Being an effective leader takes hard work and skill.
This new guide will show you everything you need to boost your leadership performance with Emotional Intelligence.
You will pick up valuable information and practical tips about managing your own emotions and those around you, which can boost your career, results and even happiness!
So if you’re looking to take your leadership to a higher level, you’ll love this guide.
Let’s blast off.
How to lead with EQ
Emotional Intelligence: A Dead Simple Explanation
Emotional Intelligence (some people also refer to EQ or EI) is a term that was created by two researchers – Peter Salavoy and John Mayer.
It really became popular when author Daniel Goleman published his book Emotional Intelligence in 1996.
In my coaching and training courses, the definition of EQ that I use is:
The ability to:
Recognise, understand and manage one's own emotions
Recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others
So, you can see it has two aspects, understanding and managing your own emotions and those of others.
I told you it was a simple concept!
Core Components of EQ
Psychologist Daniel Goleman says EQ has five Core Components, which cover all bases I think.
Just being aware of them will make you a better leader, here are the five. . .
The ability to recognise and understand your moods and emotions, and how they affect others
The ability to control impulses and moods, and to think before acting
3. INTERNAL MOTIVATION
Being driven to pursue goals for personal (intrinsic) reasons, rather than for some kind of external (extrinsic) reward
The ability to recognise and understand others’ feelings, thoughts and motivations, which is so important to building and leading teams successfully
5. SOCIAL SKILLS
The ability to establish, manage and expand relationships and organisational networks
Why EQ is important to leaders
Well, when you think about it, emotions have a big impact on how we feel at work, but also how we think and behave at work.
You may be interested to know that one study estimated that 58% of performance is related to Emotional Intelligence, that is a significant amount!
By the way, this does not mean that traditional INTELLIGENCE, PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITY is not important, because it also is a key element to performance.
So it really is a case of EQ plus IQ.
The pay-off in looking at EQ is that there is hope of improvement.
Just like any skill, the more you work (properly) on improving your Emotional Intelligence, the better your EQ will be.
In fact, one study showed that 90% of HIGH PERFORMERS had HIGH EQ.
You can really appreciate why EQ is important to leadership.
It follows . . . boost your EQ and you will boost your leadership and the performance of your team.
. . . and apart from performance, there is another more personal reason why a lot of leaders and aspiring leaders should be interested in Emotional Intelligence.
Career Success and EQ
Several studies have shown that having Emotional Intelligence is a key factor in who organisations hire, especially in the leadership ranks.
Once upon a time it was just about skills and smarts, these days . . .and the trend will continue, it really has a lot to do with PEOPLE SMARTS (EQ).
I see this in many, many sectors, including Logistics, Engineering, Science and even with sporting organisations, such as the AFL FOOTBALL CLUBS clubs I have consulted with.
On the flip side, the hard, cold reality is that organisations choosenot to retainExecutives with LOW EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.
Such people are clearly seen as a liability, with limited futures.
As Jack Welch says . . .
“A leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component.
He/she has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control.
He/she must be able to withstand the heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal part of joy and humility.
No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader.
You just can’t ignore it.”
- JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF GENERAL ELECTRIC
Emotional Intelligence: How much do you have ?
OK so we have established that Emotional Intelligence is important to leadership success,
so . . . how do you know if have EQ ?
As I say (a lot) to my leadership clients, you can't manage what you can't measure.
This is why proper, objective, valid assessment of Emotional Intelligence is a key step to a person's understanding and improvement of their own EQ.
For this guide, here are some questions you can ask yourself to start understanding the level of EQ you may currently have.
Are you easily upset?
People with EQ are fairly thick-skinned and can take a joke and even laugh at themselves.
That doesn’t mean that they don't have feelings or emotions, because they do . . . they are human, after all.
The point is - they are just not offended easily or over-sensitive to criticism and can control their emotions.
They have the ability to not get ruffled.
Do you have the ability to (really) listen to others ?
Moving, blindly forward with your own plan with no regard for others is not a good sign of much EQ!
Instead, emotionally intelligent leaders are able to listen and take in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others.
They actively seek these out and are able to process them without judgement.
How self-aware are you?
People with EQ have a reasonable understanding of themselves. They don't have massive blind-spots.
They know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at.
They certainly don’t think or act like they are the best at everything - not helpful at all.
They are also better able to handle situations when their weaknesses may be exposed – because they are prepared for them and honest enough to acknowledge these weaknesses.
Or, as I like to say, in my coaching and training . . . "areas for improvement"
Can you identify and express emotions?
Part of being human, is that we all experience a range of emotions – but people with good levels of EQ recognise what these emotions are and are able to define them and explain (to themselves and others) what they are.
The reward for defining emotions is that we enjoy greater clarity and understanding of our emotions, which leads to a greater ability to control and manage our emotions.
Did you know . . . most managers are not really good at labelling their emotions, but with some coaching and practice, they get much better.
Take the EQ Quiz
As a bit of a guide to your possible Emotional Intelligence, you are invited to the take the EQ Quiz.
You may be surprised by the score you get.
Go on, it will only take a minute, let me know if you agree with the results.
Why Self-Awareness is your EQ best friend
In the best-selling book on Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman says that Self-Awareness is the keystone of Emotional Intelligence.
Put simply, Self-Awareness is about having clarity about your feelings and thoughts.
The payoff for leaders like you . . .
With self-awareness comes the ability to make better choices as a leader.
There are three elements of Self-Awareness:
1. EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS:
recognising your emotions and the impact they have on your life.
2. ACCURATE SELF-ASSESSMENT: identifying your strengths and limitations.
knowing your self worth and capabilities.
So let me share with you some, actually 8, practical ways to increase Self-Awareness, everything from self-talk, saying no to temptation, playing Devil's Advocate to even, possibly, a bit of meditation !
You will no doubt find some useful strategies, in the options presented below.
8 Ways To Increase Your Self-Awareness
1. Break Primal Reactions
A person without self-awareness runs on auto-pilot, and responds with knee-jerk reactions, often based primal aspects of our brain, the Amygdala to be exact.
Self-awareness allows you to assess situations objectively and rationally, without acting on instinct and fear.
So the tip is . . .
Take a deep breath before you act, especially when a situation triggers anger or frustration.
This gives you time to re-assess whether your response will be the best, most emotionally intelligent one.
2. Expand Your Emotional Vocabulary
Emotions create powerful physiological and behavioural responses in us that are more complex than "good", "bad", “happy” or “sad.”
In my training and coaching, I help leaders discover the huge amount of feeling words that they can use to describe more precisly what they are feeling.
The surprising benefit of this action is that
putting your feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on your brain; conversely, if you’re unable to articulate how you feel, it is really frustrating and can create stress.
By increasing your emotional vocabulary, with one new word each day, you will be more exactly aware of what you are feeling.
From expanding your EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY you will feel gratified, ecstatic, contented, upbeat and panglossian ! ! !
3. Ask the 3 WHY'S
Imagine you are just about to take action on a decision you have made
OK now stop for just a moment and ask yourself
2. Follow up your response with another “Why?”
3. And then a third Why?
So if you can find three good reasons to take action on something, you’ll have more clarity and be more confident in your actions.
Being self-aware, especially as an effective leader, means knowing your motives and determining whether they are reasonable and (emotionally) intelligent.
4. Monitor Your Self-Talk
There is non-stop commentary in our heads, sometimes, even most times, the self-talk is not always helpful.
In fact, be aware that negative self-talk can really have an adverse impact on how we feel.
Pay attention to the way you respond to your successes and failures — do you pass off your achievements as luck?
Worst of all, do you beat yourself up after failures?
Positive and negative feedback-loops will form in your mind based off how you respond to successes and failures.
Being tough on yourself needs to be balanced with self-compassion.
The key here is to celebrate your wins, forgive your losses.
5. Practice Saying "NO" To Yourself
The ability to say “no” to yourself, to put off short-term gratification for the long-term gain is an important life-skill.
The good news is that the more you practice saying “no” to small daily challenges, the better you can withstand major temptations.
There are plenty of daily temptations -- social media, junk food, Social media.
Being aware of the choices you consciously make, helps raise your overall Self-Awareness.
Make a goal of saying “no” to at least one temptation a day and you will be amazed at how good you get in being able to say "No".
And, you know, it doesn't hurt your Self-Awareness either ! !
5. Know Your-Self, Know Your Personality Type
Knowing your personality type allows you to maximise your strengths and manage your weaknesses.
In my coaching with leaders, I often get to complete a personality assessment like the MBTI or DISC. The personality report is almost like your own SWOT analysis, very useful.
Understanding your “strengths” and also your not so strong points "weaknesses".
I still remember the day I first read a proper personality profile about me, it was a revelation and truly career-changing for me.
6. Ask for (Regular) Constructive Feedback
We all have blind spots in our thinking patterns and behaviours.
Asking for regular constructive feedback cuts through any blind-spots or one-dimensional views you might hold.
But take care . . .
only ask people you’d consider as trusted mentors — those who understand you; whom you respect; and will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
This is why, having independent Leadership Coaches works well to provide constructive, valuable feedback.
And you know . . .
good feedback, on a regular basis, leads to good levels of Self-Awareness, no doubt !
7. Play "Devil's Advocate"
Taking an opposing view forces you to question your assumptions.
Your "default" beliefs and worldview are not always reasonable and the right way forward; it’s healthy to “argue against yourself” and see how your views stack up.
Along with getting a great brain workout, it forces to really think and reflect on your views and thought processes and contemplates other, even opposite views.
8. Meditation - Possibly For You
Okay let me be perfectly honest and declare that I don't do a lot of meditation, but please don't hold that against it.
Some people love meditation and importantly for many it has really really helped boost their self-awareness.
For example the process of focusing solely on your breathing is to focus on a key internal process.
You’ll become self-aware of how your mind may wanders, and get better at snapping out of distractions.
The key is to try the self-awareness strategies that work best for you.
Social skills are an important set of skills in any setting, including work.
In emotional intelligence the term 'social skills' refers to the skills needed to handle and influence other people’s emotions effectively.
Social Skills : Communication
Communication skills are vital to good EQ.
You need to be able to listen to others, and also convey your own thoughts and, perhaps more importantly, feelings.
So how can leaders become better at communication.
Surprisingly, it isn't that difficult, here are a few tips:
Listen well to those around them, making sure that they understand what is said, and seek full and open sharing of information.
Are prepared to hear about problems, and don’t just want to be told about good news.
Deal with difficult issues straight away, and don’t allow problems to fester.
Register and act upon emotional cues in communicating, making sure that their message is appropriate.
Social Skills : Empathy
Empathy can simply be explained as the ability to (really) put yourself in someone else's shoes.
For all leaders, this is a life-long skill to develop and maintain effective relationships with people.
Get this - research shows that the better performing leaders have higher scores on EMPATHY, than lower performing leaders.
Strategies To Being An Empathy Expert
1. Shut up and listen:
I'm sorry for being so blunt about it, but it is true, the need to shut up.
Listening involves letting someone else talk and then not countering what they say. It means putting aside your preconceptions or scepticism for a bit and allowing the person you're talking to a chance to explain how they feel.
Empathy is hard, but virtually every relationship you have can be improved at by waiting a few seconds before you respond. Try it, you will be surprised by the results.
2. Don't just know, try to understand:
Understanding is another key to having empathy.
Understanding is the difference between knowing something and truly empathising with it.
f you catch yourself saying, "I know, but..." a lot, take that as an indicator that you should pause a bit more.
When someone tells you about an experience that's not your own, take some time to mull over how your work and life might be different if you experienced that on a daily basis.
Empathy really takes effort and it means getting in the emotional dirt with someone else.
Allowing their experiences to resonate with your own and responding appropriately.
Social Skills : Rapport
It is vital to be able to build and maintain connection with other people.
And, when you boil it down, building rapport is really about build connections with other people.
Developing this skill will lead to better relationships, and a much better ability to work and get on in life.
Leaders who are good at this are great at building and maintaining a strong network of contacts and connections.
In the next section we look at OPTIMISM, including some tips and chance for you to take a quiz to discover How Optimistic You Are !
Keep reading to discover some positive gems.
wonder if your experience is similar to mine . . .
Quite a few managers that I come across are quite PESSIMISTIC, always worrying about what might go wrong, rather than focusing on what is going right.
Being Optimistic is associated with having good levels of Emotional Intelligence and as the results show below, Effective Leaders have higher levels of Optimism.
If you think about it . . . EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP and OPTIMISM should go together, hand-in-hand.
They are able to paint an optimistic and attainable view of the future for their followers: They move others from being stuck with “how things are done around here” and help them see “how things could be done better”.
So you may be wondering, can I become more OPTIMISTIC, the answer is YES ! !
Optimism is an attitude that can be learned and practised.
Here are some strategies you can try in your pursuit of becoming more optimistic.
1. Recognise and celebrate your strengths
The key to high achievement and happiness is to play out your strengths, not correct your weaknesses.
Focus on what you do well.
2. Avoid negative people and environments
If this is not possible, make every effort to seek the company of positive individuals in your organisation.
Sometimes this may mean mixing with peers in other departments - that's fine!
Stay away from the professional complainer - they will drag you down.
3. Reframe your thinking
Years ago I did a course in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
One of the most useful things I learnt from the program was REFRAMING. In regard to being more Optimistic, it means changing the way you view and explain events from pessimistic (this is horrible) to more optimistic (it’s not as bad as I thought – I can handle it).
It’s not about being a Pollyanna – rather it involves deliberately shifting perspective and looking for the hidden positive in a negative situation.
It really does work and something I coach people on - try it, you will be amazed at the difference it can make. Enjoy !
4. Ignore what you cannot change
When faced with setbacks, identify what you can change and proactively try to find ways to do something about it.
I know you have probably heard this advice (many times) – it bears repeating.
Be inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s words: “While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”
QUIZ: Discover how optimistic you really are ?
Great Leaders have Emotional Control . . do you ?
Emotional control is a skill that all leaders need to have to be successful in managing their staff.
Employees often look to leaders for examples of how to behave, especially during times of turmoil and change.
So it follows . . . leaders need to be prepared to present a calm, rational front.
When leaders are highly controlled in expressing emotions, they are seen as more likeable, ethical, and emotionally intelligent.
As you can see from graph below . . . having control is a characteristic of better performing leaders.
To be in control of one’s emotions means maintaining personal composure during times of stress, when things are uncertain, or when faced with conflict or disagreement.
Please don't make the mistake . . . of thinking this means all emotions.
It really is about consciously choosing which emotions are appropriate in any given situation, and avoiding expressing extreme or negative emotions during times of pressure.
Emotional control is important during times of organisational change or when dealing with difficult employee situations.
Emotional regulation is also good for your own mental health and well-being.
Some people have a natural ability to control their emotions, for others it takes some work.
As I have personally found and leaders who I have coached, this ability can be trained, developed, and improved over time. Yeah !
Assess your ability to control YOUR emotions:
In assessing your ability to control your emotions, ask yourself the following questions:
Have I considered how my response will influence my staff ?
Does showing emotion in this situation help me obtain my objectives ?
Do I think about what I say or how I behave before responding to a situation ?
What strategies can I use to regulate my emotions?
4 Ways To Improve Your Skills in Emotional Control
1. Understand the value of emotions
Controlling or managing emotions is not the same thing as suppressing them.
Leaders should know that emotions can play an important role in the organisation.
They can be used to frame new events or situations in a positive way. For example, leaders can express confidence in an individual by showing positive affect toward them.
Research shows that leaders who heavily suppress their emotions are less satisfied in their work and more likely to want to leave their organisation.
It can also be unsettling for staff, a bit like working with a ticking time-bomb. No good ! !
However, in times of stress or pressure, the emotions a leader is likely to exhibit are less than positive, and might include things like anxiety, irritation, frustration, or anger.
This is where leaders need to be really careful.
Would you agree ?
2. Be prepared for highly charged events
Take a moment to prepare for situations or people that you know may be volatile and emotionally hot.
The simple act of taking a big breath, being mindful and careful can really help navigate the situation and your emotions towards a positive place.
3. Watch your expressions
Expressing high levels of worry, stress or doubt during times of organisational change can cause alarm in employees.
Expressing anger during conflict resolution reduces the likelihood that two fighting parties will listen.
A leader who consistently “cracks” under pressure makes the environment uncomfortable and unproductive for all employees.
Before expressing a negative emotion, try to think what message this will send to employees, and whether this will result in positive, productive outcomes. It won't !
4. Take extra care with sensitive situations
Take a few deep breaths.
Remember what you want to accomplish or get out of the situation, and go into the situation prepared for the possibility of stress or conflict.
Leaders who embrace this uncertainty are often better prepared to deal with things as they come.
A leader may be less likely to respond automatically with anger or frustration when they have prepared themselves for the possibility of conflict.
Hey guess what . . . this really shows your Emotional Intelligence capability.
5. Be strategic, think impact
Please consider . . . a short negative outburst by a leader can have a lasting impact on employees.
While expressing negative emotions may provide a temporary feeling of relief, employees look to their leader for guidance during times of change and any information from the leader, including their behaviour, can be used to make assumptions about their own future.
In addition, as I often bang on about, leaders are a very important element in shaping the culture of the organisation.
A leader who vents their anger or frustration will create an environment of stress, where individuals are afraid to bring up their ideas for fear of reproach, or where employees treat each other with little patience and respect.
This is a sign of a poor organisational culture.
Consider yourself a role model.
Understand that your behaviours, as a leader, in addition to your words, carry much weight to employees.
Flexibility and EQ
Flexibility is the ability to adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behaviour to changing situations and conditions.
This component of emotional intelligence applies to your overall ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable, and dynamic circumstances.
Flexible people are agile, synergistic and capable of reacting to change, without rigidity.
What is really notable, as shown by the graph below, Flexibility is another element of Emotional Intelligence that higher performing leaders have to a greater extend than leaders that perform to a lower level.
5 Ways To Be More Flexible
1. Have a Plan B . . . and C . . . and D . . .
As you might imagine, organisations need to change plans, processes and people all the time.
Whatever issue arises, a flexible leader won’t be fazed. Rather, this type of manager will more than reach for Plan B and keep on moving forward with their team.
Plan B might need to be changed, so we keep moving forward with Plan C.
This is the reality of life and work, the emotionally intelligent leader will pull out the new plan, roll their sleeves up and proceed forward.
2. Keep it real - tuna in !
Sometimes, leaders get so caught up in an idealised view of their organisation in the future that they forget to live authentically “in the now” and pay the appropriate level of attention to the present.
By tuning in to the current situation, the current staff and current needs, leaders increase their capacity to be responsive and adaptable to the minute, hour and day.
Nothing fishy about that ! ! !
3. Don't get hooked in the crisis trap
Especially when a crisis is happening, people have the tendency to make snapper judgements in order to respond to the issue as quickly as possible, but flexible leaders avoid this trap.
Effective, flexible leaders understand that there are many solutions to any given situation and they take the time to gather information before choosing their best option.
At the same time, however, the best leaders also recognise that while rushing to take action may be harmful to a company, so too just treading water, is not helpful.
Striking a balance is critical.
4. Paint beyond numbers
Leaders are often reluctant to change their positions on issues for fear of being labelled indecisive, but if additional information comes to light or there’s another key development of some kind, they reserve the right to reassess the situation and restate the way they view things, based on the circumstances in front of them.
Often, they’ll end up more respected if they adapt their approaches rather than stubbornly adhering to the stance they took when they were looking at an incomplete picture.
Flexible leaders know when to colour within the lines and when to splash paint all over the canvas.
The key point to note . . . really effective, flexible leaders are comfortable with both approaches.
Now, it's your turn
So these were some ideas about how leaders can improve their EQ.
Now I want to turn it over to you: Which of the strategies or ideas from today’s guide are you going to implement first?
Are you going to be more Flexible, Aware of your own emotions or perhaps more Optimistic ?
Is Emotional Intelligence going to be a focus for you this year ?
Perhaps you don't think it is that important.
Please let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now. Thanks Gerard.