For many decades, businesses have tried to deduce what separates successful leaders from unsuccessful ones. What’s in the “magic sauce” that makes a leader such as Steve Jobs or Satoru Iwata? Creating a prosperous and notable business undoubtedly relies on a variety of “in the right place at the right time” intangibles – think of Jeff Bezos starting Amazon out of his garage. However, one easily identifiable trait that almost all successful leaders have in common is a wealth of emotional intelligence. In this article, you’ll learn what emotional intelligence is, why the acronym associated with it is emotional quotient (EQ) instead of EI and how you can improve your emotional quotient to succeed as an emotionally intelligent leader, both inside and outside of the workplace.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
According to the Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence has 12 elements that fall under four broad categories:
- Self-awareness – how aware you are of the emotions you harbor, and why you have these emotions.
- Self-management – how well you can control your emotions, even in highly stressful situations or in situations where emotional restraint is exceptionally difficult. For example, a leader capable of emotional self-control won’t fly off the handle at an employee who stole money from the company. Maintaining composure in such a situation is difficult.
- Adaptability – how well you can adapt to emotionally challenging situations such as a failed product launch or a slew of bad product or service reviews.
- Achievement orientation – emotionally intelligent leaders should always have a vision in mind. Leaders who have goals that they are emotionally attached to are more likely to push themselves to meet the objectives successfully.
- Positive outlook – as a leader, it’s easy to be negative. Stock drops, bad reviews and internal leadership conflicts are but a few of the negative experiences a business leader will likely experience. Being able to maintain a positive outlook despite setbacks is a crucial element of emotional intelligence.
- Empathy – defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” It’s difficult for leaders of large corporations to have empathy for their employees, but it’s vital for leaders to make their decisions with understanding. For example, instead of laying off employees at Nintendo when the company had a bad year in 2014, chief executive Satoru Iwata slashed his pay by half, together with other board members. The situation was an example of a leadership decision inspired by empathy.
- Organizational awareness – the trait goes hand-in-hand with empathy. Corporate awareness was the reason for Iwata’s decision to have a pay cut. When asked why he refused to cut staff at Nintendo, Iwata responded that layoffs would hurt employee morale, which will then lead to shoddy work and subsequently damage the brand’s image and reputation. Because of his empathy and organizational awareness, four years after Iwata’s decision on the pay cut, Nintendo’s profits were up by 505 percent in 2018.
- Influence – a leader can influence others. This doesn’t mean that an emotionally intelligent leader is manipulative, but instead, such a leader is capable of inspiring employees for them to perform better.
- Coach and mentor – employees view their leader as a coach and a mentor whom they can aspire to emulate, not a brick wall of emotion who is only concerned with net revenue or gross profits.
- Conflict management – a successful leader resolves conflicts in an emotionally intelligent manner. This leader always prefers discussions with open communication rather than a highly emotional debate.
- Teamwork – an emotionally intelligent leader works well with a team. While it may be difficult for solopreneurs who are taking their first steps into business leadership, working well with others is a vital trait.
- Inspirational leadership – a leader is an inspiration. Employees will complete their best work when they believe in the vision and ethos of the company and their leader.
Why The Acronym For Emotional Intelligence Is EQ And Not EI
A piece of useful information: EQ stands for emotional intelligence quotient and is generally used in favor of EI when referring to emotional intelligence. For years, EI reigned predominantly, but the term EQ was allegedly born when the article of Keith Beasley was published by the British magazine Mensa Bulletin in May 1987. EQ even became more popular when Time magazine published a cover article titled “What’s Your EQ?” in October 1995.
How You Can Raise Your EQ As a Leader
Being an emotionally intelligent leader is exceptionally difficult, but there’s a reason why we went so in-depth with our discussion of what comprises emotional intelligence. With self-awareness on EQ, reading through our list of emotional intelligence components will help you determine the EQ elements you need to improve.
If you think that your EQ is perfect, chances are you’re wrong! You should probably start working on your self-awareness. The truth is that nobody is perfect, and your employees probably perceive you very differently than you would like to think. Our suggestion is for you to create a survey with all of our emotional intelligence components. Next step is to ask employees to anonymously fill in which aspects of emotional intelligence they think you have and which EQ traits they believe you can improve.
Most likely, you will receive some surprising results. Once you’ve gotten the feedback, take it seriously and start trying to be more mindful of your emotions.
For example, listening is a skill very few people have mastered. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not listening twice as much as you’re talking, you’re probably doing it wrong. Start working on your listening skills, and you’ll probably find that your employees will start to feel more appreciated.
You should also focus on responding to employees, rather than reacting to them. For example, if the HR unit receives reports that a good friend of yours in the company is harassing employees, avoid going with your gut reaction and siding with your friend. Take the complaints seriously, and open an investigation into your friend’s behavior. If there’s evidence to support claims of harassment, apologize to the victims directly and offer your help. If you handle such situations with emotional intelligence and maturity, your employees will trust and respect you, and will consequently work harder for you.
These are just a few of our suggestions on how you can improve your EQ. By consistently communicating with your employees and asking for honest feedback concerning your EQ, you’ll create a healthy emotional environment within your business that encourages constructive criticism and critical thinking. In doing so, you enable yourself to expand your EQ and be the best leader you can be.
If you are trying to grow your business and need tools for success, let us help! Here at HJR Global, we specialize in helping small- and medium-sized businesses fulfill their real potential. Contact us to learn more.
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