When asked to identify the essential traits for high performing leaders, most would propose answers, such as charisma, resilience, purpose, determination. These are just a few of the traits that are typically used to define a leader, however many great leaders have a single quality in common and that is their level of Emotional Intelligence, referred to as EQ.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to understand and manage our emotions and of those around us and to utilise such knowledge to influence others through emotional regulation and control. As such, it represents a critically important competency for effective leadership and team performance in colleges today.
This quality provides a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others. Every individual possesses different levels, but in order for you to become a very effective leader, you’ll need a high level of emotional intelligence. In today’s workplace, it has become a highly important factor for sustained success, influencing outcomes, achieving high team engagement, financial stability, fast growth, high efficiency and team collaboration.
A recent study by Harris Poll found that 77 percent of employers believe these “soft skills” are just as important as hard skills. What gets you hired into leadership is your IQ but what makes you successful is your EQ.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence
I recently witnessed how vital this is, when a manager who rose through the ranks based on his technical prowess, started struggling due to low Emotional Intelligence. His technical excellence opened numerous doors on his path to leadership, but he quite quickly started to feel disconnected from the people he was leading.
This new role put him in charge of his previous colleagues, and his instincts took over when team members presented solutions to problems. He felt he had to demonstrate that he was better than them and fell back on his years of experience to provide better answers. He soon faced resistance and plummeting morale — to the point that human resources received negative comments about his leadership style.
He had built his career on understanding the technical know-how, but his performance measure no longer relied on those abilities, he needed to adopt new skills and change the way he approached certain activities and situations. Success is achieved by the ability to build relationships, develop employees, and motivate a high-performing team.
In other words, he lacked what organisations need the most now - emotional intelligence. Education and Healthcare leaders have to take on new roles of facilitating, coordinating, and orchestrating the work behaviour of others to achieve the desired high performance.
Increased neuroscience evidence in recent years suggests that social effectiveness skills are crucial to the performance and effectiveness of leaders.
In addition to the changes in leadership roles, teachers, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have also been placed in positions of self-management, and are held directly accountable for their performance. They are required to work effectively with learners and provide quality care to patients, in order to accomplish complex organisational objectives.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at her team when she is under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation and makes effective decisions with her team?
A leader’s emotional intelligence can have far-reaching influence over your relationships, how you manage your teams, and generally how you interact with individuals in the workplace.
According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularise emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to it:
- Social skills.
The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence. So, let's look at each element in more detail and examine how you can grow as a leader.
Once you transition into a leadership role, you become accountable for more than just yourself. You are directly responsible for the success of your institution, organisation or team. Numerous facets hinge on your ability to relate to colleagues. It’s no coincidence that 71 percent of hiring managers and HR professionals value EQ more than IQ.
Leaders who can recognise their own emotions in relation to how it affects their behaviour, are better able to control their own impulses and handle change and managers who understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of others tend to enjoy better relationships and greater success. Performance is about more than simply technical expertise — it relies on your ability to influence and relate to people.
Leaders with emotional intelligence, understand how they feel and are aware of how their emotions and actions can affect the people around them. This is a vital skill to be a high performing leader, as it helps you to obtain a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and it means behaving with humility. As a result, you become better able to address problems and handle complications.
Emotional Intelligent leaders possess the ability to actually guide interactions amongst team members to meet desired goals.
This next step is learning how to manage emotions. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to regulate their emotions and stay in control. With this skill, you are unlikely to rush headlong into hasty decisions, or let your anger take over your actions. It is vital that people in leadership positions keep their emotions under control, as it will help you gain the respect of your teams and employees.
Leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control.
This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader's flexibility and commitment to personal accountability .
The ability of an emotional intelligent leader to adapt to the social context through self-regulation allows you to remain calm and less stressed, even when faced with a shortfall of specialist staff, team conflicts, or other situations that might prove detrimental to overall team organisation and effectiveness. You are able to react to problematic situations in a controlled and constructive manner.
Self-motivated (Emotional Intelligent) leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards because they focus their attention and provide a clear path for success.
It is critical as a leader to have empathy, to enable you effectively manage a successful team or organisation. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. With the fast pace of change in education and healthcare, leaders need to be empathetic to develop the people in their organisation or teams, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and be good listeners.
To earn the respect, commitment and loyalty of your team, you need to show them you care by being empathic and this requires "a rewiring of the brain, a retraining of your minds and habits.
Leaders with emotional intelligence are well tuned to the emotions of others and are able to pick up on what is going on around them. Having good social skills enables you manage change and resolve conflicts diplomatically. Acquiring these skills will enable you as a leader get your team to support you and be excited about change.
In order to gain and maintain a competitive advantage, your valuable employees must be able to adapt well to the internal and external changing education and healthcare landscape.
In order to be a high performing leader, you need to be able to inspire and motivate others, support employee′s needs, nurture development, communicate with purpose, meaning, and vision and finally foster ingenuity, imagination, and autonomous thinking.
At all levels, true high performing leadership is about much more than management and task distribution―it′s about commitment, collaboration, nurturing talent, developing skills and fostering relationships.