What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why Your Leaders Need It

Emotional Intelligence. Say what?

Emotional Intelligence is a buzzword that often is used in the workplace when discussing leadership.

Does anyone really understand what it means? With all my schooling on Leadership with a focus on Emotional Intelligence, I have spent thousands of hours reading and researching the subject so you don’t have to.

Let’s take out the hype and talk about the importance and practicality of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in real life.

Textbook version: Emotional Intelligence is the learned ability to identify, experience, understand and express human emotions in healthy and productive ways. 

Identify Emotions

You have to be able to identify emotions in yourself and others. Have you ever had that conversation where all of a sudden someone is upset or hurt and you don’t know why?

Using EI allows you to learn the skills needed to detect emotions in others — to become more aware of yourself and your emotions; to become more aware of the situations you find yourself in and how to handle the emotions around you.

Identifying the emotion of another is the first step to being able to increase your effectiveness when it comes to communication.

Experience Emotions

This means allowing yourself to be emotional.

That’s right, I said it.

You have to be emotional. Human beings have emotions.

When we fight our emotions, we usually end up getting ourselves in trouble.

Experiencing the emotion is one thing; using emotions to make decisions is a whole other thing. You need to be able to experience the emotion and be aware enough to identify the emotion you are feeling. This allows you to be more authentic and honest with yourself and to increase your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Understand emotions

This requires empathy. The ability to understand where another person is coming from. You do not have to agree or sympathize with their plight; instead, you have to accept that it is how they feel and that it is relevant to the situation.

This is the No. 1 reason leaders need Emotional Intelligence.

Being able to understand where another person is coming from and being able to empathize with them. This is what allows you to gain influence over others. This skill allows you to work more effectively with others.

Emotions + Healthy + Productive

This ability is the one that takes the longest to learn but has the greatest impact.

Here’s why: You have to be able to demonstrate that you are angry, without being aggressive. You have to be able to express your sadness without always crying. Being able to feel the emotion, identify it, and then express it in the best way possible for the current situation is a HUGE win for leaders. This is what allows leaders to have followers even on bad days.

When you are able to express your disappointment in someone in a way that empowers and motivates them to do more, then you are really leading.

Emotional Intelligence is really about communicating.
It is about being aware of your emotions and the emotions of those around you.
It is about thinking about the group as a whole when making decisions.
It is about looking at the bigger picture.
It is about helping others to feel empowered to achieve their goals.
It is about doing all these things in a way that makes you likable and trustworthy.

This can seem overwhelming, but it’s doable. I’m happy to help you along to EI excellence.