A Manager's Guide to Improving Emotional Intelligence at Work
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 emotional intelligence 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. Still, 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, I help give you a full understanding of emotional intelligence and how you can leverage yourself as a manager. Read on to learn:
✔️ The meaning of emotional intelligence and why it’s important to you as a manager.
✔️ Three strategies you can use to improve your emotional intelligence.
✔️ How to lead with emotional intelligence.
✔️ Four steps to coaching your employees on emotional intelligence.
✔️ Methods you can use to test you and your teammate’s emotional intelligence including a downloadable resource.
Table of Contents:
What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Is It Important
What do I mean by emotional intelligence?
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 reactions means you can identify the emotions they’re feeling and why they’re feeling them as well as how you can negotiate the situation given the involved emotional responses.
According to researcher Daniel Goleman, there are five characteristics of emotional:
1. Internal Motivation
This is the drive to achieve goals for personal reasons rather than for rewards and recognition.
For example taking care of your mental health. You don’t work on your psychological well-being primarily because of rewards and recognition, you do it for you and to help yourself because it helps you feel good.
Internal motivation is a critical factor in emotionally intelligent leadership because it fuels curiosity and self-improvement.
To be empathetic is to have the ability to identify with others while also relating with them and understanding their position.
For example, Sara was empathetic towards John when he told her that he was unable to reach a deadline because he was feeling unwell the day of the submission.
Sara is able to empathize with John because she understands how it can be hard to get work done when you’re not feeling well, as a result she allowed him to change the deadline of the submission.
Empathy is essential for emotionally intelligent leadership because it’s a necessary component of providing quality feedback as it allows you to connect with and support others. Additionally, empathy also helps you to understand the challenges and motivations your employees face.
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 behaviours.
For example, being able to recognize that when your colleague plays loud music next to you it makes you anxious because you’re unable to focus on your own work tasks which cause you to submit poor quality, or late work.
Self-awareness is crucial to emotionally-intelligent leadership because to understand others’ emotions. You must first understand your own.
This is your ability to manage your emotions and impulses. In other words, “thinking before you act.” It’s a skill that allows you to separate yourself from your emotions.
For example, when John handed in a poor quality project, Sara used this as an opportunity to coach him rather than express her frustration.
The possession of self-regulation is an essential complement of emotionally intelligent leadership because it allows you to analyze scenarios calmly and objectively rather than allowing irrational emotions to lead.
This refers to your social skills and your ability to manage relationships effectively.
Your social skills allow you to be in groups, bring people together, and create a sense of belonging among team members.
Sociability is an essential component of emotionally-intelligent leadership because it is the most vital part of leading. If you can’t bring people together and foster passion in those around you, there will be no force to drive your business.
Why is emotional intelligence important?
Emotional intelligence is essential in business because it’s essential for successful business leadership.
Expertise in emotional intelligence enables leaders to understand better and motivate people who follow them.
Emotional intelligence can do wonders for the productivity, performance, and management of team members and profitability for the business overall.
Whatsmore, in his determination to answer the question, what makes a great leader? Daniel Goldman found that out of three abilities, technical, cognitive, and emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence proved to be 2x more important than any other skill! 🤯
It turns out emotional intelligence is THE MOST important leadership skill.
Emotional intelligence is THE MOST important leadership skill.
Best Practices for Improving Emotional Intelligence
Now that you understand the importance of emotional intelligence, I have no doubt you want to learn how to improve.
Below I list three easy steps to help you improve your emotional intelligence.
1. Recognize your emotions and name them.
A key component of emotional intelligence is understanding emotions and the best place to understand others’ emotions is to understand your own.
Take time to self reflect.
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.
Being able to name your feelings and temper your reactions accordingly is a crucial step towards improved emotional intelligence.
2. Ask for feedback.
Another essential component of high emotional intelligence is the alignment of your self-perception and the world’s perception.
Now don’t get me wrong here, let the haters go on and hate, hate, hate as Taylor Swift says, but there is a certain amount of our identities held in the hands of others, so it’s important to audit our self-perceptions from time to time.
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.
For example, ask them how you respond to challenging situations, how empathetic you are, or how you handle difficult situations and see how this aligns with your view of these answers.
If your self-perception is equal to how others perceive you, then you’re well on your way to high emotional intelligence. If not, then you know where you need to improve.
3. Read literature with complex characters.
According to Harvard Professional Development, numerous studies have shown that reading literature with complex characters helps improve your empathy.
Empathy is the core complement to emotional intelligence, so you must work to improve it.
When you read stories about other people’s perspectives, it helps you gain insight into others’ thoughts, motivations, and actions, which improves your overall social awareness.
Here are some books I suggest:
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
If you want to learn even more tips and tricks to help you improve your emotional intelligence, check out my blog, Exceptional Leaders Have This Critical Skill, Do You?
You can also check out this new emotional intelligence self-assessment resource by filling out the information below:
How to Manage With Emotional Intelligence
Once you have a firm understanding of what emotional intelligence is and how to improve it yourself, you must learn how to lead with it.
Keep reading to learn five easy ways to help you lead your team with emotional intelligence. 👇
1. Be mindful of your team’s needs.
As a team leader, it’s your job to ensure your teammates have the best opportunity to work to the best of their abilities.
It’s crucial that your sensitivity radar is always on. You must be aware 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.
2. Embrace differences on your team.
We’re all our unique individuals, which means we all see things differently and need different things to help us reach our full potential.
The key to being a great team leader is understanding how to leverage differences in your teammates and assigning them tasks unique to their talents and abilities.
As a manager, it’s your job to accommodate different needs on your team.
Differences fuel unique perspectives and cultivate innovation and opportunity, which is a competitive advantage for your startup.
3. Help team members experience significance.
An essential component of effective, emotionally intelligent leadership is motivating your employees.
Show your employees how their work benefits them and 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.
To understand what you can do to show employees their impact read my article, Here’s How to Make Your Employees Feel Valued at Work.
4. Be accountable, like everyone else.
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 and less mysterious, showing team members they can trust you.
Show transparency in your leadership and admit when you’re wrong. Revealing areas where you can improve makes you more real and genuine.
Team members follow and support leaders who are approachable and relatable.
How to Coach Employee on Emotional Intelligence
The next step to leading with emotional intelligence can coach your employees in it.
Below I provide you with four steps to help you coach your teammates in improving their emotional intelligence.
1. Show them what it is and why it’s 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.
Use my discussion above, What is Emotional Intelligence and Why is it Important, to show them the definition of emotional intelligence and why it’s vital to their career success. The graphic above is also helptful to solidfy employee understanding of emotional intelligence as it shows them other quotients it is comparable to.
If your teammates are more visual learners, you can also share the video below with them to help them understand the concept of emotional intelligence.
2. Help your teammates become more self-aware.
The next step in helping your teammates improve their emotional intelligence is enhancing their self-awareness and self-perception.
When teammates are aware of their emotions and reactions and how others perceive those emotional reactions, it creates a perspective shift.
A perspective shift is an essential step in the learning process as it helps an individual understand the present gap and what they need to do to close the gap.
3. Help them set-up a goal.
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.
Help your teammates to set accurate goals by walking them through the SMART goal-setting process.
To learn how to teach your teammates about SMART goal setting, check out my article, Your Ultimate Guide To Hosting a Productive Employee Performance Review.
4. Give them feedback and provide support.
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.
To learn more about what you can do to improve your coaching skills, check out my Coach Approach video below. 👇
Resources for Assessing Emotional Intelligence
Here I have collected numerous resources for you to help you and your team assess your emotional intelligence.
☑️ If you're looking for an assessment that is fun, easy, and free to use check out: Global Leadership Foundation Emotional Intelligence Test
☑️ If you desire a test that is a bit more comprehensive but still within a free price range check out: Psychology Today Emotional Intelligence Test
☑️ If you don't mind spending a bit of money for more accuracy try this assessment: Talent Smart Emotional Intelligence Test
☑️ For other soft skill testing including I recommend checking out PSI testing: PSI Soft Skills Testing
Although there is no finalized, agreed upon psychometric tool for assessing emotional intelligence these resources listed above are all a great place to get you started and on the right track towards improving your emotionall intelligence! 💪
Receive your emotional intelligence self-assessment resource by filling out the information below:
Your Take-Home Message
From this article, you have learned the definition and importance of emotional intelligence.
You now understand the five attributes that make up emotional intelligence and why it’s an essential part of career success.
I’ve shared three strategies you can use to help you improve your emotional intelligence and tactics to help you manage your team with emotional intelligence.
I’ve described four steps that you can use to help coach your employees as they work to improve their emotional intelligence and provide you with resources that you can use to test you and your team’s emotional intelligence.
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.