Boost your emotional intelligence to become a better manager

Emotional intelligenceThe term “emotional intelligence” was coined back in 1990, but has recently become a popular buzzword in the business community.

Leaders who possess emotional intelligence are more impactful at managing teams and working symbiotically with others. The Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP) also reports a direct correlation between employers who hire employees with high emotional intelligence, and company profitability.

Here’s a deeper look at what emotional intelligence really entails, and how to intentionally take steps to improve yours to be a more effective manager.

The markers of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is measured on a scale called emotional quotient, or EQ. According to The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, a person with high EQ would answer affirmatively to phrases like:

  • I’m willing to adapt to change and new situations.
  • I’m willing to stand up for others.
  • I’m in tune with my own feelings, and those of others.
  • I can communicate my feelings to others.
  • I’m in control of my emotions.
  • I’m driven to accomplish a goal, no matter the challenge.
  • I can consider another person’s perspective without becoming defensive.
  • I’m satisfied with my life.
  • I see the bright side in most situations.
  • I reflect on my own behavior and can admit when I’m wrong.

Why emotional intelligence is complex. Part of what makes emotional intelligence so complex (and so valuable for those who have EQ) is that all of the traits and skills listed above must work consistently in tandem, and adjust appropriately based on the situation at hand.

Leaders with a strong presence are often highly self-confident and self-aware, for example, but these two important measures of emotional intelligence aren’t enough to equate to high EQ if the person can’t take the feelings of others into account, or build connections.

As Harvard Business Review points out, there may come a time when a lack of emotional intelligence catches up to a leader, regardless of how successful she is over the course of her career. A leader who can’t mediate issues peacefully in a way that feels fair to all parties, or can’t connect with teams in order to motivate them in times of challenge will eventually be hindered by lack of emotional intelligence.

Often, individual performers who struggle to succeed in a management role may fail to replicate the same top performance because they need to build emotional intelligence.

Improving your EQ. The good news about emotional intelligence? It’s possible to improve your EQ, if you’re motivated to work consistently at it. While any manager can learn the norms for “scripted behaviors” like making eye contact with others to instill trust, experts say the best way to overcome areas of EQ weakness is through authentic development of it.

Try these simple ways to cultivate your own emotional intelligence each day; challenge your staff to do the same:

  • Interact without expectation. Seek opportunities to interact simply for the sake of the connection. Invite members of your team out to lunch to get to know them; not to discuss work matters, or make them like you, or each other more. Be or find a mentor, join a volunteer committee, or invite other employees to participate in a club based on shared interests or passions.
  • Practice gratitude. Start or end the day with a list of three things for which you are grateful. This builds your awareness and forces you to tune into happenings outside of yourself.
  • Break your media consumption habits. Watch a news program with a point of view opposite of your own. Read magazines that have little to do with your hobbies or interests. Listen to radio stations you’d normally turn off. When you expose yourself to media that’s opposite of the news and entertainment you typically consume, you become more adept at appreciating that which differs from your preferences. Eventually, it’s easier to find the common ground with anyone, even people whose attitudes or thoughts are in opposition to yours.