When most people imagine intelligence, they picture a mathematician solving equations, a novelist writing great works of literature or a philosopher expounding on wise principles.
But brilliance takes many forms, not least of which is the ability to comprehend and manage emotions. Known as emotional intelligence, this trait is often overlooked, yet crucial for success as a business leader.
Here's what having emotional intelligence provides you with:
One of the defining features of emotional intelligence is the ability to comprehend the effects of your feelings. This is crucial for making sound, objective decisions when your pride and self-esteem are at stake. All leaders must face situations where their emotions make a decision seem better than it is.
If you previously expressed support for a certain strategy, for example, your pride will be tied up with that strategy, making it harder to recognize if it isn't working. Leaders who have emotional intelligence are more likely to realize when pride and other emotions are influencing their thinking, allowing them to make more rational, impartial choices.
Emotional intelligence is indispensable for leaders
In addition to reigning in your own feelings, emotional intelligence makes it easier to anticipate and respond to others' sentiments. As much as we may want for it to be objective, business is an emotional experience.
Bad news from work can shock or dismay your employees, while good news may make them unreasonably optimistic. Emotional intelligence means you can tell ahead of time how others will react and develop a strategy to keep them grounded.
Those with emotional intelligence have an easier time assessing the emotional and psychological state of their employees. By recognizing threats to your employees’ mental health, you can provide them with the support and professional resources they need to recover. Not only is this good for their health but it promotes a more harmonious, productive workplace.
Leaders with emotional intelligence have an improved ability to gauge others' responses to their words and actions. This makes it easier for you to tell if your employees really understand what you are saying or are confused but unwilling to say so. You can then refine your messages, accordingly, developing reliable ways of communicating with everyone who works for you.
Emotional intelligence also makes it easier for you to listen to what other people are saying clearly and without judgment, ensuring that others can always give you the information you need.
Never underestimate the value of humor in business. A good joke or clever play on words can cheer up dismayed employees, win over skeptical customers and draw positive attention to your brand. If you have emotional intelligence, it will be easier to tell what people will find funny. You can also determine in which situations humor will be appropriate, finding the proper balance between serious work and lightheartedness.
While intelligence is important, emotional intelligence is a key to success in leadership and in being able to relate to others.