What is Emotional Intelligence and Empathy? Why It is Important to Leaders and Managers?
Emotional intelligence or EI is your capacity to understand and manage your emotions along with the emotions of people around you. It is also the ability to empathize and influence the emotions of those around you. But let’s understand more. How can emotional intelligence and empathy benefit you? Why is it an important quality of leaders and managers? All this and more are below!
What does emotional intelligence mean?
As aforementioned, emotional intelligence is the capability to manage and control your emotions and the emotions of those around you.
For some, emotional intelligence is a character they are born with. You might have noticed how some people are more empathetic than others. How some people feel the pain of tragedy more than others. That being said, it is something you can develop and get better at.
Why is emotional intelligence important to leaders and managers?
Let’s imagine a scenario. You have been promoted and you are the new manager. You have a great team and everyone respects you and is working very hard to fulfil the goals you have set for them. But, after a week, a member of your team is feeling low. And there is another one who now seems angry most of the time.
But you are unable to comprehend these emotions. So, you don’t really do anything about this. And another week goes by and the morale of the team is down. This is because negative feelings can be contagious. In fact, studies suggest that just like you can catch germs from other people, it is easy to catch other people’s moods too. So, this is why emotional intelligence is exceptionally essential for leaders and managers because you have the power to make a difference.
Let’s say, the first time you noticed someone feeling low in the team, you tackled it then and there. You asked your junior what seemed to be the problem and although personal, you were able to offer your support, which helped her feel better. When you spoke to the angry young man, you understood his dissatisfaction with the job and you were able to give him something more challenging according to his caliber, which made him happy. When you can keep the atmosphere positive, the outcome of the work will also be productive.
What are the top 5 characteristics of emotional intelligence in leaders?
The below-mentioned characteristics are something you can develop easily. Take a look.
Self-awareness plays a crucial role for a leader as this helps you recognize your emotions and streamline them when necessary. When you are self-aware, you are also able to see your strengths and weaknesses like ego or envy, which can adversely affect your leadership qualities.
How to improve? Don’t ever react immediately. Take a moment for yourself. In any situation, critical thinking is imperative. And when you react, make sure it is the right one and never the one influenced by emotions. Finally, ignore assumptions. Some of us have the quality of jumping to conclusions. Always rely on facts and never assumptions because most of the time they are deceiving.
Think of yourself as an employee, a new one. What do you look for in your boss? Someone who is fair, who can help you grow, and doesn’t lash out if anything goes wrong. So, this is what you need to be. Be firm yet fair and never compromise with the work ethic. If you are a fun boss, that’s great. But it must never interfere with your work.
How to improve? Be yourself and be calm. What does this mean? First, as a boss, you must always maintain your calm aura. Second, never try to copy anyone. Be yourself. Just make sure you are a mix of firm and fun, so people feel comfortable with you.
Motivation is why we do things in life. When you are motivated, you have the zeal to work towards your goals consistently. So, as a boss, not only must you remain motivated, but you must also ensure the employees are motivated.
How to improve? Optimism is the key. When you think happy thoughts, you automatically feel motivated because you can look at the bigger picture and this will help you keep your team motivated too.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And for a leader, empathy is a crucial skill. This will help you develop your team members and ensure you easily navigate through tricky situations. When you are empathetic, your work atmosphere becomes positive.
Let’s take a small example. Your team member has been coming late for the last two days. She is someone who is always on time. So, today when she is late for the third time, you don’t lash out or send her to HR. You talk to her. Ask if everything is okay and empathize with the situation. You tell her to take a day off to sort out the situation, so she can come on time and fully concentrate on her work.
How to improve? Learn to understand body language. Try to see what someone’s expression is telling you about the situation. Build an understanding first as it will help you with empathy.
Soft skills are essential when you are a leader. You must learn how you can make emotional connections with just your communication. Leaders who master soft skills can deliver bad news with ease and celebrate good news in a way that the entire team feels like they are a part of it.
How to improve? Always be confident and make use of the four points mentioned above. This will help you improve your soft skills.
Benefits for the Leader
Some of the benefits you can experience as a leader when you develop the right quantity and quality of emotional intelligence are;
A highly motivated team
Loyalty amongst your team
An increased sense of awareness
A healthy collaboration between the team
Less stress environment
These advantages will cumulatively help you grow sooner than later.
Benefits for the Organization
Some of the benefits you can experience as an organization when you show emotional intelligence include;
Better team engagement
Improves company culture
Helps achieve high performance-driven results
To sum it up, emotional intelligence in leaders and managers comprises empathy, self-awareness, the right social skills, motivation, and understanding. These skills help you become a better leader and ensure your subordinates can look up to you. It builds a healthy environment and drives performance-oriented results. To gain these skills, check our comprehensive course here.
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