Your Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is your ability to see, evaluate and act on or control feelings and emotions: yours, those of others and of a group.
It is the core leadership skill because it regulates both your self-management and all your thoughts, behaviours and responses to other people.
You are not a machine; you as a leader are an individual who can be as emotionally swayed as anyone else. The problem with being the leader is that if you don’t maintain awareness of your feelings and emotions, and regulate them accordingly, there is a far greater chance of you creating a dysfunctional company over time. This isn’t about being emotionless: this is about being exceptionally good about unleashing the emotions that optimise your performance and the performance of others, and managing those feelings and emotions that don’t.
Emotions are also heavily tied-into your thinking skills. They impact how you think as well providing you with information to guide how you think and act. Critical thinking, creativity and decision-making – primary leadership skills – are therefore also impacted by your EQ.
Finally, good leadership obviously involves others choosing to be lead by you. It is vital then for you to develop your skills at understanding their feelings and emotions, what causes them – both individually and collectively – and then being sufficiently competent in managing those feelings and emotions.
In summary, if you concentrate on your emotional intelligence as a core leadership skill, you work on the leadership skill which has the biggest impact on becoming the best leader you can be.
Psychology has a number of different models which variously define EQ. Rather than getting caught up in the differences, the 7 important elements to be aware of for your leadership development are listed below:
- Self-awareness – your ability to remain mindful of your feelings, emotions and how they change from moment to moment. Awareness is one of the hardest skills to master as it involves being able to stop, inwardly focus and then tease apart the different ways you are feeling. Without this though, the other elements of EQ are very difficult to master.
- Attention – we tend to give our attention to things that emotionally stimulate us. As an effective leader you need to manage your attention to ensure that you optimise your effectiveness, regardless of whether this is for creativity or efficiency.
- Personal motivation – this has two primary aspects. First is clarity on your personal goals and targets over the short to long term. Second is self-knowledge of your values and beliefs and how they impact on how you think and act.
- Thinking & reasoning – feelings can very quickly hijack your ability to think clearly. Creativity is dramatically impacted if your emotions are in control of you. Just as important is the feedback loop of information that emotional awareness provides to help guide what we think and then do.
- Self-regulation – self management and correct control via the application of your attention is the primary tool at your disposal as an emotionally intelligent leader. How good you are at managing yourself materially impacts how strong your foundation is for controlling and managing the feelings and emotions of others in a way that optimises your business performance.
- Understanding – the ability to understand the feelings of others, understand what is causing those feelings & emotions and then empathise with them as required.
- Interpersonal/ social skills – this is our toolkit for managing others. There are two aspects: the range of skills we can use to manage and control the emotions of others. Listening skills, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, persuasion and delegation can be included here. The second aspect is the explicit use of your emotions to evoke feelings and emotional responses in others.
Emotional intelligence, however defined, is argued by many – including the team behind Constant Mentor – as being central to your success as a leader. Everything else attaches to, or is built on this foundation skill.