Strong and effective relationships are the currency of successful leaders, and emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of those relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders possess and communicate a consistent set of values, purpose, and vision to achieve results. These behaviors are at the heart of successful leadership.
Empathy is the core attribute of leading with emotional intelligence. The ability to understand the emotions and needs of others is found in all six competencies presented in our course, Leading with Emotional Intelligence. A leader must have empathy to successfully energize, engage, and unleash the full potential of diverse teams.
Below are the six competencies of emotionally intelligent leaders:
Influence: Building your personal influence requires that you pay attention to the impact of your communication on others. Understand that your nonverbal signals are just as critical as your word choices and phrasing to the message received by others. Coaching also strengthens your influence. Applying coaching practices as you meet with team members will boost performance, build engagement and commitment, and accelerate the change process.
Inspiration: This is the “lift” that will infuse people with the sense of optimism and possibility that carries them forward, despite the challenges of the present moment. One way to ensure that a team is inspired is to create a work environment that is more positive than negative, more focused on recognizing what people do well and learning from mistakes than on the shame of failure. An emotionally intelligent leader also knows how to explicitly connect people to and through stories, such as “Here is the vision and possibility we’re moving toward, and you are part of creating the future!”
Collaboration: A team’s ability to work together for a common purpose depends largely on having an emotionally intelligent leader who knows how to harness their diversity of opinions, needs, and talents and focus all on achieving the desired result or vision. Trust and trust-building are critical for emotionally intelligent leadership.
Change: Change is accelerating, requiring everyone in the workplace to develop skills that support resilience and agility. The emotionally intelligent leader knows that overlooking the people side of change, and employees’ emotional reactions to change, is equivalent to sabotaging a change effort. The leader must learn to elicit the concerns people have and address those concerns authentically while shifting the focus to future possibilities.
Healthy conflict: The emotionally intelligent leader recognizes the central role of relationships in building high-performance teams. Be sure to co-develop, with your team, a set of conflict practices to establish rules of engagement for healthy discussion and disagreement. This process needs to be a leadership priority. The opposite behavior is group think or both active and passive resistance, which leads to a lack of innovation and failure.
Emotionally intelligent team leadership: Team building requires the continual development and integration of the competencies described above.
Leaders who demonstrate emotional intelligence are known as effective, agile, and able to shape innovative cultures. Look to discover your strengths as a leader and seek feedback to learn the emotional intelligence blind spots that may be blocking you from achieving your potential.