Is Emotional Intelligence important for leadership effectiveness?

October 19, 2022 / BY / IN Uncategorized

“The most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.” Daniel Goleman. Harvard Business Review.

Whether at home or at work, every interaction we have allows us to express our emotions. They affect how we respond to opportunities and difficulties. Our ability to recognize, manage, and express emotions is referred to as emotional intelligence. Researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey initially used the term in 1990, and psychologist Daniel Goleman later popularized it.
The following are the four essential components of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness: The ability to know your emotions, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, and recognize their impact on performance and relationships.
  2. Self-Management: The capacity to regulate both positive and negative emotions, and impulses, as well as being adaptable and flexible when circumstances call for it.
  3. Social Awareness: The capacity to empathize with others, exercise political judgment, and engage in proactive networking.
  4. Relationship Management: The skill of inspiring others through persuasion, inspiration, forging ties, and resolving disagreements among people. According to a recent poll by The Society for Human Resource Management, “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” was cited as the most important component in job satisfaction by 72% of respondents.

How do our emotions affect work performance?

All emotions are functional and affect performance. Positive emotions help us maintain resilience, sharpen our thinking, reverse bad emotions, develop new skills, and create psychological capital. On the other side, negative emotions serve as a warning sign for potential dangers, draw attention to a problem, and act as a process for learning. Emotional intelligence, according to research by EQ provider TalentSmart, is the best indicator of behavioral performance. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 71% of employers indicated they valued EQ over IQ, noting that people with high emotional intelligence are more likely to remain composed under stress, handle disagreement diplomatically, and show empathy for their coworkers.

How about leadership effectiveness?

Leaders create the tone and culture of their organizations. Effective leadership requires the capacity to develop emotional connections with followers and to lead with emotional intelligence. This is because how a leader makes their staff feel can affect both their engagement and productivity. A lack of emotional intelligence in leadership can diminish employee engagement and increase turnover rates. EI gives leaders the ability to manage interpersonal relations deftly and sympathetically. Our emotions are interwoven in every job situation, including change and uncertainty, interactions with coworkers, conflict and relationships, effort and fatigue, success, and failure. When organizations go through challenging times like the recent pandemic, employers are dependent on their employees to help the organization with resilience and hope for the future. Here in Africa, retention of scarce talent is crucial as organizations fight to attract and retain the best talent available in challenging labor markets.

Tips for Leading with Emotional Intelligence

  1. Understand your emotional triggers and those of others.

“There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning is all linked.” – Eric Jensen

Leadership effectiveness is limited or enhanced depending on the leaders’ self-awareness, their awareness of how others view them, and how they navigate the resulting interactions. Intentionally increasing your self-awareness is sure to help you improve your emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness. Building those skills requires understanding how aspects of identity can affect the way you lead, and a willingness to learn and recognize your own emotional triggers and weaknesses.

To lead with emotional intelligence, managers must make the most of their team members’ varied experiences and consider the various life experiences of individuals. This requires the leader to be aware of any unconscious prejudices they may have and to address each one individually. Your ability to understand where your employees are coming from — including their social identity and how their experiences may have informed their perspectives — demonstrates a willingness to see the world as others see it, without standing in judgment. This is not easy but through intentional and continuous self-reflection, you can get there.

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