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Three Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Benefit Leaders in the Workplace

November 19, 2020

In the modern workplace, “emotional intelligence” is just as important as, if not more important than, logical intelligence. Oxford defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Experts on emotional intelligence call it “EQ” (emotional quotient) to emphasize its similarity to IQ as a measure for intellectual capabilities. Because the brain is always creating neural pathways, our EQ, like our IQ, is improvable; we can train our brains to better recognize, control, and express emotions in our interpersonal relationships. Below, WBD shares three ways that leaders and managers can benefit from emotional intelligence:

Developing “How” Skills

Psychologists David Rosete and Joseph Ciarrochi found that leaders and managers who scored higher on emotional intelligence tests were “more likely to achieve business outcomes and be considered as effective leaders by their subordinates. They argue that emotional intelligence is essential to a leader’s “how” skills. In other words, their ability to ‘get things done.’ How skills reflect a leader’s ability to not only complete complex projects, but also to manage and interact well with others. Leaders who have low EQ will frequently alienate their teammates, leading to high turnover and team underperformance.

Managing Relationships, Not Just Outcomes

EQ does not mean avoiding conflict or difficult conversations, but the techniques associated with four values explained by Lauren Landry from Harvard Business School Online are able to improve job performance in a variety of domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Self-awareness can be improved by evaluating one’s performance against a review or peer feedback. The emotionally intelligent leader will routinely collect this constructive criticism via workplace conversations, which are themselves more informative than anonymous surveys. Self-management entails noticing your reactions to stressful situations, and remembering to collect yourself in stressful situations. Social awareness requires empathy with colleagues’ perspectives, and relationship management requires treating employees with respect and addressing difficult issues in the workplace upfront before they fester below the surface.

Accepting Criticism, and Improving from It

Healthline magazine gives one key example of emotional intelligence in the workplace: accepting constructive criticism. By controlling your emotions, you can mitigate immediate reactions of guilt, anger, or blame and consider logically that the person offering criticism is most likely doing it to help you (that is why it’s constructive!). It is especially important for leaders and managers to accept criticism and improve from it, so that their workers do not perceive that their business is run by people who think they are “above” critique. Aside from how current leaders can improve, businesses should factor EQ in their hiring and promotional decisions. Psychologist Kalpana Srivastava found that emotional intelligence can be a useful indicator for evaluating talent. This is why a survey from CareerBuilder found that 71% percent of employers say they prioritize emotional intelligence over logical intelligence.

How do I measure my EQ?

There are many credible tests online for self-assessment of emotional intelligence, and executives and managers should incorporate the results – and what they recommend – into their workplace leadership. There are also many tips for employees at all levels who are working with teams, in large and small organizations, that are posted to this webpage. For more, please be sure to follow Washington Business Dynamics on LinkedIn, and also scroll through the list of articles published on this media page.

Because a good product or service depends upon the interpersonal relationships that fulfill it, EQ is essential to leaders in the modern workplace. If you are a business leader who wants to develop your “how” skills, manage relationships with self-awareness and social awareness, and accept constructive criticism in order to improve from it, testing and building upon your emotional intelligence should be the very next thing you do today.

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