Emotional intelligence is a necessity for every leader.
It is a great asset for every professional to possess as it can be applied to virtually any role, from entry-level roles to executive-level positions in large companies.
According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence can be defined as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.”
Emotionally intelligent leaders can have a large impact on company culture, asserting a positive influence on the workplace.
These leaders will have the emotional awareness and interpersonal skills to create a strong company culture. They will be able to identify and encourage these traits in others from the initial job interview and can build a workplace based on these principles.
By taking specific steps, leaders can demonstrate the principles of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
Let’s take a closer look at the 6 steps to being an emotionally intelligent leader.
1) Be Real
Nobody wants to work with a cruel taskmaster or, even worse, an unfeeling robot. Leaders should make every effort to connect with co-workers on a personal level.
While in the past, the boss was an aloof and distant figure, attempting to fulfill this same role is simply not effective in the modern workplace.
A generation shift is occurring as millennials enter the job force, and they will quickly dominate multiple industries as retirements increase.
Millennial workers do not want a cold and distant boss.
On the contrary, when considering employers 80% of millennials look for a strong fit with people and company culture before career potential.
An emotionally intelligent leader understands that real human connection will only make a team collaborate with each other better and have a positive impact on the quality of their work.
This does not mean that managers and employees should know every detail of each other’s personal lives, but instead recognize that they are each individual with their own lives and that they should be empathetic to one another.
By making it a point to form personal bonds based on respect, understanding, and encouragement, it will make for a stronger and more cohesive workplace.
2) Actively Listen
Listening – truly listening – to others can be a surprisingly difficult task for leaders in the workplace environment.
An emotionally intelligent leader will always actively listen to those around them. This means not merely paying lip service or smiling and nodding politely with no intention of following through on what is being said.
Active listening requires consideration and discussion and additional thought. It is important for leaders to make sure their co-workers understand that they can provide input and raise suggestions that will be treated respectfully.
A 2016 report found that 75% of workers would stay for a longer period of time in a workplace that listened to and addressed their concerns.
If a supervisor or manager fails to do this, it undermines cohesion and collaboration in the workplace and can push talented employees out the door.
When an employee approaches their manager to raise some concerns or new ideas, an emotionally intelligent leader will give them undivided attention.
No multitasking, no returning emails, instead a leader will sit down, listen to their employees and engage in discussion to get a full understanding of the situation.
3) Encourage Mistakes
Businesses need to always be moving forward, and not spend time and resources trying to maintain the status quo.
When company leaders make such an attempt, it often has the opposite effect and results in being surpassed by competitors and losing their place in the market.
An emotionally intelligent leader will make every effort to encourage their employees to make mistakes, take smart risks and possibly fail to reach their goals.
Employees are afraid to make a mistake and fail at a work assignment, as it reflects poorly on them and may even call their employment into question.
Leaders must work to make sure that their employees know that failure is not something that needs to be feared.
No project or initiative is guaranteed to succeed, but if proper planning has been performed, there is a high possibility that valuable information will still be gained as a result.
Leaders must give people the confidence to make a decision that is unorthodox with the knowledge that failing to meet expectations will not result in them being fired.
4) Reward Initiative
It is important that employees feel recognized and supported in the workplace. No one likes to spend one moment feeling like they are just a faceless drone in a corporate machine.
Recent studies with young professionals entering the workplace find that personal development and career opportunities are strong priorities.
It is up to emotionally intelligent leaders to ensure that employees know that there is a viable career path in the workplace, and to help guide them towards their goals.
The newest generation of workers is by-and-large, not content to simply show up for a job and hope that a good performance will eventually lead to a promotion.
78% of workers have stated that they would have remained with an employer for a longer period of time if there had been a clearly defined career path.
An emotionally intelligent leader will highlight a career path and reward the initiative of their employees to advance their role and assume greater responsibility.
5) Admit Shortcomings
An emotionally intelligent leader understands that there are limits to their own knowledge. This is true even for leaders with a high level of experience and expertise in their field.
There are always new developments, trends, and techniques that affect the way that businesses connect with their audience, and remaining fully informed regarding them would be a full-time job in itself.
Aside from business knowledge, leaders are still just individuals who will view things through their own set of experiences.
Everyone has unconscious blindspots that influence how information is received and interpreted. Instead of remaining on the defensive or, even worse, being dismissive of new ideas, and emotionally intelligent leader will be open to input from those around them.
By brainstorming and discussing projects with a team, it provides an excellent opportunity to examine them in a new light and identify any potential issues.
By eliciting opinions from employees, an emotionally intelligent leader knows that the chance of successfully reaching business goals greatly increases.
6) Lead, Don’t Boss
There is one thing that every leader needs to succeed: followers.
Emotionally intelligent leaders know that the best way to inspire others is to lead them, and not boss them around.
The idea that to be a leader is to boss others around, issuing orders and decrees from their office without any real knowledge of the daily life of their employees is one that needs to be left in the past.
Instead of firing off orders, emotionally intelligent leaders take charge themselves and spearhead new projects and initiatives.
When a leader is putting their own time and effort into their work, it makes it far more likely that other employees will put their best effort forward. It is greatly important that the impact that engaged leaders can have on the workplace.
A recent Gallup poll found that an engaged and emotionally intelligent leader can result in a 70% variation in total workplace engagement.
Having employees work with a leader they want to follow can make a truly stunning difference to a business.
The modern workplace needs emotionally intelligent leaders who know how to get the most out of their employees. These are leaders who form real connections, actively listening to their employees, embrace learning through failure, welcome diverse points of view and inspire those around them through their own work effort.
Forming such connections makes employees happier, and increases the chance that they will remain in a job role for a long period of time.
When managers and supervisors take a few simple steps to improve their interpersonal skills, they can become emotionally intelligent leaders who work together with all employees to make a better and more productive workplace for everyone.