Emotional intelligence seems to be a bit of a buzzword or common phrase nowadays – but what does it even mean? To some, it may be seen as soft skills, a bit wishy washy and not worth serious attention. But according to the experts, it’s essential if you want to succeed as a manager. You would be super-human if emotionally intelligent all of the time – and also a bit robotic and no-one wants a robot for a boss! If however, you prove to be the antithesis of emotionally intelligent, i.e. having very little regard for the impact of your behaviour on others or ability or desire to understand the weird behaviour of your team, then you will probably struggle to succeed.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as reasonably high scoring on the emotional intelligence spectrum but the truth is we are probably somewhere in the middle with some strengths and other areas where we clearly need to put some work in. The good news is that as we get older, the natural process of maturity increases our emotional intelligence but then it can go downhill if we don’t make a conscious effort to work on our self-awareness and be open to feedback.
Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, made emotional intelligence accessible to us by identifying the practical and measurable steps we can take to improve our performance.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions as well as those around you. There are five key areas that Goleman identified:
Being ‘a witness to ourselves’ is not easy – we do not see ourselves as others see us – but focusing on the impact our behaviour will have on others before acting, and actively seeking feedback bravely from our critics rather than our known fans will help.
Self-regulation is about staying in control – having a self-check on a rush of emotions and not acting impulsively or behaving in a defensive or verbally abusive way. Practise being calm, taking some deep breaths and don’t be afraid to admit mistakes and take responsibility for your actions.
Demonstrating your own motivation towards your goals and high standards will be encouraging and inspiring for your team. Keep reminding yourself what you love about what you do and why it matters. Try and focus on the positive especially when times are tough.
If you want to earn respect and loyalty from your team, then show them you care by being empathetic. Being able to listen without judgement and really understand the position of others will help you to develop your team, building on strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.
5. Social Skills
This is about good communication skills. Be a good listener and open to bad news as well as good. Be able to respond with clarity and enthusiasm. Show a willingness to communicate and especially practise giving praise and acknowledgement. Get out of the office and ‘walk-the-job’. Engage with your team.