The person who first discovers literature on emotional intelligence might roll his or her eyes. It sometimes sounds like a new wave approach to meditation or consciousness raising. You have to read beyond the first paragraph to understand that emotional intelligence is something every leader needs to be aware of and cultivate.
It seems to be a common belief that a person’s IQ determines success and that is incorrect. Emotional intelligence is an intangible means by which a person handles social interactions and resolves problems. It is not the feet of genius; a person with average IQ can have better emotional intelligence than someone who on paper is smarter.
What is good to know about emotional intelligence is it is not rocket science. It does not require the acquisition of highly technical skills or some form of foreign language. Many of the traits may already be inherent in a person while others can be developed. Here are some of the more common emotional intelligence traits.
- An Appreciation of Strengths and Weaknesses. This is an ability to understand that you have strong points as well as deficiencies. You can use the strong characteristics to push forward and recognizing you have some false will help prevent these from blocking the road.
- A Good Judge of Character. Someone who can judge character is a student of people. They possess an ability to know about another individual and what their true motivations happen to be.
- You Can Handle Toxic Attitudes. There are people in the office who simply have abrasive attitudes. Anyone who has high emotional intelligence can handle such a person without losing control. There is an ability to find a solution and common ground, even when the toxic person is almost impossible.
- Change Is Not Frightening. Those with good emotional intelligence understand the need to be flexible and adaptive. They are open to change and prepare for it as often as possible.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
A good leader always should work to improve skills. Emotional intelligence is not innate and can be developed. However, this is not something that can be done in a two-day seminar developing strong emotional intelligence qualities is going to take time and effort.
- Observe your behavior under given conditions. It is not always easy to work when you’re angry or frustrated. To cultivate better emotional intelligence, note how you behave under these emotions. You can then easily decide how to make changes in the way you react under given conditions.
- Take Responsibility. The behavior you exhibit is not the fault or caused by another party. You decide how you react, and you also learn from noting the behaviors you exhibit. Taking responsibility can help interactions you have with other people.
- Less Reacting, and More Responding. Reaction is the mother of all snap decisions. These can have very serious consequences that are not easy to responding is a better way to handle given situations. It requires a little bit of thinking prior to dealing with a given individual. This thought process results in answers that are less driven by sharp words.
- Build a Positive Environment. A leader certainly has control over this in the workplace. Positive environment is not simply pretty pictures and nice flowers. It is a working atmosphere where everything is not negative. It is true there are days when things are rough and the challenges seem insurmountable. Nevertheless, a leader must always look for the silver lining in the gray cloud bank. Those positive points are there and they can be used to mitigate what could be depressing moments.
- When in Doubt, Use Empathy. Joe South was a very popular singer back in the 60s. One of his best songs was entitled, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” The lyrics of the tune urge that “before you abuse, criticize, or accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.” Being able to relate to the person’s situation is going to create responses that are more humane.
Developing emotional intelligence is going to require a lot of self-analysis. A leader should review personal feelings and how to modify relationships based on better understanding. The modern workforce expects leaders to do more than just play everything by the book. A certain level of responsiveness is expected. Those leaders who are aware of emotional intelligence, and work to improve their own, will be able to accomplish a considerable amount of work.