Manage Your Emotions or Forget Leading
Effective leaders, those who practice democratic or servant leadership styles, understand the importance of emotional intelligence. They know that when they are aware of their emotions and the emotions of others, they make better decisions, resolve conflicts more effectively, create a positive work environment, build meaningful relationships, and inspire others to succeed. They value empathy, active listening, self-awareness, and effective communication, creating a supportive environment.
On the other hand, those who insist on clinging to outdated transactional or authoritarian leadership styles are missing the boat yet again. They fail to see that emotional intelligence is a key to unlocking long-term success. They prioritize the mislabeled “hard skills” and continue to lack empathy, have poor communication, and fail to build meaningful relationships with their team members. Their ridiculous excuses don’t hold water anymore:
- Lack of awareness. It’s hard to believe there are leaders unaware of the importance of emotional intelligence, but there are sleepwalkers among us. Emotional intelligence is not a fluffy, feel-good concept to ignore. It is a critical component of effective leadership that leads to greater team performance and improved organizational outcomes.
- Prioritization of “hard skills.” Technical skills are important, but they are the price of admittance. If you didn’t have them, you wouldn’t be employed. It’s the poorly named “soft skills” which are essential. Technical skills are useless if leaders can’t communicate effectively or inspire their team to do their best work.
- Lack of training. If it were important to them, they’d do it. Effective leaders take it upon themselves to seek training opportunities to develop their emotional intelligence skills. There are countless resources available online or through coaching and consulting services. Leaders who genuinely want to improve their leadership abilities take the initiative to invest in themselves and their teams.
- Fear of change. Leaders who are resistant to change hold themselves and their teams back. It’s time to embrace change and create an environment that values and encourages team members to develop their emotional intelligence skills.
Emotional intelligence in this age is not a “nice-to-have” skill; it’s a “need-to-have” skill. So, how can modern leaders develop their emotional intelligence? First, it’s essential to understand the key components: Self-Recognition, Social Recognition, Self-Management, and Social Management.
Self-Recognition is understanding one’s emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. Ways leaders can develop self-recognition:
- Practice mindfulness and self-reflection to become more aware of your emotions.
- Keep a journal to track your emotions and thoughts and reflect on how they impact your behavior.
- Seek feedback from others, and be open to constructive criticism.
- Take personality or emotional intelligence assessments to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
Social Recognition is understanding other people’s emotions and perspectives. Ways leaders can develop social recognition:
- Practice active listening by giving full attention to the person speaking and seeking to understand their point of view.
- Empathize with others; put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they might feel.
- Observe nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language to understand how others feel.
- Be culturally aware and sensitive to differences in values and beliefs.
Self-Management is regulating one’s own emotions and behavior. Ways leaders can develop self-management:
- Practice stress management techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Practice impulse control by pausing before reacting to a situation.
- Set realistic goals and prioritize tasks to manage time effectively.
- Develop emotional resilience to bounce back from setbacks.
Social Management is managing relationships and positively interacting with others. Ways leaders can develop social management:
- Develop strong communication skills, including active listening and giving feedback.
- Build trust by being honest, reliable, and consistent in behavior.
- Manage conflicts effectively by seeking win-win solutions.
- Foster a positive environment by recognizing and rewarding good work and creating a sense of community.
Once you understand the critical components of emotional intelligence, you can develop your skills in these areas. This may involve seeking training opportunities, such as online courses, coaching or consulting services, or attending workshops or conferences. But developing emotional intelligence isn’t just about taking classes or attending seminars. It’s about practicing these skills in everyday life. Begin to reflect on your emotions, practice mindfulness, and seek feedback from others to understand your perception better.
Work on your communication skills; actively listen to others and show empathy and understanding. Create an environment of emotional intelligence in your organization by modeling these behaviors and encouraging others to develop their emotional intelligence skills.
Emotional intelligence is critical for leaders who want to build effective teams and achieve long-term success. If you want to manage better and lead well, take action. It’s time to become the leader your team deserves.
Self-assessment to Gauge Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence Self-Assessment for Leaders
Instructions: Read each statement below and rate yourself on a scale of 1–5 based on how frequently you exhibit the behavior described. A rating of 1 indicates that the statement is almost never true for you, while a rating of 5 indicates that the statement is almost always true for you.
_____ I know my emotions and how they affect my behavior and decision-making.
_____ I regulate my emotions and stay calm in stressful or challenging situations.
_____ I effectively recognize and understand the emotions of others.
_____ I empathize with others and understand their perspectives.
_____ I effectively communicate my emotions and needs to others.
_____ I influence and inspire others with my emotional state and positive attitude.
_____ I effectively manage conflict and negotiate for win-win solutions.
_____ I effectively manage and motivate a team by understanding their emotional needs and motivations.
_____ I am able to learn from feedback and make adjustments to my behavior.
_____ I effectively cope with change and uncertainty by staying flexible and adaptable.
Scoring: Add up your scores for each statement to get a total score out of 50. The higher your score, the more developed your Emotional Intelligence is as a leader.
- 40–50: Excellent Emotional Intelligence skills.
- 30–39: Good Emotional Intelligence skills, with room for improvement in certain areas.
- 20–29: Fair Emotional Intelligence skills, with significant room for improvement in several areas.
- Below 20: Poor Emotional Intelligence skills, with significant room for improvement in all areas.
Note: This self-assessment is a tool to help you identify areas for improvement and development, not a formal diagnosis of your Emotional Intelligence level. It’s always a good idea to seek feedback from others and work with a coach or mentor to improve your Emotional Intelligence skills as a leader.
About Karl Bimshas
Karl Bimshas is a Boston-bred, California-chilled Leadership Consultant, Writer, and Podcast Host. As the founder of Karl Bimshas Consulting, he provides customized leadership development and accountability partnering to help employees and teams grow and succeed. Follow Karl for valuable advice on thriving in today’s workplace.