As a business leader, your ability to connect with, collaborate with, and inspire the people on your team is crucial. Something that affects your ability to fulfill these roles is your emotional intelligence, a concept popularized by American psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman in his book, aptly named, Emotional Intelligence.
Like intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence can improve over time—which is good news for anyone hoping to lead more effectively in both their professional and personal lives.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, often noted as EQ or EI, is a person’s ability to recognize, understand, manage, and influence their emotions and other people’s emotions. The concept emerged after decades of research suggested that IQ (a measure of a person’s intellectual intelligence) was not always a great predictor of success.
That is, many people with high IQs fail to develop healthy relationships, profitable business ventures, or even general well-being. Likewise, some people who trend lower on the traditional IQ scale enjoy both subjective and objective measures of success in many areas.
This led psychologists to realize that there must be other things also contributing to whether a person succeeds in life. Emotional intelligence, as it turned out, is one of them.
Based on research from Goleman and other psychologists, EQ has a few key components:
Self-awareness: you can recognize your emotions and understand how they influence your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors
Self-regulation: you demonstrate impulse control, integrity, and the ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way
Social awareness: you’re comfortable in social situations, can pick up on subtle social and emotional cues, and are sensitive to unique group dynamics
Relationship management: you feel empathy for others and are able to inspire and influence people in an engaging way
5 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence for the Leader in You
By sharpening the above components and becoming more emotionally intelligent, you can expect your leadership skills to improve. Here are 5 specific ways:
- Improve your communication. The ability to convey exactly what you need from your team, and the ability to listen to what their needs are, can maximize productivity, prevent costly oversights, and ensure that everyone is clear about your company’s mission and expectations.
- Defuse conflict. As an emotionally savvy leader, you can prevent small issues from devolving into larger ones, and even address more serious issues with tact and timeliness.
- Set a positive workplace standard. You can help create a culture of trust and collaboration that impacts everyone from your colleagues to your customers.
- Leverage adversity. Being able to make difficult decisions and reflect honestly on the outcomes allows you to learn more from your challenges and setbacks.
- Connect with, develop, and retain quality talent. People want to work with strong leaders. By taking ownership of your own emotional intelligence, you can literally influence and strengthen your team at every level of your organization.
But the benefits don’t stop there. People with a high EQ have been shown to have better mental and physical well-being, less perceived stress, and healthier relationships. So, no matter what your job role is within your organization (or even your own family), know that developing your emotional intelligence can have a profoundly positive impact on everyone around you—including yourself.