Your Guide to Emotional Intelligence for Managers

You’re a well-liked manager of a small team. You’re kind, respectful, and sensitive to the needs of your teammates. You see setbacks as opportunities, and you act as a source of calm for your colleagues.

Overall, you applaud yourself on your high emotional intelligence—or high EQ, as it’s often referred to—and count it as one of your strengths, the one thing you don’t have to work on.

But recently, you’ve been feeling stuck in your career. It feels as if you haven’t demonstrated the kind of performance your company is looking for. So much for emotional intelligence, you think to yourself.

The trap that you’ve fallen into is a common one. It turns out you’re defining emotional intelligence much too narrowly. You are focusing on sociability, sensitivity, and likability. You’re missing critical elements of emotional intelligence that could make you an even more effective leader and help you grow your career.

In this article, you will gain a full understanding of emotional intelligence and how you can leverage yourself as a manager. Some of the objectives you can focus on include:

  • The meaning of emotional intelligence and why it’s important to you as a manager
  • Strategies and core competencies you can use to improve your emotional intelligence
  • How to lead with emotional intelligence
  • Steps to coaching your employees on emotional intelligence
  • Methods you can use to test your emotional intelligence and that of your teammates and coworkers, including a downloadable resource

What Emotional Intelligence Is for Managers and Why It’s Important

Person using a pen to write about emotional intelligence for managers

Emotional intelligence is defined as your ability to identify and manage your own emotions along with the feelings of others around you. When you have a firm handle on emotional intelligence, you’re able to understand other people’s reactions.

Understanding other people’s emotional states and reactions means you can identify the emotions they’re feeling and why they’re feeling them as well. It also dives into how you can negotiate a situation given the involved emotional responses.

According to researcher Daniel Goleman, there are five characteristics of emotional intelligence for managers:

1. Internal Motivation

Internal motivation is the drive to achieve goals for personal reasons rather than for rewards and recognition. In this regard, motivation is the same thing that drives employees to excel. However, it’s not easily definable because every person is different.

For example, taking care of your mental health is a solid tenet of internal motivation. You don’t work on your psychological well-being primarily because of rewards and recognition. You do it for personal reasons and to help yourself because it helps you feel good.

Nevertheless, internal motivation is a critical factor in emotional intelligence for managers because it fuels curiosity and self-improvement—two of the major facets of success in a work environment and job satisfaction.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to identify with the emotions of others while also relating with them and understanding their position. It’s an important idea for both first-time managers and seasoned managers because it gives you the ability to see things from a different perspective.

Empathy is essential for leadership roles because it’s a necessary component of providing quality feedback. Simply put, it allows you to connect with and support others. Additionally, empathy also helps you to understand the challenges and motivations your employees face.

3. Self-Awareness

This is your understanding of yourself. It’s the comprehension of your perspectives, mindsets, experiences, and preferences.

Self-awareness is achieved through a deep understanding of your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.‍ Building upon this idea, self-awareness is crucial to emotionally-intelligent leadership because it enables you to understand others’ emotions.

However, you must first understand your own. And that’s the trickiest part. It takes reflection, admission of weakness

4. Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is your ability to manage your emotions and impulses. In other words, it’s the idea of thinking before you act. At its base level, allows you to separate yourself from your emotions.

The possession of self-regulation is an essential complement to emotional intelligence for managers because it allows you to analyze scenarios calmly and objectively rather than allowing irrational emotions to lead.

5. Sociability

This refers to your social skills and your ability to manage relationships effectively. Your social skills allow you to interact effectively with groups, bring people together with a positive outlook, and create a sense of belonging among team members.

Sociability is a necessity in emotional intelligence for managers because it is the most vital part of leading. If you can’t bring people together and foster passion in those around you, the force driving your business can stagnate.

Why Is Emotional intelligence for Managers Important?

Emotional intelligence is essential in business because enables leaders to better understand and motivate people who follow them.

Emotional intelligence can do wonders for the productivity, performance, management of team members, and profitability of the business. Moreover, in his determination to answer the question, what makes a great leader? Daniel Goleman found that out of three abilities, technical, cognitive, and emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence proved to be two times more important than any other skill.

As it turns out, emotional intelligence is the most important leadership skill, hands-down.

Best Practices for Improving Emotional Intelligence

Workers sitting aroud a table chatting

Now that you understand the importance of emotional intelligence and its importance thereof, you need a game plan to put it into play. Manager training will always help, regardless of whether you're new to management or a seasoned veteran. But with the three facets listed below, you can use emotional intelligence to your advantage and create a supportive work environment.

‍Recognize Your Emotions

A key component of emotional intelligence is understanding emotions. Building upon that, the best place to understand others’ emotions is to understand your own.

T‍o start, take time for self-reflection and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What emotions are you feeling?
  • Under what circumstances do these emotions arise?
  • Can you control this type of emotional response?

Asking yourself these types of questions will help you gain a better grasp of your emotions and how you can regulate them. Furthermore, being able to identify your feelings and temper your reactions accordingly is a crucial step towards improved emotional intelligence.

Ask for Feedback

Another essential component of high emotional intelligence is the alignment of your self-perception and others’ perceptions of you. It’s a part of self-management in its own right. Facing the perception of others helps you learn about your weaknesses and strengths, how to improve upon them, and how doing so can transform you from manager to leader.

You can audit your self-perception by asking those around you (i.e. colleagues, family, friends, your teammates) how they would rate your emotional intelligence and other ideas tied to it, such as relationship management, decision-making, and communication skills.

For example, ask them how you respond to challenging situations, how empathetic you are, or how you handle difficult situations. Then, see how this aligns with your view of these answers.

If your self-perception is equal to how others perceive you, you’re well on your way to high emotional intelligence. If not, then you know where you need to improve—which is half the battle of achieving a high EQ.

Read the Right Books  

According to Harvard Professional Development, numerous studies have shown that reading literature with complex characters helps improve your empathy—a core aspect of emotional intelligence for managers.

When you read stories from a third-party perspective, it helps you gain insight into others’ thoughts, motivations, and actions, which improves your overall social awareness.

If you’re wondering where to start, here are some books to put on your must-read list:

  1. “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela
  2. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama
  3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  4. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

If you want to learn even more tips and tricks to help you improve your emotional intelligence, do some further reading: Exceptional Leaders Have This Critical Skill, Do You?

How Emotional Intelligence for Managers Can Improve Your Skills and Instincts

Two women working in the office

Once you have a firm understanding of what emotional intelligence is and how to improve it yourself, learning how to lead with it becomes tantamount to success. Through the ideas and initiatives listed below, you can take the theoretical side of emotional intelligence and apply it to your everyday routine.

Be Mindful of Your Team’s Needs

As a team leader, it’s your job to ensure your teammates have the opportunity to work to the best of their abilities.

Your sensitivity radar must always be switched on. You must garner awareness of each of your teammates' full potential and what you can do to help them reach it.

Everyone can improve their performance and productivity, but teammates need continued feedback, recommendations, and suggestions to do it. That’s where emotional intelligence for managers comes into play.

Embrace Differences

We’re all unique individuals, which means we all see things differently and need various methods to help us reach our full potential. As a manager, it’s your job to accommodate the different needs of your team.

The key to being a great team leader is understanding how to leverage differences in your teammates by assigning them tasks unique to their talents and abilities.

Differences fuel unique perspectives and cultivate innovation and opportunity, which is a competitive advantage for your startup.

Help Team Members Feel Significant  

An essential component of effective, emotional intelligence for managers is motivating employees and making them feel significant. Show your employees how their work benefits them, their team members, and the entire organization.

When you help your team members understand their impact on your business and their teammates, you help them do their best work and feel valued.

Hold Yourself Accountable

If you expect your teammates to be accountable, then you must be accountable too. When you show your team members your accountability, you become a more integrated part of the team showing team members they can trust you along the way.

T‍his transparency in your leadership also involves the ability to admit when you’re wrong. Revealing areas where you can improve makes you more real and genuine. As a result, team members will follow and support you as a relatable person, rather than just an authority figure.

How to Coach Employees on Emotional Intelligence

Woman coaching a diverse team of staff members

The next step to emotional intelligence for managers is to coach your employees to embrace the same philosophy. By building a foundation of emotional intelligence throughout your organization, you build a bridge between management and employee, which can translate to success at all levels via a trickle-down effect.

Demonstrate Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important

The first step in helping your teammates improve their emotional intelligence is to show them what it means and why it’s important to their success and your organization’s success. The more that you show the value of empathy, self-awareness, and the other tenets of emotional intelligence, the more likely they are to use it on a routine basis.

Help Them Set Up Goals

Once your teammates realize there is a gap in their learning, they need help to fill that gap. Remind your teammates that the best way to achieve success in learning a new skill is to set goals.  SMART goals are an excellent framework for practical goal setting.

SMART goals are an acronymic idea for achievement-setting that includes goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Through this goal-setting foundation, employee performance, soft skills, technical skills emotional intelligence skills, and many other successes follow, depending on the goals you set as a manager for your team.

Provide Support and Feedback

Once your teammates start working towards self-improvement, be sure you support them and give them feedback.

Feedback is an integral part of the learning process as it helps your team members understand where they need to improve and what they can do to ensure they’re making steps in the right direction.

You’ll also want to encourage your teammates through their self-improvement journey as this will help them stay motivated and reach their objectives.

Finally, don’t be afraid to remind your teammates that you’re there to help them when they need it. They’ll appreciate knowing you support them in their goals.

A‍ Little Extra Help Goes a Long Way

If you want to learn how to improve your emotional intelligence as a leader, book a free strategy session with Fahd or subscribe to our newsletter for your weekly dose of leadership development resources.

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