change has an online course covering emotional intelligence and leadership – The Emotionally Intelligent Leader.
In this course, you will develop greater self-awareness and strengthen your leadership capabilities. Learn how to become an emotionally intelligent leader, how to manage conflict and difficult situations by inspiring and fostering respect, and how to build and maintain an emotionally intelligent team.