One of the most important aspects of leadership is managing a team of people. When you are in a position of leadership, you’re responsible for setting the tones and values within your organization. Leaders need to be empathetic, self-aware, and emotionally aware of the situations around them. Another word for this is emotional intelligence. This is, essentially, the ability to perceive, control and analyze emotion. Without this ability, you run the risk of making your employees feel alienated and unimportant. Emotional intelligence influences our ability to collaborate and respond accordingly to others, so there should be no question how and why being emotionally intelligent impacts leadership. It is, by far, the most important skill one needs to cultivate as a leader. Unfortunately, there is a woeful lack of emotional intelligence in corporate America, and that’s why we spoke to a handful of industry professionals to get their take on how emotional intelligence impacts leadership. If you’re interested in how emotional intelligence can impact leadership, keep reading! We’ll find that emotional intelligence is at the core of most management and leadership skills and it affects every aspect of our lives in the workplace.
An Essential Skill
Emotional intelligence is such an important skill, it affects all aspects of leadership. It will allow you to empathize with your team and make better decisions together. “Emotional awareness and intelligence is something that is absolutely essential for leadership roles. If you can’t adapt and work with your team’s emotions and control your own, it will inhibit your ability to collaborate and work with others at your company,” Jorge Vivar, Creative Director of mode.
If you are in a position of leadership, it is your responsibility to be emotionally intelligent. If you do not do so, you run the risk of letting your entire team and company down and leading them towards failure. “Leaders have a responsibility to be emotionally intelligent and responsive. If they are not, one could question how they are in a position of leadership in the first place. When you are supervising people, you must be in tune with actual human emotions and feelings and that means accessing some vulnerability within oneself. That’s a scary thing, but something you’ll be forced to face as a leader. Leadership is for the vulnerable, not necessarily just the strong,” said Eric Elggren, Co-Founder of Andar.
Collaboration and Organization
Another term for being emotionally intelligent is being self aware. “When we can be self aware of how we respond to things and what energy we bring into a room, it can result in more effective collaborations between team members and between departments at a company,” said Lauren Singer of Package Free Shop. Being self aware of one’s emotions allows for better and fuller collaboration and better delegation of individuals’ time. “Emotional intelligence speaks not only to your ability to control and recognize emotions, but also to your ability to self organize and organize within your team. Deep emotional intelligence allows you to collaborate and delegate within your company fairly and within reason of what people’s individual strengths and weaknesses are,” said Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos Agency.
With emotional intelligence, you’ll have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses which will allow you to delegate tasks more efficiently as well. “Having an honest understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses helps you be a better leader because it humanizes you. The more self aware you can be, the better you’ll be able to recognize the strong and weak points within your company and how those things can be changed over time. Self awareness is a huge part of emotional intelligence and is something every leader should be in tune with,” said James Shalhoub, Co-founder of Finn.
We never want them to happen, but conflicts do arise at work. If you are an emotionally intelligent leader, you’ll be able to calmly handle disagreements between team members and use them as an opportunity to collaborate. “Emotionally intelligent leaders will have a great ability to resolve conflict within their teams. When leaders can genuinely understand how two people are feeling in their company, they will be able to make better and calmer decisions. Of course, no one hopes for conflict, but it helps to have a sense of one’s own emotions when leading a team of others,” said Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO of Diathrive.
It’s important when conflicts arise to not shy away from them. No one likes conflict, but sometimes it just comes with the territory of being a leader. “Leaders should be equipped to not shy away from conflict in the workplace. That doesn’t mean seeking it out, but dealing with issues as they arise will save you both time and money managing your team and getting issues resolved in a timely manner. If you tend to avoid conflict, this may be an aspect of your emotional well being to look into and consider some changes to make,” said Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder & CEO of OSDB Sports. Conflict resolution means that your employees will trust you and come to you with internal issues at the company. “Being emotionally intelligent and responsive to your employees’ concerns will help foster trust at your workplace. Without trust, your team will likely not bring issues to your attention, resulting in those issues getting exacerbated without a resolution. This can lead to employees leaving and headaches for your HR department,” said Dan Lewis of Convoy.
Prioritize and Set the Tone
This can also help you determine when to get involved in a project. “Being emotionally intelligent about your own feelings can help you distinguish between things that actually are problems and things that don’t require your attention. Micromanaging is one of the biggest ways you can make your team feel unworthy, and emotionally intelligent leaders will be more likely to take a back seat and let their employees do what they were hired to do,” said Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of HIDE.
Most importantly, you as the leader set the tone, energy and values of your whole organization. If you set the tone of being unsympathetic and emotionally unaware, you risk letting other employees think that it’s ok. “As a leader of an organization, you set the tone for how the whole operation goes. So if you tend to approach things without being emotionally and self aware, that attitude will bleed into the rest of the company. Emotionally intelligent leaders can set a good example for other employees and create a clear system of values within their organization,” said Lauren Kleinman, Co-founder of The Quality Edit.
Emotional intelligence is the most important skill a leader needs to have to effectively lead their team to success. For one, it affects our ability to collaborate, an important skill in and of itself. Secondly, it impacts our ability to resolve conflict and solve problems within a team of employees. Emotional intelligence will save you time in productivity by being able to resolve conflicts easily and move forward with a project or goal without wasting time arguing. Thirdly, your emotional intelligence will set the tone for your entire company. Anything and everything you do as a leader will reflect your ability to recognize, control and navigate emotions both within themselves and the emotions of their team and people around them. This is something that will show through easily, and a lack of emotional intelligence can make for toxic and unempathetic work environments resulting in a bad reputation for your company and high employee turnover. Regardless of your perceived level of emotional intelligence, consider unpacking your reactions and responses to situations and ask yourself if you’re reacting emotionally. This will help you pause and reflect on your actions in the future.