Five reasons why emotional intelligence matters right now
An emotionally intelligent workforce can help organizations meet many of their current challenges. Managers who are high in EI can help the business drive through change, stimulate innovation and get the best and most inspired performance from its people.
Emotional intelligence is however a tool that is under-used and often widely misunderstood within the corporate environment. Managers are suspicious of the very word ‘emotion’ and often feel it has no place in a fast-paced competitive climate where tough decisions are being made on a daily basis. It’s important to recognise however, that being emotionally intelligent isn’t about being emotional – it’s about being able to manage yourself better and get the most out of your team while also paying attention to their welfare and individual needs.
Here I share five reasons why emotional intelligence should form the backbone of every manager’s tool-kit:
- It makes it easier to drive through change
Managers who have a high level of self-awareness are better able to bring people with them when it comes to implementing change. They are able to sense the mood in the room, for example, and adapt their communication style accordingly. This can be particularly useful when it comes to helping people cope with the fear often associated with change. If the worries and concerns that people have for themselves and their jobs are not acknowledged and addressed they will be unable to see and buy into the bigger picture. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to recognise how others are feeling and can help their people manage the difficult emotions that are an inevitable part of change.
- It helps boost innovation and creativity
People have to be in a good place to be innovative. Indeed research has shown that if people are happy their creativity often increases. Leaders who are high in emotional intelligence know how to create positive working environments where people are relaxed and able to fulfil their potential. They are also well placed to manage the inevitable highs and lows that come with the innovation process – helping their teams cope with frustration and bounce-back quickly from disappointment if their creative ideas have been inhibited or rejected.
- It supports the development of productive relationships
People who can stay in control of their emotions in difficult situations are much less likely to make ‘heat of the moment’ decisions or lose their temper at an inopportune moment. They are also typically good at handling the conflicts that arise between others – understanding how to step in and reach a resolution before a disagreement turns sour and starts to get in the way of workplace productivity. Of course it’s not all about managing negative behaviour. Managers with high EI are also great at building partnerships, encouraging collaboration and gaining respect and loyalty from their peers and their team.
- It helps leverage the diversity within teams
How often do you hear people moaning about a colleague who is difficult to deal with or seems determined to block progress? Often the person who is complaining is part of the problem themselves because they don’t have the empathy or insight to pick up on the other person’s perspective and expect everyone to react and behave in the same way they do. Managers with good EI are better able to recognise the different personality types and working preferences within their team and can flex their approach accordingly to make sure people are playing to their strengths and they are getting the best out of everybody.
- It gives the business competitive advantage
A workforce made up of emotionally intelligent people can give the business a distinct commercial edge. One US study for example found that sales people with high EI produced twice the revenue of their peers who rated lower down the scale. Emotionally intelligent managers are skilled at building influential relationships and getting people on side. They are also better than less self- aware managers at helping the business anticipate recognise and meet customer needs.
I have found that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But my research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he/she still won’t make a great leader.
Leaders influence the team’s mood. The team’s mood drives performance. What’s your conclusion?
by Grant Stanley