Business Leaders – Is Your Emotional IQ up to the Task?

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One constant when you look at the characteristics of great leaders is a highly evolved emotional IQ. That shouldn’t come as any surprise when you consider that what they lead are teams of people! People that want to belong, seek fulfilment and a sense of importance just as you and I do!

The benefits of having a highly evolved emotional IQ warrant looking at. This BridgePoint Group explainer starts the conversation. So, what are we talking about when we say ‘emotional intelligence’ or ‘emotional IQ’?

The term Emotional Intelligence’ was first used by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer in their 1990 article of the same name. The term was popularised in the 1995 book (also called ‘Emotional Intelligence’) written by American psychologist Daniel Goleman

Salovey and Mayer described Emotional Intelligence as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”. 

Now, if you’re thinking that there is a fair amount of Dale Carnegie’s 1937 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People in that, we do too. (PS – that’s a book that definitely rewards re-reading, so pull it out and get stuck in). 

So, what did Goleman do that  turned the phrase mainstream? He detailed what he considered to be the key elements of emotional intelligence: –  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills

Where does that fit into today’s business world? Especially in the current climate of COVID-19 lockdowns? 

Business owners and leaders are having to deal with challenges that they have never dealt with before. History can hold some useful clues – if you find yourself dealing with an issue you haven’t seen before, it is nevertheless unlikely to be totally unprecedented. Be scholarly and do your research!

Driving your company’s success through these times is a stern test of your leadership. Like it or not, your people want to be led and they are looking at you to provide that leadership! And your ability to rise to that challenge will have a big influence on whether you survive or thrive! 

That’s where emotional IQ fits in.

Being vulnerable is a skill

Deep down, your team knows that you haven’t led through this type of a challenge before! So, pretending you know exactly what you are doing is to be disingenuous. And being disingenuous is the fast lane to losing trust. 

So, be vulnerable. Your team needs to know that you are on the same trajectory as them. They need to know what you are feeling as your leadership drives corporate culture. An example may be that you explain “Yes I am feeling uncertain, like all of us, on how we will cope with COVID-19. My instinct tells me to keep working together for our common goal, to grow the business, to keep our customers happy and to reward ourselves as goals are met. If we stick to the plan and remain agile enough to respond where changes are needed, we will come out in good shape”. 

Showing you are vulnerable but have a plan, is a key foundation stone to developing a cohesive corporate culture. Acting in a proactive manner, dispelling rumours and scuttlebutt, drives out uncertainty and puts the plan in play. Employees love to know that there is a plan in place and what that plan is. It gives them certainty and a purpose to work towards. Effective communication removes obstacles and provides a shared sense of purpose. 

Emotional IQ – it’s the little things

It is also the little things that matter. A daily morning greeting, a ‘thank you’, a ‘well done champ’ all contribute to the emotional relationships with employees. It also gives the person a boost and a sense of belonging and importance. (The boss always says hello to me!).

It is also a way to determine if there are any issues. You need to be cognitive of how each person responds. You should get a ‘feel’ from their response. If ‘Janet’ is always bright and smiley but one day not as effusive, then it might be worth a quiet word to make sure everything at work is ok. 

Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence improves employee engagement, motivation and performance levels. A leader with a high emotional IQ will become aware of any cultural frailties and act. It is what you walk past a leader that you accept. That acceptance therefore becomes a cultural norm. A crass joke, a slow response to a customer or product short cut – all contribute (negatively) to corporate culture. As a leader you have to rise to the challenge to maintain cultural norms. Or watch it spiral out of control. Your action must be immediate, not coloured by emotion and clearly explained. 

Empathy

Empathy is a highly tuned skill in the Emotional IQ playbook. Empathy’s considerations are around mental awareness, communication and observation. Picking up on behavioural nuances by observing is easy. As mentioned earlier it is common sense to ask someone if they are ok if their behaviour differs from their normal behaviour. Using your emotional IQ will allow you more effectively influence as a leader, increase your persuasion and connection with others.   

Difficult conversations will undoubtedly come up. They need to be assessed with empathy, considering the other person’s perspective, active listening and without judgement. 

Training your Emotional IQ as a step to becoming an exceptional leader

What if you need to develop your emotional IQ? As a leader you may need to train your emotional IQ. One practise is writing down your state of mind at the start of the day, repeating the exercise at the end of the day and reviewing it. This will start to condition your mind as to how you are feeling and how those emotions impacted on decisions and actions you made during the day. Exceptional leaders exhibit a high level of emotional self-awareness and self-control. It won’t take long until you are more mindful of your emotions. Which, like anything we practice, becomes 2nd nature, particularly in times of crisis or confrontation. It is in those times that your emotional IQ will shine, setting you down the path of becoming an exceptional leader. 

If you would like more information around Emotional IQ, or coaching to assist you in developing your emotional IQ, please reach out to BridgePoint Group on 1300 656 141 or email info@bridgepointgroup.com.au

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