Why emotional intelligence is a vital skill to develop for business leaders and managers
There has been a lot of talk recently about the importance of emotional intelligence. Whilst we all agree it is an important skill to have, recent observations have shown me it’s more than this: it is what sets great leaders and managers apart from the rest. I’m sure that for many, this is no surprise. What surprised me were the reasons why.
Emotions as a driving force
We are all humans, and emotions are an integral part of our lives. They give us valuable data and inspire us to move forward, towards opportunities that motivate us, or away from things in order to protect ourselves. In today’s fast-paced world, leaders have to understand the power our emotions have on us and their impact on our actions in order to manage us effectively.
During the pandemic, stress levels and constant uncertainty meant that high levels of emotional intelligence were required from leaders. Now that the world is pretty much back to normal… Actually, it’s not. Evidence continues to show that our window of tolerance for stress has become smaller over the last few years, and that the strain on employees’ mental health and wellbeing remains. We have all gone through difficult situations. We may be more impacted by things, and our ability to deal with stressful situations has been greatly affected.
Self-awareness as a leadership skill
How can great leaders use emotional intelligence at a time when resilience is starting to wear thin in all of us? I believe self-awareness is what allows them to overcome challenges, and better support their team through uncertainty and change. Entrepreneurial leaders understand what drives their people and adopt the response that’s likely to generate the best results. By understanding the emotions that come up for them, they are able to self-regulate, and then use this primary means of self-awareness to understand others much better. These abilities lead to higher engagement and motivation levels, they boost productivity and ultimately, retain people within the business.
What happens when team leaders don’t lead in this way?
As we are not working from shared offices as much as we used to, it can be easy to miss important cues, to not pick up on what’s going on and therefore to respond in ways that demotivate our people, or create a toxic work environment.
A continued focus on EI for businesses
There is no doubt that adopting an emotionally intelligent leadership style has positive impacts on businesses and their employees. What I am now noticing is the importance for organisations to continue to strengthen this skill amongst their leaders and managers. Things haven’t quite gone back to the way they were, and being emotionally intelligent enables you to know how you are showing up as a leader, and the impact you have on others. This will allow you to create the kind of environment that brings out the best in your people.
As the great Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you’d like to know how to strengthen your leaders and managers’ emotional intelligence skills, don’t hesitate to contact Claire at Imagine Beyond for a discovery call. Or read our series on Entrepreneurial Leadership for more tips on how to adopt a more authentic leadership style.