When we think of our own skillsets, the harder skills tend to take the limelight – our technical capabilities, or our experience in a particular sector, or our ability to speak multiple languages – but organisations are switching on to the fact that softer skills, such as emotional intelligence (EQ), are critical qualities in a leader.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage your own feelings, as well as detect other people’s emotions and empathise with them – and it has a direct connection with successful leadership.
According to Talent Smart, 90% of high performers in the workplace possess a high EQ, while 80% of low performers have a low EQ.
Thankfully, just like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be honed – so, here are three practical tips that will boost your EQ:
Be aware of your own emotions.
As a leader, you’re probably accustomed to working in a high-pressure, deadline-driven environment, and you’re probably used to juggling multiple work streams to ensure everything gets done on time and with precision.
But you’re probably not accustomed to taking time out of your busy day to check in on yourself and your emotions. Probably because it sounds ridiculous!
But setting some time aside to measure how well you’re coping in a stressful situation is essential to your effectiveness as a leader.
Our feelings aren’t as undetectable as we’d like to think and, chances are, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, so are your employees. If you want to create a success-driven and goal-orientated work environment with a positive vibe, it’s vital that you check in with yourself throughout the day and make sure you’re not letting the stress get to you.
Learn to manage your emotions.
Being aware of your emotions is all well and good, but what happens when the stress of a situation becomes too much and finally catches up on you?
If you’re stressed, angry or upset, make an active decision to manage your emotions rather than doing something you’ll regret, like lashing out at co-workers.
For example, go for a walk, vent to a colleague, listen to music, or practice deep-breathing techniques - whatever works for you.
Listen to other people.
When you’re having a conversation with someone, have you ever found yourself hashing out a response in your head before the other person has finished speaking?
Of course you have - we all do it. But genuinely listening to what someone has to say is a skill of its own. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to hear what your employees have to say and empathise with them.
So, when you’re having a conversation with someone from your team, try your best to listen first and form conclusions second. This will not only help you make better responses and decisions, it will also build a better rapport with your team – as they know they’re being listened to and heard.
Having a high EQ is essential in today’s workplace – it has a direct impact on your ability to influence, engage and support your team – so, by applying these useful techniques to your day-to-day working life, you’ll be better equipped to manage yourself and your employees.