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How your managers can cultivate Emotional Intelligence to become more effective leaders

It’s no secret that your people are your organisation’s greatest asset, but what about the invisible ties that bind those individuals together?

Modern businesses rightfully value critical thinking and resilience, but many tend to forget about one of the pillars of all strong relationships: Emotional intelligence, or EI.

EI is more than some trendy soft skill; it’s a vital element of rewarding people management. Here’s how cultivating this type of intelligence within your workforce can help you foster leadership that motivates and inspires.

But first….

What is emotional intelligence?

According to psychologists, emotional intelligence is your ability to identify, understand, and engage with emotions. This skill operates on two levels: in addition to being apt at recognising and managing other people’s emotions, someone with EI is also conscious of their own feelings.

Why are both areas so vital to effective leadership? Well, imagine you’re a leader who considers themselves good at dealing with other people’s feelings yet lacks emotional self-awareness. You recognise when your workers are worried or anxious and try to accommodate them. However, you pay no attention to how your emotional outbursts or mood swings affect those around you, completely cancelling out your attempts to be a “good boss.”

Unbalanced emotional intelligence can also go the opposite way. How would you regard a boss who was extremely good at self-accommodation yet didn’t extend the same basic consideration to you and your coworkers? Would they seem selfish, immature, or even toxically counterproductive?

Neither is an effective way to attract talented people or retain them.

Leaders who strike a healthy balance improve their performance, heighten workforce retention, boost morale, and motivate others to follow in their footsteps.

Using Emotional Intelligence training to improve the effectiveness of your leaders

Educating your management team about the meaning of EI isn’t that hard. Teaching them how to put it into practice, however, requires a more hands-on approach. Let’s drill down into the four core areas:

1. Self-awareness

This competency describes how well someone can recognise their own emotions, as well as how their feelings impact their own performance and their team’s output.

Self-awareness can be hard to get a handle on. One exercise for this involves having a manager compare their self-evaluations against what other people in their company say about them. When executed correctly in a non-confrontational way, comparing reviews can help leaders break free of any deep-seated or egocentric opinions and perspectives.

2. Social awareness

Do you recognise other people’s emotions? Would you say you can read a room?

Social awareness is critical to understanding how other people feel. Leaders who master this competency actively engage in empathy, whether they share the opinions of those they’re empathising with or not.

Once again, peer-group and organisational feedback are handy tools for building this skill, as is learning to listen to others receptively and openly. Simply getting used to hearing people talk and reason about their feelings makes it a lot easier to put yourself in their shoes.

3. Self-management

Managing your emotions can be tricky. After all, feelings tend to crop up unexpectedly sometimes in response to an event, a conversation or even a piece of music.

The problem arises when leaders allow their emotional reactions to determine how they interact with others. In such cases, the innate power imbalance between a boss and his/her team members can result in overwhelmingly hostile situations that make it impossible to maintain mutual respect.

That doesn’t mean you should suppress or hide your emotions; simply control them. Make a conscious decision about how you’ll act on your feelings instead of simply getting swept up in the moment or event that prompted them. Managers can try pausing, taking a deep breath, or if that doesn’t work, perhaps seeking help from their network of colleagues, peers or a coach to better manage such a situation.

Mindfulness, personal management, and other stressor-eliminators should be part of your business’s wellness programmes – think about adding them in if they’re not. Cultivating a more tranquil work environment could make it easier for your employees to self-manage effectively.

4. Relationship Management

Competent leaders go beyond mentoring and guiding others: they also smooth things over when people butt heads. Relationship management is an unavoidable part of a workplace environment, so it pays to invest in teaching leaders how to practice it.

Of course, you can’t simply enrol your execs in a few leadership courses and consider it sorted. As with any other area of performance, it’s vital to track progress and explore alternate techniques when the tried-and-tested falls short. For instance, you might consider conflict management techniques like focusing on behaviours instead of singling individuals out or delegating to HR when things get too heated.

Making your workplace actively practice Emotional Intelligence

Although business leaders agree that highly effective executives and EI go hand-in-hand, emotionally responsive people management isn’t just for upper-level staff. If you can’t implement it across the company, you’ll find it hard to create a business that people want to work for, and your ability to retain clients will likely suffer too.

Mastering EI is all about understanding the factors that contribute to workplace satisfaction and choosing to play a positive role in your employees’ outlooks.

At Lodge Court, we’re passionate about fostering your employees’ ability to relate to each other on an emotional and intellectual level. Let us help you cultivate leadership that genuinely responds to the needs of a modern workplace and the employees who keep it running. Find out how to get started.