When you think of the qualities that make a great leader, what comes to mind? One who has a constant supply of smart ideas, has an analytical mind, is great to talk to, and is always approachable? While all these are certainly good-to-have, there is one remarkable quality that separates great leaders from the rest of their ilk and that is – emotional intelligence. Defined as the ability to accurately perceive and manage one’s own and others’ emotions by understanding the signals emotions send about relationships, most great leaders have a high emotional quotient. In fact, the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership was clearly articulated by Theodore Roosevelt when he famously said
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Five building blocks of emotional intelligence
So how can you recognize, connect with, and learn from yours as well as others’ emotions to be able to handle all kinds of situations effectively? Honing these five critical aspects can help you get it right:
- Self-awareness: Being a self-aware leader means knowing how you feel, your strengths and weaknesses, and also how your emotions can affect others around you. To be more self-aware:
- Maintain a journal of emotions to recognize your feelings’ patterns through the course of time and use the insights to effectively mould your reactions.
- Filter your thoughts before you put them to action.
- Make time for adequate introspection
- Self-regulation: Are you in control of yourself or do you frequently make emotional or impulsive decisions, harbour pre-conceived notions about others or compromise yours and others’ values? To be more self-regulated:
- Take ownership: Own your mistakes, decisions, and their consequences, come what may. Hold yourself accountable without looking for a scapegoat in others.
- Set clear limits: Have a clear knowledge of what aspects in a professional relationship are absolutely deal-breakers for you and do not compromise on your values.
- Keep calm and carry on: Sure, there are days when it feels like Murphy is having a field day at your expense, but even then, you can choose how to react and being calm should be your first choice.
- Motivation: Do you truly love your job or have you forgotten what brought you here in the first place? Are your goals in line with your current aspirations? To be more self-motivated:
- Re-think your goals: Make fresh goal statements on the basis of were o stand currently and then for actionable roadmaps.
- Be optimistic, especially when the going gets tough – think of at least one good thing that comes out of a particularly bad situation
- Empathy: Are you able to easily put yourself in someone else’s situation to give constructive feedback, listen to others’ issues and help them overcome the same? To be more empathetic:
- Be a good listener ad observer – take note of people’s body language to know how someone truly feels
- Appreciate people more often and wholeheartedly
- Try the Perceptual Positions technique to see others’ point of view
- Social skills: Are you a good communicator? How effectively do you manage change and conflict? To build better social skills:
- Communicate openly and effectively with employees of all strata
- Learn to resolve conflict and keep your team working at optimal productivity
- Show people that you genuinely care for them and their well-being