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How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence as a Strategic Leader

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How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence as a Strategic Leader

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The benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace and how to develop it to enhance your leadership skills and business strategy.

It’s no secret that emotional intelligence is a valuable skill for business leaders. However, many CEOs struggle to cultivate it within their team. Read along as we discuss the benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace and how to develop it to enhance your leadership skills and business strategy.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is “the ability to perceive, interpret, demonstrate, control, evaluate and use emotions to communicate with and relate to others effectively and constructively. Some experts suggest that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ for success in life,” (Verywell Mind).

Utilizing emotional intelligence can help facilitate open communication and strengthen relationships between executives, managers and employees, creating an improved work culture overall. It’s important for leaders to not only know how to foster emotional intelligence within themselves but how to encourage it from their team as well.

5 pillars of emotional intelligence

In his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence, psychologist and author Daniel Goleman crafts a framework in which leaders can leverage five key traits to successfully implement emotional intelligence in the workplace. These traits are influenced both by experience and intuitiveness. The five pillars are:

1. Self-awareness:

Our emotions do not only affect us, they affect those around us as well. The ability to recognize your own emotional state and its impact on others is a skill that can be developed over time. For example, employees may be reluctant to ask for help if they can see that their boss is already stressed out with other tasks. While you should not hide your emotions, it’s important to be cognizant of how they come across to others.

2) Self-regulation:

Though we can’t always control our emotions, we can control the way we react to them. Self-regulation (impulse control) is critical to maintaining good relationships in the workplace. Leaders who are able to check themselves before reacting are better able to handle difficult situations and are more respectable.

Self-regulation also promotes accountability as it helps create a clear set of expectations for how to act in the workplace.

3) Motivation:

Goleman writes, “Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.”

Motivating your employees is perhaps the most important action toward achieving alignment within your team. When all team members are motivated and focused on the same goal, you are more likely to hit your targets. Motivate your employees by setting clear objectives, celebrating wins and victories, and recognizing individual contributions.

4. Empathy:

Empathic leaders are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and act with fairness. They are generally well-liked by employees, as they are more understanding and able to relate on a personal level. Having empathy does not just mean caring about others — it means being able to recognize others’ emotions even when they are not forthcoming and being able to conduct conversations appropriately with the other person’s emotional state in mind.

A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that “managers who practiced empathetic leadership toward direct reports were viewed as better performers by their bosses.” Empathic leadership is not restricted to C-suite executives — managers and other level employees can benefit from practicing empathy at work.

5. Social skills:

Social skills like active listening and verbal/nonverbal communication will lead to stronger trust among a team. Leaders with social skills are better communicators and know how to work with different types of people. Effective communication is one of the most important skills for a leader to have and proves useful when addressing issues or tough topics. Having good social skills also makes leaders appear more approachable to their team members, enabling positive working relationships and an effective feedback loop.

Benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace

Exhibiting emotional intelligence in your business can lead to countless improvements, from enhanced performance to a better culture. We’ve outlined a few of the main benefits below:

  • Team alignment: Rally your team members around a common goal. This creates cohesiveness across the board and helps ensure no boxes in your strategic execution are left unchecked.
  • Increased productivity: Employees will work harder and faster with the right motivation. They will be encouraged to ask questions for clarity and explore new ideas as they work toward the specified company goals.
  • Increased transparency and accountability: Emotional awareness is a desirable trait among leaders when it comes to the way employees see them. This prompts them to be more open and truthful with their team, creating opportunities for increased transparency in the company. By being upfront about certain initiatives, metrics and company information, leaders gain trust and understanding from their team. Establishing this kind of transparency and accountability helps fill in gaps and ensures that the right people are working toward the right goals.
  • Better communication: Communication is king when it comes to getting anything done as a team, and it’s easier to communicate when you know how you feel. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to effectively express what is needed in a way that can be understood by others. They are also good listeners and know how to get a point across while also taking into account the other person’s viewpoints and opinions. This ties into the pillar of self-regulation, as being able to control impulsive responses is another important part of effective communication.
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Sentrepreneur is an entrepreneur, investor and author. He is known as a pervader of work and lifestyle optimizations.

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