Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. The term was coined by two researchers, Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and then later popularized by American psychologist, Daniel Goleman, in his 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence. Essentially, emotional intelligence encompasses the practice of skillfully expressing one’s own emotions and having the ability to manage interpersonal relationships with empathy.
Given the challenges business leaders face today, including the Great Reimagination of work, burnout, and a focus on employee health and well-being, leaders need to lead with empathy, compassion, and collaboration — all of which require high levels of emotional intelligence (emotional quotient or EQ).
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important for Effective Leadership?
McKinsey & Co. reports that “the top three reasons for employees leaving a job were: not feeling valued by their organization, not feeling valued by managers, and not feeling a sense of belonging at work.” When further researched, it was revealed that employees who left their jobs had managers with low levels of emotional intelligence. These leaders were found to be:
- Highly opinionated
- Insensitive and self-centered
- Keen to blame others
- Lacking motivation
- Unpredictable when it comes to emotional outbursts
- Lacking social skills
And, according to a recent study, there is a 31% gap in leadership development effectiveness between organizations with emotionally intelligent leaders and employees versus those without. "Effective leadership now requires proactively leading oneself and others," shares TLD Group faculty member, Jenifer Hill, MA, PCC, BSS, PCC-S. "Gone are the days where people simply listen for hierarchy's sake. We want to feel a genuine connection to a stable, self-aware leader while simultaneously being heard and understood. Emotional intelligence paves the way for leaders to begin making the internal shifts needed to lead self while also adhering to the needs of their teams". Clearly, developing emotional intelligence skills is vital for leaders who want to:
- Retain employees
- Boost employee engagement
- Bolster team morale and motivation
Jenifer Hill, MA, PCC, BCC, PCC-S, is deeply passionate about her work supporting physician leaders and developing critical emotional intelligence skills. "With burnout, moral injury, and mental health issues at the highest we have seen in physicians, the need to integrate caring for self and then others has never been more evident,” said Jenifer in a recent webinar on Capitalizing on Emotional Intelligence to Effectively Lead at Northeast Georgia Health System.
“For decades, the ‘patient first’ approach has been the cornerstone of medicine, depriving physicians of time to eat and sleep, let alone be tuned into their own emotional literacy and how it impacts others. But this cornerstone is crumbling. Physicians can’t live and work under these conditions much longer. They need and want to be more than their role as ‘doctor’ and also be emotionally available for those they love and care for. But, without emotional intelligence, they can’t first live and lead self and then others – which is the ideal approach for sustainability and overall health. We must let the healers focus on self before we don’t have a choice in the matter.”
What are the Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence?
According to Daniel Goleman, there are 5 primary characteristics of emotional intelligence — self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills:
Self-awareness: The ability to know oneself and acknowledge how one’s actions, thoughts, and emotions align or misalign with one’s internal standards. Having self-awareness enables you to objectively evaluate yourself and understand how others perceive you, adequately manage your emotions, and realign your behavior to match your values.
Self-regulation: The ability to control one's behavior, emotions, and thoughts in an effort to accomplish long-term goals. Essentially, if you have self-regulation capabilities, you’ll be able to effectively manage disruptive emotions and impulses.
Motivation: Having the desire or willingness to do something or accomplish a goal. Motivation is what inspires you to act and guides and maintains your goal-oriented behaviors.
Empathy: The ability to deeply understand the emotions of others, feel things from their perspective, and picture oneself in another’s place. Ultimately, if you have the capability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they must be feeling, you have the ability to be empathetic.
Social skills: The skills people use to interact with others and communicate through verbal and nonverbal means, through gestures, body language, and personal appearance. For example, if an employee approaches you with an issue and you don’t look them in the eyes, or your back is turned away from them, they’re likely to feel as though you don’t genuinely care about their concerns.
4 Steps to Developing Emotional Intelligence
We share below 4 steps you can take to develop your EQ skills.
1. Think Before Taking Action
Those with high EQ consider circumstances, reason, and emotion before speaking or taking action. Thinking before taking action allows one to mitigate the risk of lashing out in harsh behavior or negatively impacting another person or yourself.
2. Learn to Identify Your Emotional Strengths and Weaknesses
Developing emotional intelligence requires you to be able to recognize your emotions. Through 1:1 executive coaching, you can work with an expert to develop greater emotional awareness and to learn emotion language to define your emotional state. The importance of this step is to develop the skills to recognize your emotions, positive and negative, and to identify areas of improvement. Are you quick to anger? Do you have trouble managing stress? Assessment and executive coaching can help.
3. Regulate Your Feelings and Emotions
Once you’ve identified areas of improvement in regards to your emotional behaviors, it’s important to develop a plan to regulate and better manage your emotions. Being able to regulate your emotions to avoid repercussions from temper outbursts or other undesired actions is key to developing a high level of emotional intelligence.
Take a look at this case story, where this coachee improved his collaborative skills and relationships with his staff at all levels of the institution by enhancing emotional awareness and self-regulation.
4. Develop Skills to Be Able to Identify the Emotions of Others
Being able to adjust your thinking and behavior to best suit another’s emotional state is a vital characteristic of an effective leader. Work with a leadership development coach to gain the ability to identify and acknowledge the emotions of others, especially those of co-workers, employees, and other partnerships.
When asked about her leadership development experience with TLD Group, Executive Vice President of Yale-New Haven Health, Diane Kelly, said, “My coach was extremely helpful with looking at things from different perspectives. Moreover, she provided the insight and wisdom to remind me to be mindful, not reactionary. She helped me to think certain situations through.”
According to the Human Capital Institute, 37% of organizations use emotional intelligence assessments to help inform their leadership development programs. Our leadership development assessments measure emotional intelligence and a plethora of other criteria to help you discover and strengthen your EQ and leadership skills.
Get in touch with our cadre of leadership experts to start your journey towards emotional intelligence to effectively communicate, collaborate, and resolve conflict.