What’s all the fuss about emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence simply means being aware of and managing your own emotions. It also encompasses understanding the impact your emotions have on yourself and those around you. Emotional intelligence plays a big role in how you react both internally and externally to situations and affects how you handle interpersonal relationships.
Your level of emotional intelligence makes a big difference in your personal and professional success. The most successful leaders have high emotional intelligence, and companies should be doing everything they can to foster an environment where emotional intelligence is encouraged and developed.
Why does your workplace need emotional intelligence?
First, we’ll address the pressing question: does emotional intelligence really matter?
Research would support this question with a resounding, “YES!” Emotional intelligence improves:
- Performance (individual, team, and organizational)
- Your connection to others
And these are just a few examples. Decades of research point to emotional intelligence as a critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest. The following are a few findings from research showing the link between emotional intelligence and performance:
- People with a high EQ and an average IQ outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.
- Talent Smart tested 33 important workplace skills and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance.
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 states that:
- 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence. On the flip side, only 20% of low performers have high emotional intelligence.
- People with high degrees of emotional intelligence make more money — on average $29,000 more per year — than those with low emotional intelligence.
- The link between emotional intelligence and earnings was found to be direct. For every increase in emotional intelligence, pay increases by $1,300 annually (in all industries, at all levels, and in every region of the world).
Emotional intelligence impacts everything you say and do each day. While some people do have an innate ability in this area, never fear: the good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed.
But first, to increase your level of emotional intelligence, you must be willing to work on it, and this work isn’t always easy. However, employing strategies to increase your emotional intelligence allows your brain to grow new connections. These new pathways make it easier to kick your learned behaviors into action.
Below are four reasons you should care about emotional intelligence and how it affects your management style.
1. Emotional Intelligence Increases Self-Awareness
What is self-awareness?
“We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.” — Talmud
One of the best things you can do to live a happier, healthier, more productive life is to increase your self-awareness. Self-awareness is all about understanding the essence of what makes you tick. It’s about knowing yourself: understanding your fears, skills, capabilities, limitations, strengths, beliefs, and values.
How do you increase your self-awareness?
Create a habit of self-reflection. At the end of each day, spend 10 to 15 minutes of time reflecting on how the day went: what went well, what did not, the role you played, and what you want to do about it moving forward.
Why does it matter for managers?
Managers who can self-reflect at the end of each day are more open to feedback and ways to improve the workplace. A good manager should be aware that no workplace is perfect, and being open to honest feedback is a good step to ensuring your workforce is happy and has the tools they need to achieve.
2. Emotional Intelligence Improves Your Self-Regulation
What is self-regulation?
Self-regulation is the awareness of the internal emotional impact that a situation has on you. It enables you to be intentional about the choices you make when you respond to specific circumstances. If you have increased self-regulation, you can appropriately adjust your behavior, even in stressful situations. This also provides a deepened awareness of the impact you have on others and your ability to improve a situation. Controlling and adjusting your emotions in response to others is a hallmark behavior of self-regulation.
How do you increase self-regulation?
Be aware of how you are feeling. Pause and slow down before you respond. Use the STOPP technique:
- Slow down; do not act immediately.
- Take a deep breath.
- Observe what you are thinking now.
- Pull back. Zoom out. See the big picture.
- Practice skills and techniques that you determine are best for you.
Why does it matter for managers?
Your emotions and moods are contagious; they not only affect you, but they also affect those around you. As a manager, you are a role model for your team. Your behavior is an example of how others should also behave in the workplace. Regulating your emotions creates a psychologically safe culture where you can build trust. This culture enables employees to perform to their best ability and bring their “best brains” to work.
Self-regulation also has a ripple effect. What kind of culture are you trying to create? One that is fiery and unstable or one that is stable and constructive? In cultures where self-regulation is practiced, conflict tends to be low and productivity tends to be high. These environments also attract and retain top performers — a key competitive advantage for your organization.
3. Emotional Intelligence Grows Your Social Awareness
What is social awareness?
Social awareness is being “tuned in to others” and “tuned in to the situation.” It is about seeking to understand others and treating others with respect. With social awareness, you learn to observe others’ emotions and notice their reactions to you and a given situation.
How do you increase social awareness?
A critical factor to enable this is being in the present moment. Quiet your mind, and be attentive to others’ words and reactions. Remember: seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Why does it matter for managers?
Great managers are great listeners. Being tuned into others enables you to solve challenges more quickly, seamlessly address conflict, and create a more cohesive team. Entering spaces of conflict with an attitude of wanting to understand the other’s perspective and gain context will quickly mitigate tension and encourage a resolution, which is ultimately better for your business.
4. Emotional Intelligence Transforms Your Relationship Management
What is relationship management?
Relationship management is the ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions with others successfully. Improving this skill enables clear communication and effective conflict resolution. It helps you build stronger bonds with people over time and allows you to connect with others in ways that help them feel understood and supported. Remember: you contribute to half of any relationship (personal or business). This means you share half of the responsibility to strengthen and create meaningful, positive relationships.
How do you increase relationship management?
Be interested in others. Be curious. Pay attention when others are speaking. Put your phone away. Treat others how they want to be treated. Take feedback from others well. Do not avoid a situation where conflict might arise. It’s always better to deal with a conflict sooner than letting it fester.
Does emotional intelligence impact the employee experience of your organization? Absolutely. When leaders and co-workers are more emotionally available, they are more able to recognize and act quicker on employee challenges, improving retention.
Why does it matter for managers?
As a leader, being emotionally connected and aware will help you understand what truly motivates your team. Knowing this can help you increase employee morale and boost employee performance. Strong emotional intelligence is a foundational skill present in cultures where employees feel appreciated not only for what they do, but also for who they are.
In these cultures, employees feel seen, valued, and heard. Emotional intelligence improves organizational performance. Studies find that organizations with high EQ managers have 34% higher profit growth when compared to organizations with lower EQ managers.
Shift Your Employee Recognition Mindset
What, if anything, does emotional intelligence have to do with employee recognition?
Emotional intelligence was ranked as the sixth most important skill employees need to thrive during what is now called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to the World Economic Forum. Today’s employees in the midst of this new industrial revolution expect more connectivity, and rewards and recognition is one way to deepen your connection with them. A key component of the rewards and recognition process is a leader’s ability to understand when and how to recognize someone else, which requires emotional intelligence.
Praise is one of the deepest principles of human nature. For humans in general, (and employees specifically) the need for recognition is real. As American psychologist and philosopher William James stated,“The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.”
When you know that someone has recognized and valued your efforts, any work you undertake feels more worthwhile. Salaries and pensions may not be the end-all for everyone. In fact, a simple “thank you” may be deemed enough to meet the needs of some employees, and for others, a reward for a job well done would go a long way, too.
All employees are different. It is important to take the time to understand your employees, their likes and dislikes, and what they personally find valuable. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for recognition. Understanding that your employees are unique is a key driver to successfully motivate and recognize your staff. Recognition needs to be authentic, regular, and a part of your company’s culture. It is not enough to hand out gifts; meaningful connections, words of affirmation, and celebration for specific achievements are all key components for successful recognition. All of these elements are founded in emotional intelligence, and to keep your workforce engaged, you must be invested in growing these skills.
Expectations Are Changing
Employees expect to be treated as individuals, and rewards and recognition for employees should be unique as well. Remember: different things motivate different people.
Employees need empathy and emotional intelligence present in their leaders, co-workers, cultures. Happier employees are more motivated and engaged, have stronger performance, and stay with their companies longer. Be aware of your culture and the employee experience. Know that when emotional intelligence is a key skill that should be represented in your organization. With emotional intelligence, your business, and your people will thrive.
Dr. Julie Schissel Loosbrock, CEO of Corporate Soul Infusion, has over 30 years of experience transforming organizational cultures of all sizes by coaching leaders to lead with their head and heart. Julie has a passion for engaging leaders and employees so that an organization and its people thrive as they collaborate for success. Connect with her on LinkedIn; visit her website or schedule your free consult today.