How important is emotional intelligence to leadership?
When hiring for leadership roles, many tend to look for professionals with experience and hard skills. Research reveals that strengths related to emotional intelligence play a huge role in the success of managers, though.
Those possessing a high level of emotional intelligence have a connection with their own emotions, as well as the ability to recognize, relate to and influence the emotions of others. Leaders with high emotional intelligence create more connected and motivated teams.
The skills people with emotional intelligence possess make them effective managers. Some include the ability to inspire others, personal integrity, communication skills and comfort with building relationships, among others.
Emotional intelligence leadership is necessary for managers and executives. It often leads to better business outcomes, happier employees and more productive teams.
Understanding Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Psychologist Howard Gardner simply defined emotional intelligence as “the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.” People who excel in their emotional intelligence can be easy to recognize. They “know themselves very well and are also able to sense the emotions of others,” according to the book Knowledge Solutions. “They are affable, resilient and optimistic.”
The theory behind emotional intelligence has led to a framework where five domains describe basic personal and social competencies.
- Self-awareness relates to recognizing one’s emotions and feelings. Key questions surround whether people understand how they feel and what their strengths and limits are.
- Self-regulation relates to controlling certain traits. Key questions surround whether people are trustworthy, in control of their impulses, flexible, innovative and responsible.
- Self-motivation relates to internal drive. Key questions surround whether people can meet a standard of excellence, align to specific goals, act on opportunities and remain optimistic despite setbacks.
- Social awareness relates to empathy. Key questions surround whether people can sense, anticipate or understand their concerns, needs and abilities.
- Social skills relate to areas where relationships can excel. Key questions surround whether people can build bonds, collaborate, team build, lead, communicate and influence others.
Those skills are important in nearly every area of workplace performance. For instance, a survey from TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence was the best predictor of performance. It explained 58% of success in all types of jobs. Additionally, 90% of top performers were high in emotional intelligence, while only 20% of bottom performers were high in emotional intelligence.
Applying emotional intelligence to leadership is quite natural. As managers and other business leaders are responsible for overseeing employees, developing their skills and maximizing their performance, emotions play a crucial role. Emotional intelligence covers several critical skills that businesses and teams need to function, such as communication, conflict resolution, pursuing excellence and more.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Surprisingly, emotional intelligence is a relatively new theory. It was first popularized when author and journalist Daniel Goleman published a book in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. That book and his subsequent research determined that emotional intelligence accounted for 67% of the abilities necessary for superior leadership performance.
The expert in emotional intelligence has made it clear how foundational the topic is to business. “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far,” Goleman said. The science behind emotional intelligence in business has confirmed how important the topic is. In fact, Goleman wrote on this personal website that the biggest surprise to him surrounding emotional intelligence is its impact in the business world. He quoted a popular statement from The Harvard Business Review, which referred to emotional intelligence as a “ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea that is one of the most influential business ideas of the decade.”
Emotional intelligence can determine business success. Likewise, its absence can lead to basic, preventable failures. Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be improved, and in doing so, it can help you become a better leader. Pursue both goals with an online master’s in organizational leadership that teaches you how to build a collaborative performance culture in the workplace, communicate strategic visions, analyze complex environments, and make difficult decisions as a leader.
The program from St. Ambrose University will prepare you for success in a variety of career fields, including health care, education, public relations, human resources and more. It takes place fully online, allowing you the freedom to study when and where you want, at your own pace. More than 95% of graduates from the program consider the degree a factor in their achievements, while 45% have been promoted and 60% have taken a new job they considered an advancement in their careers.