Emotional intelligence: The special ingredient to effective leadership

Posted in Business and entrepreneurship.

Effective leadership is the cornerstone of business success. Employees doing their best alone doesn’t necessarily mean it works well for the whole business. People need to work together to ensure outcomes are achieved. This is where leadership comes into play. Coordination between separate entities, guidance and motivation, and managing goals and deadlines are all roles of leaders. While good leaders require many organisational and interpersonal skills, this article will highlight the significance of emotional intelligence and its role in fueling overall business success.

Emotional intelligence explained

Emotional intelligence (EI) is also referred to as the emotional quotient (EQ) is sort of the emotional “equivalent” to the intelligence quotient (IQ). It isn’t a one-to-one comparison, but it acknowledges the role of emotions in decision making and interpersonal skills. It encompasses a set of skills that revolve around managing, identifying, understanding, and channelling emotions in oneself and others.

The kinds of skills encompassed by EI that are relevant to leaders include self-awareness, empathy, communication, conflict resolution, adaptability, motivation, and decision-making. The crux of EI hinges on understanding emotions granted by self-awareness and empathy. When one is in touch with their own emotions, they are better able to regulate those emotions effectively. Understanding emotions in others allows one to better interact with others. This enables effective communication, preventing miscommunications and catering to the audience – which can make leaders quite motivational – and applying their EI to conflict resolution. Workplaces are social environments and being able to adapt within those environments are essential for handling the variety of tasks mandated. Furthermore, EI involves the mediation of logical thinking with their effects on emotional creatures like human beings.

On an abstract level, it is clear how EI makes a good leader. People have their own emotions separate from others and good leaders know how to work with that. Group dynamics, fairness, morale, and individual interpersonal relationships are all socio psychological factors that leaders are required to juggle. Within business, these need to further be weighed against productivity, business interest, and other logical factors that businesses survive by.

Emotional intelligence applied to the workplace

The effects of EI naturally extends to leadership in business and overall business success. A business machine functions through the cogs of its employees; ensuring that each piece of the puzzle fits with the pieces around it leads to a splendid picture. The role of a leader is to envision the final image and sort the pieces into the right places. Almost all of the pieces involving living, breathing people require emotion to be taken into account for full efficacy.

Workplace leaders are integral for setting workplace culture. There is something known as trickle-down company culture. What this means is that culture and pervasive ideas and behaviours flow from higher hierarchies to lower hierarchies. Emotionally intelligent leaders should be able to see how their presented persona affects those led by them. This organisational culture eventually presents itself to internal and external parties and in turn affects their perception of the business.

In an era where employees seek more than just financial compensation, EI is a powerful tool for retaining existing talent and attracting new employees. No one wants to be just a number, not to their immediate business compatriots. A leader who is aware of those under them, acknowledging them in ways that mean something to them, invokes inspiration and engagement. This is tightly linked to morale and motivation. Great leaders who consistently produce long-term benefits know that morale directly influences productivity; they logically understand that, but also have the capacity – the EI necessary – to effectively act on this knowledge. Furthermore, EI is necessary for facilitating proper collaboration. Mediation is an EI-based skill and bringing the best out of someone is a characteristic of leaders with high EI.

And this all presents itself indirectly to the outside world. Customer-facing employees are the physical representation of a business to customers. As emotions often present themselves unconsciously through body language, so too is the internal work environment displayed through the attitudes and behaviours of customer-facing employees. Employees are more patient, accommodating, helpful, and positive when this is reflected in the business itself and customers can pick up on this.

However, it all starts with emotionally intelligent leaders.