Leaders and Emotional Intelligence

Today’s top executives pursue leadership talent capable of delivering high impact results across the organization.  It’s a well-documented fact that leaders who master the ability to manage and self-regulate their emotions are more effective and productive in the workplace.  This shifts Emotional Intelligence (EI) from a buzzword to a foundational skill for organizational leaders. 

Several researchers including Talent Smart and the Journal of Vocational Behavior report that 90% of the top performers in the workplace have high EI.  Numerous publications report a direct correlation between EI and salaries, notably employees with high EI make $29,000 more annually than their low EI counterparts. 

All of this is great news for leaders in today’s fast paced, rapidly changing and complex digital business environment.  However, it takes more than hammering industry knowledge and technical skills into the minds of leaders to help them achieve goals and enhance the performance of others.  Emotional intelligence is a critical performance competency and a transformational skill that every organization should embrace and include in their learning toolbox. 

EI includes at least 5 key characteristics for individual mastery:  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.   We’ve captured some useful tips and techniques to help leaders understand, improve and maximize emotional intelligence skills in these areas:

Be persistent and intentional about understanding your emotions and the resulting behaviors.   Remember: “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” (Charles Swindell).  As leaders, it may not be possible to control the words or actions of others.  It is possible to control how you react and respond. 

Take stock or inventory of your own emotional intelligence.  Complete an assessment tool to better understand your EI strengths and weaknesses.  Use the scores to create an action plan or checklist.  Be sure to set both short and long-term goals for improvement and track your progress.

Keep a daily journal of emotions, both comfortable and uncomfortable. The process of assessing the cause and effect of your emotions and their impact on you and others will help enhance your personal performance.  The “Five Why’s” is a great tool to help you dig deeper to uncover the why and how you respond in certain situations.

Be a good listener.  As a listener, your greatest asset is to hear and see the situation from another person’s perspective without judging.  After listening, be prepared to ask clarifying questions that will help resolve conflicts and move the situation forward.

Invest in yourself with training and skill practice.  Ask your organization if EI training is available or invest in online learning tools.

Identify trustworthy and knowledgeable accountability partner(s).  Solicit the support of co-workers, a boss, friends or family members who are willing to give candid and descriptive feedback about your display of helpful and unhelpful emotions and the impact on others.  Use their input to create an action plan or checklist.

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