Emotional intelligence is the hot topic in organizational leadership these days. Unlike many trends that come
and go on the topic of leadership, EI is likely to stick around. That’s because EI taps into core elements of human nature and interactions. Daniel Goldman famously applied EI to the business world and pointed out that business leaders with high EI are the most effective at their jobs. Another study proved that 58% of your job performance is tied to your emotional intelligence. How can you make EI work for you?
Before you can lead effectively, you need to understand your own emotions. Step back and review how you feel in specific situations. Are you angry when someone is consistently late to the meetings you run? How do you handle your emotions in this case? If you blow up at the offender, you don’t have high EI. If you plot and scheme after the meeting to retaliate, perhaps by being late to that person’s meeting, you don’t have high EI. And, if you talk negatively to others about the offender, your EI needs work. One way to demonstrate high EI in this situation is to acknowledge that the person’s actions have upset you and to speak with her directly about the problem.
Each person has a unique personality and must work on different aspects of his emotions to achieve high EI, especially when he takes on a leadership role. There are also some commonalities, based on gender. In a recent post for ReadytoManage.com, David Keane details Goldman’s findings. For example, women are typically more successful in many work settings because they read emotions quickly and have empathy. Men, on the other hand, tend to manage stressful situations well because they don’t react as emotionally as women.
Regardless of gender, you need to be aware of your personal EI. Developing a higher EI will allow you to lead by example. Staying focused on work and refraining from undesirable behavior like gossiping or retaliating shows your team members what you expect.
Awareness of your own EI, will help you recognize the EI of your team members and help you manage the inevitable conflicts. When arguments erupt, consider the emotions and motivations of the people involved. Develop a plan and address the problem before it gets out of hand. Encourage your team members to share, in a non-confrontational manner, the nature of the problem. Keep the discussion work-focused. Don’t allow personal attacks. You can keep the problem-resolution process on track by focusing on work. Remind your team members that they don’t have to be best friends. They only need to work together successfully on a common project.
If you can convince them to be motivated to complete the project and to respect each other’s contributions, everybody wins in 2 ways: the EI level is higher which makes for a more positive work environment and revenue and profits will likely grow. To learn more about how EI works and how you can make it work for you, check out the What is Emotional Intelligence and How to Improve It column, authored by Zoey Miller at thebabbleout.com.