Enhancing emotional intelligence may not seem top of an employer’s list of priorities but having a leadership team with strong interpersonal skills can make a big difference to the bottom line in the same way that strong technical skills can.
Acting intelligently with our emotions can enhance decision making, behaviour and performance. It can help to improve communication and collaboration by helping to connect people. People work best in their jobs when they feel genuinely valued, consulted, respected, informed and understood and emotional intelligence in leaders is key in boosting these feelings and ultimately, employee engagement.
Why is emotional intelligence important?
A manager with good emotional intelligence can perceive, reason with, understand and manage the emotions of others and themselves. A leader with strong interpersonal skills will help employees manage stress and conflict and will create a happier workforce who feel more understood. Emotional intelligence can be learned and improved upon and coaching in the techniques can help but it has to be put into practice to work.
Perceiving how others are can help to get the best from them. Understanding how to motivate different employees, empathise when necessary and use social skills to manage a team will get the best from that team. If an employee lacks confidence you can empathise and praise as much as possible. Another employee who is over-confident may need persuading to be more realistic.
If you are self-aware, you know your emotions and how your emotions can affect those around you. As a leader, you will have a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Self-regulation will mean that you rarely verbally attack others or make emotional decisions and you stay in control. It is possible, with guidance, to develop a better understanding of yourself and to be aware of your own behaviours and you can therefore develop an ability to regulate them when necessary.
A person with high emotional intelligence will be motivated by their team’s success and not just their own. People with these interpersonal skills play a critical role in improving team collaboration as they can be seen as a stabilising force within that team.
Empathy from a leader can improve performance. Put yourself in your employee’s position, pay attention to body language – this can help you to understand how they really feel. Are they saying there are fine but have crossed arms which doesn’t match with what they are saying? If you respond well to feelings such as disappointment, anger or anxiety in an employee – your relationship with that person is likely to be good.
Managers with good social skills are also generally better at managing conflict and change by demonstrating understanding. They are good at praising others and are good communicators. Managing conflict can be helped with coaching as this can be an area of worry for some leaders as they don’t know where to start.
How can coaching help?
If a leader lacks self-awareness, keeping a diary can help. Noting thoughts can help develop self-awareness by reflecting on incidents during the working day and can lead to them exhibiting different behaviours when a similar situation occurs in the future.
Coaching can help a great deal. For example, if you don’t understand how to handle an employee who causes conflict within the team or you don’t recognise the signs when an employee is stressed by a particular task, coaching can improve your emotional intelligence and can help you to take a step back before applying what you’ve learned.
Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you need to improve your emotional intelligence and its application in the workplace.