In the world of leadership, soft skills are truly integral to the success of those wanting to move up in an organization. So often, when we teach leadership skills or do one-on-one management coaching with clients, I see that they are very technically competent (e.g., engineers, IT professionals, quantity surveyors or accountants) but do not always have the people skills that are truly necessary to lead. They are often very adept in the technical skills and have been rewarded through promotions, but they are not often trained in the competencies that could make them truly successful.
The people skills are those that relate to emotional intelligence. Data shows that intelligence (IQ) often gets you in the door for a job, but emotional intelligence (EQ) is what helps leaders to move up more quickly. When an employee moves into management and leadership, their responsibility becomes less about doing the work and more about managing the people. And emotional intelligence can be learned; like a fine wine, emotional intelligence can come with age and maturity.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is often defined as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”
EQ, then, is the way that we become aware of our own emotions, understand how to manage those emotions, become aware of other people’s emotions and interact with others. All of these skills are at the heart of how we understand ourselves and build healthy relationships with others. And as we lead, the skills of emotional intelligence become more and more important in order to influence others, manage conflict, have empathy and build strong relationships.
What are the components of emotional intelligence?
As Business Coaches and Psychologists, we often use the EQ-i 2.0 model of emotional intelligence. It breaks EQ down into five components:
- Self-Perception: understanding and awareness of your own emotions
- Self-Expression: expressing and managing your emotions
- Interpersonal: developing and maintaining relationships
- Decision Making: using emotions to make better decisions
- Stress Management: coping with stress and other challenges
These five components make up the whole, and within each component, there are three further sub-components. Every time we have conducted an EQ assessment, it has been quite eye-opening for the individual receiving the results. Blind spots can sometimes derail the advancement of an individual rather than moving toward continued leadership results.
How do you focus on growing EQ?
- Develop an understanding of your own emotions. Begin to notice how you are feeling at any given moment. How often are you in a good mood at work? Moods are contagious. Leaders often set the “weather” in organizations. What forecast are you bringing to your office every day?
- Learn how to manage your emotions. Notice when you are in a negative or positive mood. Pause before acting or reacting. Imagine a performance conversation with your employee if you were in a negative state of mind versus a positive state of mind. What would be different? Work to shift your emotional state by taking a walk, venting to a co-worker or friend, listening to music, taking some deep breaths or anything else that you find helps you.
- Develop empathy. Empathy is the state of understanding what other people are feeling. When interacting with others, begin to listen and understand where the other person is coming from. Then you can truly empathize in order to have the best interaction with them.
Emotional intelligence is a key skill for leaders. If you need to build up this skill, it can be practiced and developed so you can become the best leader you can be.
*thank you Forbes Magazine for this brilliant source of infromation