There is the constant quest to define the qualities that make a great leader. This quest will go on until the end of time. As it should be, it will be a constantly changing proposition because as a consequence of our rapidly changing environment leaders need to constantly evolve, shift, adapt and ensure they are relevant.
Now more than ever people are seeking genuine connection, not to be treated like a number or someone to simply fill a vacancy. They want to be and feel valued, they want and need purpose and they are seeking strong role models to emulate. All of these are emotional drivers that can often challenge the contemporary leader.
In saying that, one thing that the 21st century leader needs in spades is self-awareness. To effectively manage change, volatility, different generations and the complexities of business leaders need to learn to tap into their EQ to get great results. Let me explain.
EQ, or emotional quotient, refers to our capacity to recognise our own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and, to use emotional information to guide our thinking and behaviours. Our emotions drive our behavior and impact on people, positively or negatively, and EQ refers to how effectively we manage these emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of bestselling book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (believed to be influential in this area) uncovered that our emotions play a much bigger role in thought, decision making and success than is commonly acknowledged.
The five categories of EQ
According to Goleman, there are five components that make up your EQ. Once you understand them you will begin to realise why having a great deal of emotional intelligence makes a huge difference in how effectively you lead people and to your level of success.
The five categories that determine your level of EQ are:
- Self-awareness – your ability to recognise an emotion as it happens. If you can evaluate your emotions you can manage them and understand how your emotions impact on others.
- Self-regulation – if you’re not in control of your emotions, you can become abrasive or resistant to change. Those who can control their emotions, however, avoid the temptation to be controlled by their immediate emotions, take responsibility for their actions, can adapt well in the face of change, and are open to new ideas.
- Motivation – this goes without saying, motivated individuals are constantly striving to improve. They are also less likely to get discouraged when faced with setbacks or opposition. This is critical today because leaders are constantly faced with challenge, change and competition.
- Empathy – your ability to recognise how people feel and how your actions can affect them. Truly understanding someone means putting yourself in his or her shoes. When you can pick up on how others feel, you are in a better position to motivate them.
- Social skills – these are important regardless of what type of career you have. This includes effectively listening and verbally communicating to others.
Emotional intelligence has taken on greater significance as you must be able to better understand, empathise and negotiate with others in what is now a technology-driven global economy. This is not only important for your team but your clients also.
A leader with EQ will be better able to identify and hear what is going on with their people and be able to address concerns before they get to a critical point and reflect in low engagement scores or high turnover rates. More importantly, if you have a high EQ, you’ll be able to engage and inspire your team and build strong relationships with them empowering them to succeed and be the best they can be.