Leading with Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence has a significant foothold in personal, professional, and organisational ways of thinking and working. Arguably it still attracts attention as a tool for recruitment and retention strategies and for progressive organisations to address issues around employee engagement and productivity.

Possibly, a key question remains even today, despite some 40 years of publications about the concept: “why is it important to be emotionally intelligent?”

Is technical competence enough? By that, I allude to sector-related effective decision-making, knowledge, skills, and experience relevant to the role.

Is that enough? Granted, that doesn’t matter how many ‘group hugs’ a leader may give his/her team if they can’t do their job. Yet, growing emotional intelligence research in the leadership field demonstrates that the effective awareness and management of emotions within the work setting by leaders (of their own and others’ emotions) enhances performance, productivity, employee engagement, and the financial scorecard.

Emotional Intelligence, since it was brought out of the cloistered halls of academic research by Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence” (1995), has been a concept linked to claims about leadership advantage and subsequent workplace effectiveness, decision-making and, ultimately, profitability.

If an organisation stands still, it is unlikely to grow. Change in any organisational setting tends to be synonymous with conflict. These episodes are inherently emotion-laden. Doubtless, some emotions will be experienced by some, if not all: excitement, enthusiasm, anxiety, and anger. Both sets will directly impact performance and output (whatever that means in your context).

Leaders who have EI awareness can, it would seem, improve the emotional climate of their organizations, and thus enhance job performance and productivity.

The ‘higher’ an individual’s level of emotional intelligence, the more enabled an individual is to adapt to change processes by being open to new ideas, learning, and levels of receptivity. Emotional intelligence is important in the levels of achievement by leaders, managers, and executives as it offers a basis for building positive relationships, trust, understanding and openness to adjustments.

When you consider that change and conflict are intimately associated with the day-to-day operational lifeworld of complex organisations – whichever sector – alongside a set of technical competencies, emotional intelligence is vital in ongoing organisational performance.

Emotional intelligence development is predicated on behavioural change and a longitudinal approach. Raising awareness is one thing (classroom), and embodying is another (coaching). Positive role models play an important part here.

Applying effective emotionally intelligent coaching programmes to individuals already within an organisation can be cost-effective and add value to the organisation.

Action/Thinking Points:
Activity 1:
Think of a good leader/manager/ co-worker you have encountered in your work context.

What words and/ or phrases capture what was good about them?

Activity 2:
Choose three feelings from the list below that you want to encourage in your team.
Absorbed, Capable, Challenged, Confident, Curious, Empowered, Encouraged, Energised, Engaged, Enthusiastic, Inspired, Interested, Intrigued, Motivated, Optimistic, Receptive, Resourceful, Safe, Stimulated, Understood, Valued.

What can you do this week to build space for a more emotionally intelligent way of working, relating, and leading?

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