With time organizations are realizing the importance of Emotional intelligence and that traditional types of intelligence, such as IQ, fail to fully explain cognitive ability. As a child we are encouraged to work in groups. We are taught that by working this way we can learn quickly and always put our learnings into practice. By working together we learn more quickly and become more emotionally intelligent.
The term Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to first recognize our emotions and then control them. It also refers to understanding the emotions of those around you (Mayer, et.al, 2004). Some people are naturally gifted with a certain level of emotional intelligence which is far superior to others, whereas some adapt and learn these techniques. People with relatively higher degree of emotional intelligence understand their feelings and are able to comprehend their feelings. They are also fully aware of how their emotions and feelings can affect other people. This trait is not only essential for leaders, but every individual who tends to impact the life of people around him (Brackett, et.al, 2004). For leaders, having emotional intelligence is one of the most critical factors for success. Effective leaders are participative, team-oriented, charismatic, and humane-oriented. Keeping these basic principles in mind it can be clearly seen that Emotional Intelligence is the key to becoming an effective leader.
Evaluating Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman who was a well-known American psychologist helped to popularize EI. According to his theories there are five main elements of emotional intelligence. These include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. The objective is to become enlightened enough to understand and then regulate these main elements. By successfully doing so, any leader will be able to maximize his personal state of being, and this in turn improves his interactions with those below him. Studies suggest that in order to distinguish the best leaders from the majority, the best way is to check their level of emotional intelligence (Antonakis, House, 2002).
Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Leaders?
Emotional intelligence refers to the capability to manage and understand emotions of ourselves and of those around us. Moreover, the quality of emotional intelligence provides people with several skills, for example, ability to handle relationships, inspire or influence others and to navigate social relationships. Every individual possess different skills; however, to be an effective leader, it is important to have emotional intelligence. This skill has become more important for leaders in today’s business organizations as it helps leaders to influence productivity, increase team collaboration, and to increase operational efficiency. Effective leaders always pay attention to details, define expectations and expect results (Brown, et.al, 2006). One of the problems in organizations today is people don't know what is expected of them. Another problem with leaders is that they measure activity instead of results. A good leader overcomes performance barriers by clearly defining results based on expectations for his or her employees. He should always be sincere in actions involving employees (Atwater, Yammarino, 1992). If you are not sincere about leadership, integrity, goals and plans, respecting individuals and their families, employees will know it. They will sense your lack of sincerity and this will limit your success as a leader. Most people know when their leader is "faking it." A good leader must be sincere in his dealings with employees because his effectiveness is directly related to the effectiveness of the people who report to them (Day, Carroll, 2008).
The true task of leadership involves the ability to make change happen. Although multitudes of research have been done on what makes an effective leader, there appears to be no guaranteed results. Essentially outstanding leaders become a fine balance between traits, abilities, behaviors, sources of power, and aspects of the situation (Antonakis, House, 2002). These become the determining factors of the ability to influence followers and accomplish group objectives. Therefore, any member of group at any one time may assume a leadership role, given any degree of innate traits and the circumstances surrounding the event (Ashkanasy, Daus, 2005). Some the most prominent reason why leaders should cultivate their emotional intelligence includes:
Self awareness enables leaders emotional intelligence to recognize emotions instantly. Moreover, self awareness serves as an important skill for leaders as it enables the, to have a clear understanding of their weaknesses and strengths without any obstacle. Moreover, self awareness also enables leaders to perceive emotions that demands immediate action or response in a particular situation. Thus, self awareness with emotional intelligence helps leaders to address problems in a better way and also avoids any future complications.
The prior skill gives leaders the ability to stay aware of their feelings. The next step is learning how to manage those sentiments. The leaders with high level of emotional intelligence can easily regulate themselves and also remain in control. The leaders with emotional management don’t rush in hasty decision and neither gets angry immediately. Thus, emotional management is important for the people at the managerial levels to manage their emotions that provides them a respected position.
After you have successfully regulated and managed your emotions, it is important that you must possess the ability to describe yourself. There is no use of regulating your feelings till the point you communicate it effectively. For a leader this skill is even more important, as he is in charge of a number of people. If a leader is not successfully able to communicate his feelings to his peers or subordinates, they will feel lost. They are able to easily describe their point of view to convince others. (Brown, et.al, 2006). Hence, communication skills of leaders are their key tool to convince their teams.
Individual with emotional intelligence can easily tune well to the other’s emotions as they can easily understand the ongoing situation around them. Moreover, the leaders can also sympathize with others people letting themselves in other’s shows and providing them with helpful feedback. Self awareness is an important skill for leaders as it helps them to motivate and inspire a team. In case if the leader is not able to empathize with his or her team, them it will be difficult for them to attain loyalty or respect. (Elbers, 2007).
A leader who possesses emotional intelligence, have skills to handle problems at workplace and also provide solutions for them. If a leader has the capability to regulate and manage his emotions, with this skill, leaders can easily resolve conflict between customers, employees, and stake holders (Brown, et.al, 2006). By exercising sound judgment and all these skills, leaders will be able to develop an effective workplace which will benefit the organization in a number of ways.
Common Mistakes Made While Tackling Emotional Intelligence
Most of the huge enterprises and firms are looking for employees with niche set of skills. A number of recruiters are complaining about the lack of talented employers, that is why so many seats are left vacant and companies are unable to hire qualified professionals. Businesses now take it for granted that effective leaders are highly emotionally intelligent. Studies suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and even enhanced in adulthood, but first we must determine that where most of us are going wrong (Elbers, 2007).We must look for ways to learn emotional intelligence, make it a part of our daily life and understand why is it the most crucial skill for an effective leader. In organizations the best and most commonly used mechanism for inculcating this skill in the employees is by making them acquire this skill through team-based learning and practice. We must realize that EI cannot just be learned and implemented by reading a book, but we must practice it in every form (Goleman, 1998). Make sure to discuss and share with your team members. In order to become an effective leader you must practice emotional intelligence on a consistent basis.
How Organizational Leaders can become more Emotionally Intelligent?
Research shows that employees of all ages and levels are of the view that effective leaders must be team players and humane-oriented. They must be able to exercise sound judgment and make decisions by giving consideration to their feelings and emotions. Studies shows that leaders who are able to respect and invite the opinions of their employees, help teams work more effectively with one another, inspire and excite others to do their best work and show compassion toward others at work are considered to be the best (Kouzes, Posner, 2003). A good leader is one who is able to live up to these expectations must demonstrate all these set of values. Emotional intelligence principles also suggest that an effective leader must consider the feelings of his employees and peers. If the leader respects the opinions of his team members, he will be able to earn their trust and confidence and as a result inspire them to perform better (Mandell, Pherwani, 2003).
Leadership challenges are more concerned with fostering behaviors such as showing consideration for others that produce desired outcomes for employees of all generations. The organization must support participative, team-oriented, humane, and charismatic approaches to leadership (Kouzes, Posner, 2003). The performance reviews must be designed in a way so that senior management can gauge if the team leaders are practicing humane behavior and supporting team participation. Efforts need to be made in order to improve the organizational culture, to improve the beliefs about organizational authority. If the organizational authority is managed and kept a close check on the leaders will able exercise their authority in a much better way (Mandell, Pherwani, 2003). Organizational authority has important implications for organizations because it can impact how they perceive organizational policies and how they approach directives from their managers and other superiors. To some degree, compliance with authority is important for ensuring rules are followed and order is maintained. At the same time, questioning authority is also a healthy practice (Goleman, 1998).
For a leader to practice emotional intelligence he should be more participative. A leader must be genuinely open to suggestions and clearly communicate. He should make sure the ideas of others are implemented. Asking for othersideas and input but never building on them or implementing them is not participative; it is just an exercise in futility for employees. An effective leader must always put forward the needs of his subordinates and coworkers (Vrba, 2007). He must be able to help his subordinates so that they can work for efficiently and work towards achieving their goals. For this it is important that he should always understand the problem of their employees and help them resolving their personal conflicts, even if any hindrance is brought during work. By addressing the needs of those working under you, you will not only be able to gain their confidence, but also help them to perform according to the best of their abilities. One of the most prominent traits of an effective leader that he must be able to motivate others and impress them with his foresightedness and humility (Antonakis, House, 2002). He must show passion for your work and respect the people you work with. Emotions are contagious, so if you are able to project enthusiasm, optimism, and exhilaration, there is a likely chance that your team will feel the same and connect with each other in a much better way.
Learning Emotional Intelligence Pays Immediate Dividends
Each and every outcome for practicing emotional intelligence is desirable for an effective leader. It may seem very easy to state, but the challenges of leadership are very daunting and require a lot of effort to achieve just one of them (Moss, et.al, 2006). One of the most promising advantages of emotional intelligence is that you are learning with your peers and you put the learning to practical use on a daily basis. Through this approach you will start seeing the results fairly quickly. Being a leader you will realize that there is a change in the behavior of your team members and by working together, they become more open to new changes. The productivity of your team increases tremendously. Emotional intelligence plays an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills are of negligible importance (Nelis, et.al, 2011). In other words, a leader is considered to be a better performer due to his better emotional intelligence capabilities.
Other researchers have confirmed that emotional intelligence not only distinguishes outstanding leaders but can also be linked to strong performance. The findings of the late David McClelland, the renowned researcher in human and organizational behavior, are a good example. In a 1996 study of a global food and beverage company, McClelland found that when senior managers had a critical mass of emotional intelligence capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%. Meanwhile, division leaders without that critical mass underperformed by almost the same amount(Nelis, et.al, 2011).
Studies and research tells us a very persuasive story about the link between a company’s success and the emotional intelligence of its leaders. For leaders to develop emotional intelligence they must be fully committed and driven. It can be said without any doubt that possessing excellent emotional intelligence capabilities are beneficial for both individual and the organization.
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