Leadership can come in various forms, and that’s a good thing because we all learn, communicate, and adapt differently to individual leadership styles.
Leaders of the future understand the complexities of humanity and can appeal to all aspects of our quirky personalities because of one thing: emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence in leadership is far more than being nice to people. It’s a state of mind that allows us to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, show empathy, and dissociate ourselves from our egos to understand someone else’s perspective rather than strive to be understood.
Here are the four main reasons why emotional intelligence is important to be a good leader.
4 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Matters
1. Emotional Intelligence Empowers Us and Everyone Around Us
Emotional intelligence empowers us to be present and in the moment, which allows us to genuinely listen to someone, not just hear what they have to say. Listening takes intention and focus. Hearing is passive and lazy.
High levels of emotional intelligence also facilitate a peak state of performance from everyone involved, creating a cascade of events in the brain that promote a flow state of mind that can help leaders accomplish more tasks during their day with less effort. In addition, it fertilizes the soil of productivity, which can have a ripple effect across an organization.
Leaders who understand these concepts know how impactful they can be within their companies because they’ve witnessed firsthand how beneficial intentional actions can be for cultivating high-quality teams. And once they get a taste of what peak performance and highly efficient teamwork look like, it is nearly impossible to forget.
Emotionally intelligent individuals don’t have to tell you they’re emotionally intelligent. People who regularly interact with them know how they feel in their presence. These people have “something about them” and can light up a room upon entering.
Whoever said “business isn’t personal” clearly didn’t understand business because all business is personal. It’s all about building long-lasting relationships. And relationships are essential for success.
2. Sharing Is Caring, Especially When Building Relationships
In today’s modern workplace, showing vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. The old days of being afraid to show emotions, be honest about feelings, and openly share sentiments of insecurity have long passed.
In today’s world, emotional intelligence in leadership is necessary, especially with the recent changes in workflow that have become the norm in the COVID-19 era. Whether working from home or back in the office, there are ways to cultivate relationships without being right next to someone.
Being open about emotions and feelings and sharing your thoughts will open up discussions for others to do the same, creating an environment of psychological safety and a foundation of trust with colleagues. When colleagues can express their opinions openly and freely, the best ideas are brought to the forefront, allowing highly productive teams to solve problems and create solutions as quickly as possible.
When hierarchies exist and people are scared of being judged for their ideas, the bottom line suffers. And this turns into bad business, as people rarely stay with companies where they feel their voices aren’t being heard.
The best ideas rarely come from the top because leaders at the top are usually working on the business, not in the business. And that’s okay! But it also means they can be disconnected from the real problems in public and on the ground.
Having humility with your colleagues is pivotal because high-level leaders understand their place with their direct reports.
3. Great Leaders Work for Their People, Not the Other Way
This concept might be a big pill to swallow, but they say the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Leaders with high emotional intelligence work to support their colleagues, not the other way around.
Because leaders with high emotional intelligence realize that supporting their people is the most efficient way to empower them to own their results, facilitate growth, and allow psychological safety to make mistakes on the job in the pursuit of bettering themselves.
This concept is one of the most efficient long-term plays an individual could utilize because once teams become self-sufficient, emotionally intelligent leaders become freed up to continue to work on the business rather than in the business. It also creates a situation where employees gain confidence to take on new tasks, try new things, and continuously work on finding new solutions to existing problems.
This process is why the Toyota Production System (TPS) was so effective in vastly expanding Toyota’s reign within the car industry. It created a hub of experimentation and learning within every step and individual who worked on the line.
As Charles Darwin so elegantly stated,
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, that which is most adaptable to change.”
Teams that learn fast and quickly adapt to change will win the long-term battle of business and problem-solving. And while you can’t put a price tag on emotional intelligence, your bottom line will show the true colors of your organization and the people you surround yourself with.
Humans are social creatures. We always have been and always will be. Here’s how you can use this to your advantage.
4. Emotional Intelligence Appeals to Our Core
We’re all emotional beings. Good luck getting away from that one.
Emotions appeal to the center of who we are as humans, which is why emotional intelligence in leadership can play a significant role in developing great teams and executing at the highest levels.
The lower emotional centers within our brains play an essential role in our actions, how we interpret our world, and how we respond to our environment. The hard part about this is that our subconscious processing is faster and more efficient at processing data than our conscious processing, making it a bit complex to understand how or why people respond to situations the way they do.
Triggers and underlying experiences can change the way we interpret conversations and discussions.
By utilizing emotional intelligence in leadership discussions and coaching situations, you will be able to optimize growth and sustainability and improve connections with your colleagues.
If we can truly meet people where they’re at emotionally and psychologically, then we can create a foundation of trust and acceptance, once again allowing people to be their best and show their best both in the office and at home.
This unique marriage of vulnerability, trust, and communication is the bedrock of a highly functioning team and business.
Creating an optimal workplace environment may seem daunting, but it isn’t. It starts with individual discussions, consistent follow-up, and continuously setting intentions. It manifests through the small interactions with peers, simple gestures with colleagues, and ensuring that you show up with your best foot forward in every possible situation.
Does this mean you need to be perfect? No, far from it. But it does mean that you must show up and give the best of what you’ve got every day. Amateurs are inconsistent, but professionals show unwavering consistency with their work.
And as the brilliant Ankur Warikoo writes in his book, Do Epic Sh*t,
“The pro is the amateur who simply showed up every day.”
Start small, stay consistent, and know that your emotional intelligence in leadership will allow you to shine in every aspect of your life.
Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com
|||^||Psychology Today: The Difference Between Hearing and Listening|
|||^||Behavioral Sciences: A Review on the Role of the Neuroscience of Flow States in the Modern World|
|||^||Center for Creative Leadership: What Is Psychological Safety at Work?|
|||^||Maryville University: Importance of Training and Development for Employees|
|||^||Toyota: Toyota Production System|
|||^||Quote Investigator: It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable|
|||^||Healthline: What Part of the Brain Controls Emotions?|
|||^||Frontiers in Psychology: The inevitable contrast: Conscious vs. unconscious processes in action control|