Inspiration, motivation, negotiation, delegation. These are just a few of the key functions of a leader, and they all have one thing in common: people.
As should be clear from the name, leadership is first and foremost about working with people both internally and externally to lead an organisation towards
its goals. And to do this well requires emotional intelligence (EQ).
In a previous article, we explained
what EQ is and how it can be used in the workplace. In this article, we examine emotional intelligence in the context of leadership to show how boosting
your EQ can make you a better leader.
Motivating high performance
Motivation and performance in the workplace are closely linked, and part of your role as leader is to find out how best to motivate your team to work together
towards your organisation’s goals. There has been plenty of research in recent years showing that motivating employees is much less about paying high salaries and much more about inspiration
and showing how their contributions can lead to meaningful outcomes. With increased EQ, you will be better equipped to identify and provide the right
motivation for your team.
Setting a positive example
As a leader, sooner or later you will encounter a crisis, and how you react will set the tone for your organisation. If you want to foster a workplace
where your team keeps its cool in the face of stressful situations, you need to lead by example. This requires self-management as you maintain control
of your emotions to respond thoughtfully and strategically when faced with chaos, rather than acting rashly.
Harnessing your power to influence
Negotiation is a key component of leadership, and part of your job as a leader is to use your influence to bring about compromise. Having strong EQ skills
enables you to better recognise the effect you have on others from an emotional standpoint. While negotiating, this can help you recognise when a certain
behaviour – for example, friendliness, directness or firmness – may help you achieve your desired response from the other party in the negotiation.
Avoiding or overcoming conflict
When there is tension or conflict within a team, organisational performance suffers. As a leader, you help your team become more cohesive and effective
by managing relationships, and EQ can help you find the best way to smooth ruffled feathers through social communication. According to this
Harvard Business Review article, you can also take it one step further by encouraging the development of emotional intelligence at the team
level, which can assist in heading off conflict at the source.
Fostering a positive work environment
Employees who are struggling or unhappy are unlikely to produce their best work. With empathy – an important aspect of EQ – you can better understand
your employees’ needs and show that you care about their well-being. Your job as leader includes maintaining open lines of communication so that
you can be plugged into how your team is feeling and what needs to be done to create or maintain a positive work environment.
Leading with EQ
Being a leader involves juggling diverse challenges and needs simultaneously, and more often than not this involves managing people effectively. By
boosting your EQ with a deeper awareness of your own emotions and those of others, you will be in a better position to manage people in a positive
and productive way.
The best leaders are skilled at getting others to buy into their vision, and the greater your EQ, the smoother this process will be.