Experienced professionals with sophisticated technical skills sometimes miss leadership opportunities because they lack emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent leaders place relationships, communication, and team accomplishments above individual success and IQ.
The key elements that compose an emotionally intelligent leader include self-awareness, emotional regulation, and effective relationships. These attributes build trust and act as the foundation for a healthy team environment in the following ways.
Self-Awareness and Emotion Regulation
Team management requires leaders to be aware of the skills, personalities, and characteristics of team members. With this knowledge, leaders can define roles and build teams that work well together. However, none of this can be accomplished if the leader does not possess self-awareness. According to studies, only 10 to 15 percent of leaders are genuinely self-aware.
Organizations can improve this percentage by encouraging leaders and team members to participate in 360-degree feedback. This activity requires evaluations from oneself, one’s peers, and one’s supervisors. This feedback is the foundation of self-awareness. With self-awareness, a leader can learn to regulate their negative, or perceived negative, emotions in order to increase team motivation and decrease stress.
Self-awareness also plays a role in communication. Leadership development firms cite empathy as the primary leadership skill because it allows leaders to understand different perspectives and ideas. Leaders who learn how to listen are capable of building teams in which every voice is valued. Additionally, empathetic leaders can help motivate teams through difficulties and align goals with team strengths. The results are highly motivated teams that achieve innovative solutions.
As mentioned above, self-awareness is the foundation for empathy. Learning to listen and empathize reduces the risk of negative conflicts. Instead, team members model leader behavior and listen to differing ideas without hostility. When all team members learn to resolve conflicts positively, team productivity improves along with team relationships.
Positive team dynamics aren’t an accident. Successful teams aren’t an anomaly. Emotionally intelligent leaders build teams using empathy, clear communication, and healthy interpersonal relationships. If your goal is to lead, then it is necessary to develop your emotional intelligence. You can start the process by participating in a 360-degree feedback activity and by reading the work of emotional intelligence experts such as Daniel Goleman and Howard Gardner.