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Viewpoint - Bob Gershberg - May 2022

Emotional Intelligence is a Crucial Element Needed for Effective Leadership

By Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner, Wray Executive Search

Effective leadership is critical to drive and grow our rapidly changing organizations. Emotional intelligence has been identified by many as a crucial element needed for effective leadership. Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is the ability to improve the connection between how we feel and how we act. Both nature and nurture feed emotional intelligence. Part genetic predisposition, part life experience, and part old-fashioned training, emotional intelligence emerges in varying degrees from one leader to the next, and managers apply it with varying skill. Judiciously and compassionately deployed, emotional intelligence spurs leaders, their people, and their organizations to superior performance.  Conversely maliciously applied, it can paralyze leaders or allow them to manipulate followers for personal gain.

Emotional intelligence has the following 4 key components:

  1. Self-Awareness: The ability to know your emotions, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, and recognize their impact on performance and relationships.

  2. Self-Management: The ability to control both positive and negative emotions and impulses and be flexible and adaptive as situations warrant.

  3. Social Awareness: The ability to have empathy for others, navigate politically, and network proactively.

  4. Relationship Management: The ability to inspire through persuasive communication, motivation, building bonds, and disarming conflict among individuals.

The ability to connect emotionally with employees is essential for leadership effectiveness. In part, that’s because the way a leader makes you feel can impact your engagement as well as your productivity. Emotions can weave through every work situation you experience.

As business becomes more complex and the global talent pool gets ever tighter, the success indicators used in talent search are changing. In years past, physical prowess and strength were the leading attributes required. Intelligence, experience and past performance became the next group of essential requirements. Our testing focused on IQ, verbal, analytical and mathematical to determine fit. Specific competencies were at the forefront of the subsequent shift. Emotional intelligence trumped IQ in leadership roles.

The late Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Whether we’re at home or at work, our emotions are woven into our every interaction. They influence how we react to challenges and opportunities. They determine whether we collaborate to resolve conflict. They prompt our willingness to forgive ourselves and others. As we move through our days, our emotions play a role in the amount of effort we demonstrate, what behaviors we display, our psychological health, and our moods.

According to Closing the Engagement Gap, a book by the researchers Julie Gebauer and Don Lowman, only one-fifth of the global workforce is considered fully engaged. That’s especially problematic when organizations go through challenging times like the recent pandemic because, in times like these, employers depend on their employees to help the organization come through strong and equipped for the future. If employees are committed and engaged, they’re more productive, which positively impacts organizational profitability.

Recent studies have found that empathy in the workplace, a factor correlated with emotional intelligence is positively related to job performance as well as our own and other’s emotions. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses. On the other hand, disengaged employees can become a liability. To be more empathetic, and to drive higher engagement in the workplace, emotionally intelligent leaders should strive toward these 4 qualities:

  1. Try to see the world as others see it

  2. Be nonjudgmental

  3. Work to understand another person’s feelings

  4. Communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings

Whether your own behaviors or the actions of others are driving positive or negative emotions, it’s important to understand that both are impactful in different ways. Before you can apply new practices and strengthen your emotional intelligence, assess your current emotions and consider the outcome you want.

Leaders at every level in an organization benefit from high emotional intelligence. Taking the following actions will help you build your emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness:

  1. Connect with employees on a personal level.

When you demonstrate a willingness to help your employees and to recognize their efforts, you show that you care about them as individuals and that you’re an emotionally intelligent leader. This act of caring builds trust between leaders and their employees. Empathy has long been a soft skill that’s overlooked as a performance indicator

  1. Unlock motivations.

As important as compensation and benefits are, we know they are not the only things that matter when it comes to keeping employees productive and engaged. These benefits are a part of a larger motivation equation. Most of the time, understanding what motivates your employees is as easy as asking them and listening to their responses. Once you understand your employees’ motivations, you can improve retention, influence job satisfaction, and help them navigate uncertainty

  1. Seek to understand.

Your ability to understand where your employees are coming from — their social identity and how their experiences may have informed their perspectives — demonstrates a willingness to see the world as others see it, without standing in judgment. Emotionally intelligent leaders who want to harness the power of their employees’ diverse experiences and succeed in the new talent economy must understand and consider people’s different lived experiences to help their teams achieve their full potential.

Building those skills requires increasing your self-awareness, strong active listening skills, and a willingness to learn and recognize your own emotional triggers and weaknesses. Leader effectiveness is constrained or amplified based on how well leaders understand themselves, their awareness of how others view them, and how they navigate the resulting interactions.

Be well! Lead well!

All the best,

Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|

(888) 875-9993 ext 102

Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!

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