Emotional Intelligence – A Critical Component of Effective Leadership

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Any leader lacking in emotional intelligence is not able to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead. A Leader who reacts from emotions without filtering them is bound to create mistrust amongst subordinates and which could seriously jeopardize their working relationships. Reacting with emotions can be detrimental to the culture, attitudes and positive feelings toward the organisation and its mission. It then follows that as a leader you must be self-aware and understand how your verbal and non-verbal communication affects your team.

In order to understand the emotional intelligence competencies required for effective leadership, it is critical to determine where as a leader you stand on the elements that make up emotional intelligence.

Self-Assessment: This can be defined as having the ability to recognize one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and drivers and understanding their impact on others.

Without reflection it becomes very difficult to understand who we are, why we make certain decisions, what we are good at, and where we fall short. It then follows that in order to reach maximum potential, one must be confident in who they, understand the good with the bad. Those that have a strong understanding of who they are and what they want to work on, can improve themselves on a regular basis.

Self-regulation: This is also known as discipline. It involves controlling or redirecting our disruptive emotions and adapting to changing circumstances in order to keep the team moving in a positive direction. As leaders you can’t afford to lose your cool. Being calm is just as contagious, as is panic. So it is of paramount importance that when you take on a leadership role you can no longer afford to panic when things get stressful.

Empathy and Compassion: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. When one has empathy, the capacity to feel compassion is open. The emotion that we feel in response to suffering that motivates a desire to help. So the more are able to relate to others, the better we will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them.

Relationship Management: It is difficult to make deep connections with others if one is distracted. A leader must have the ability to communicate effectively and properly manage relationships in order to move a team in a desired direction.

Effective Communication: Communication is of utmost importance as studies have shown that effective communication is 7% the words we say and 93% tone and body language. Misunderstandings and lack of communication are usually the basis of problems between most people. Failing to communicate effectively in teams leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion among team members. Effective communication can eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger team relationships. When team members are clear about their role within the organisation and understand how they benefit the overall direction and vision, there is a sense of value and accomplishment. Thus good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose.

There is no doubt then that emotional intelligence is a powerful tool critical for exceeding goals, improving critical work relationships, and creating a healthy, productive workplace and organizational culture. So as a leader where do stand? Surely, emotionally intelligent leaders are the most successful as there are able to relate with their teams and inspire them to the successful attainment of organisational goals.

I’m a human resources practitioner. I look forward to reading and responding to your thoughts in the comments section below.

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