5 Emotional Intelligence Tips to be a Better and Effective Leader

When you visualize an effective leader, what are his or her traits that come to mind? Most people would say that they are confident, extroverted, passionate, and hardworking.

‘Smart’ is almost always part of the list, but some people would claim that the intelligence quotation (IQ) is not enough when it comes to being a better and effective leader. It should always be accompanied with a high emotional quotient.

What does Emotional Quotient mean?

Emotional quotient, or EQ, is a person’s “score” pertaining to their emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to know, understand, and manage their emotions.

Aside from being aware of his or her feelings, it also implies a highly emotional intelligent person recognizes what other people are feeling and how their own emotions and responses affect their employees and workmates.

Emotional intelligence, just like any other form of intelligence, is both given and nurtured. Some people were given a high sense of self and as they grew, this trait has become nurtured by their parents, relatives, teachers, and peers.

Why is it important to be emotionally intelligent?

As a leader, it’s important that you have high EQ because successful leaders are not just smart. A big part of leadership is constantly talking and socializing with people and if the EQ is low, there can be potential problems that might arise.

One example would be, knowing how to address sudden bursts of emotion. An emotionally intelligent leader knows when and what to say whenever a colleague disappoints them. Instead of acting rashly and confronting them right away about their disappointment, most high EQ leaders would assess their emotions first before acting on them.

What are the ways you can boost your emotional intelligence?

Because emotional intelligence is nurtured, here are a few tips that you can do to boost your emotional quotient.

1. Be self-aware

According to Daniel Goleman, author of Working With Emotional Intelligence, one of the pillars of emotional intelligence is self-awareness.

Self-awareness refers to how a person identifies and understands his or her own strengths and weaknesses. It’s also the ability to sense their feelings at a given moment.

One way to be self-aware is practicing pauses. Pausing allows you to give breathing space to your brain and it also gives you enough time to be aware of what you are feeling. Practicing the pause can save you from acting rashly.

You can also try journaling. Keeping a daily journal will help you find a pattern for your feelings. When you journal, explain the situation and describe what you were feeling at that given moment. Also, write down how you got affected by those situations.

2. Know and accept your flaws

A good number of people are not aware of their flaws. Part of being self-aware is to know and acknowledge your flaws. But what really steps up your emotional quotient is your ability to be accountable to those flaws.

People who aren’t emotionally intelligent often resort to defense mechanisms and projections. Defense mechanisms are mental processes (usually converted to actions) that occur when someone avoids feeling hurt, anxious, or confronted.

On the other hand, a projection is when someone accuses another person of a trait or action that he or she has which the other person does not.

If you want to increase your EQ, you should start taking the blame for your flaws and shortcomings. Practicing this also boosts your maturity because you will learn to be accountable for your mistakes.

3. Practice empathy

Like self-awareness, empathy is also a pillar of emotional intelligence. It refers to how you connect to and understand the feelings and views of other people.

When you are empathic, it is easier to communicate with other people and this goes a long way in building relationships among co-workers.

To practice empathy and become an effective leader, you can slowly start being a listener than a talker. When interacting with colleagues, practice listening to what they are saying rather than formulating a response to them.

When in a conversation, be more aware if you tend to listen to reply, or listen to understand. Strive for the latter in order to understand how your colleagues better.

4. Find an outlet for your emotions

Being emotionally intelligent does not only mean that you know how to manage your emotions internally. This also means that you have a healthy outlet for those emotions.

A healthy outlet should be something that relaxes you or someone who grounds you to who you really are. Watching television is not one of them because most of the time, you will only be spending half your attention on the TV show or movie. A more productive outlet can be sports, meditation, a hobby, or even talking to a therapist.

Having someone listen to your feelings can be a good way to vent out and release negative feelings and magnify positive ones. This person does not have to be a friend or relative. He or she can be a professional in any field.

5. Be a proactive learner

You will only be able to know yourself more through the things you learn and encounter. Reading is a good way to boost your emotional quotient because there are a lot of books that talk about increasing emotional intelligence. These books can give you more advice and encourage you to practice certain habits.

Another form of learning is through socializing. Surround yourself with people who are emotionally intelligent because you will end up learning from their demeanor and maturity. Their ability to handle their emotions well will also inspire you to be able to do so.

Taking the time to work on your emotional intelligence will do wonders for your organization. It reinforces healthy relationships among colleagues and it also lessens the times when discord and demotivation arise because of emotions that were not managed.

Start by being self-aware together with being accountable for your shortcomings, practice empathy, having an outlet for the feelings you have, and constantly improve on your emotional intelligence.

Written By
Courtney Lockett is a practicing lawyer, business owner and the principal of Lockett Mccullough Lawyers. Her practice provides legal assistance to a wide range of clients both locally and internationally and specialises in assisting defence force personnel with private legal issues.