How to be an emotionally intelligent leader 

Businesses need to stay agile, connected and in tune with the world around them in order to stay relevant and respond quickly to change. But just as importantly as being focussed on the outside world – is the need for leadership to be connected and in tune with the people working for the business. 

The main thing that separates connected, in tune and agile leaders from the rest, is emotional intelligence. Just like in any relationship, the more emotionally intelligent people are when it comes to communicating and understanding one another, the better the relationship will be. The good news is, if you are lacking in emotional intelligence as a leader, you can do certain things to help refine your capabilities; and increase the engagement, happiness, motivation and sense of connection your team feels. 

Leaders who are not emotionally intelligent can be poor decision-makers. Decisions can be made based on their own emotions, without regard for others or for the wellbeing of staff. Their decisions tend to be tone-deaf and can seemingly be indifferent to the feelings, ideas and opinions of staff. 

Here are some ways to brush up on your emotional intelligence and create a happier, healthier workplace. 

  1. Develop your self-awareness 
    Having an understanding about your own character and behaviour tendencies is a great foundation to evolving yourself and being open to improving the way you deal with people. How do you react when someone in your team lets you down, when they don’t do things to the standard you want or on time for example? Are you quick to anger? Does your team walk on eggshells around you? Do you praise your team and acknowledge their progress and successes? Nothing can be more demoralising than a leader that presents others work as their own and balms in the glory. If you find you have done this, make an effort to change and ensure that people feel recognised and appreciated by you and others in the business. 

    A great way to initiate some self-awareness is to ask your team for honest feedback about your management style and what areas you could improve. It might come back that you could be more open to their ideas and suggestions and ways of doing things, it could be that you tend to micro-manage when they feel completely capable. 

    Asking for feedback to grow yourself as a leader takes some courage; you may need to be willing to eat a bit of humble pie to take the feedback onboard and then make some changes or implement some processes to show your willingness to be accountable and change. 
  2. Improve your empathy 
    When it comes to being emotionally intelligent, good communication is vital. And being in tune with how others are feeling is key. It might be as simple as carving out time in your diary to have a decent one on one with your team members, to give the opportunity to see how they are feeling, how they can be supported better. 
  3. Improve your Listening skills 
    Part of improving your empathy is working on your listening skills. 

    We spend up to 80% percent of our waking hours in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend roughly 45% listening. But how much listening are we actually doing?

    If you are on a path to improve yourself, you need to strive to be an ‘active listener’. Active listening is all about truly connecting with the person or people you are listening to, with the aim of comprehending and understanding things on a deeper level. It requires you to listen with an open heart and see things from others’ perspectives. 

    When communicating with others, to give yourself the best chance of listening with empathy, here are some things you can do to stay focussed; 

    Remove any biases you may have about the person you are talking to. Biases tend to get in the way of our listening as we are looking to taint what they are saying with our own beliefs about the person. 
  4. Remove distractions
    In such an available world, sometimes it’s a good idea to remove distractions to truly listen. Leave the office and go to a cafe, turn off your phone, turn off your notifications and do what you need to do to stay focussed on what the person has to say without other distractions ‘popping’ up’. Likewise, give yourself the time and space without thinking about other deadlines; before you meet give yourself a minute to clear your mind, remove your worries about other things and tune in to be present. 
  5. Ask questions
    Nothing shows you are listening and reinforcing what is being said to you than asking questions. This is the case for communications outside of meetings too, if someone in your team is communicating with you, ask questions to make sure you fully understand the situation before jumping in with advice. 

The path to developing and fine tuning your emotional intelligence as a leader is a commitment to self-reflection, asking for feedback, learning from mistakes, developing self-awareness and listening better. Emotionally intelligent leaders have more engagement staff who feel connected and supported  and psychologically safe in their jobs. 

How are you tracking on the scale of emotional intelligence in the workplace? I’d love to hear from you. If your leadership team could do with my help get in touch today, I’d love to hear from you.

Share News