Why is emotional intelligence an important quality of a leader? What makes up a leader? For most, they would say leaders should be knowledgeable, skilled, popular, powerful and so on. However, one of the most important qualities that a leader should have, has not been mentioned. It is the quality of being able to stay in touch with oneself, and with other people.
Emotional intelligence is being aware of one’s emotions and other people’s emotions and having the capacity to express and control it. It is also a trait that helps people influence other people’s emotions, and reactions too. As a leader, one should have enough emotional intelligence for him or her to lead a group, a team or a company successfully in fulfilling goals and objectives. A leader may act as the head but when the leader doesn’t have the support of the team, group or company, their cause or purpose is put to waste.
What are the elements that bring about emotional intelligence of a quality leader?
1. Emotional awareness
As mentioned earlier, the leader acts as the head. If the leader is only focused on his or her emotions, their decisions and actions will only be based on what they personally feel is right, and not on what they as a leader, should decide on. This would be considered a self centred approach as there is no consideration of others and their emotions. One needs to be aware of his or her OWN emotions and know how, and when, to express them. He or she should also be aware of other people’s emotions and have the ability to influence behaviour around those emotions. Emotional intelligence is also being aware of how others feel (‘empathy’) and being able to become an influencer through the work and relationship, thus helping others decide or work around their emotions.
2. Drive to work for the goal
Being driven and focused should always be a factor present in a leader’s determination and cause. Working towards your team goals or group’s objectives or the company’s ideals or vision must always be a leader’s objective. The leader is one of the most effective influencers. Be driven even when facing adversity, is when the people you lead will see the good or the purpose of the situation and will more likely to follow you and be inspired. When a leader has emotional intelligence, he’ll be driven to work for the goal of the company, and the people he or she leads, follow whole-heartedly.
3. Be in their shoes
Leading people is not easy. It is not just giving instructions, directives or mandates. Leading people is more than that. For one to be considered a leader, one must be able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective (again this is called ‘empathy’). When a leader has this, his emotional intelligence is at work and allows him to be flexible with his decisions and actions. It’s true that not everybody will be happy with a leader’s decision, however, trying to see it from the perspective of the people you lead, gives you a different angle which will give you avenues and alternatives- more suggestions or revisions of the plan, if need be.
A leader has to affect the people he or she leads. They should be able to develop a relationship for the team, group or company to succeed. In a company, a healthy working relationship produces great output. What brings about that relationship? Rapport. Rapport is an act that brings fosters good relationships. This allows both the leader and the people to build a good foundation of communication. Communication is an essential sign of emotional intelligence. When the communication between the leader and the people is good, and rapport is exhibited, that is a sign of a good working relationship within the team, group or company. Both the leader and the people being led will join forces and work harmoniously to reach the company’s goals.
A leader without emotional intelligence is like a robot driving a train. Emotional intelligence = quality leader. Leaders are people and they lead people too. Both have emotions. A leader should have emotional intelligence for the working relationship or team/group relationship to prosper. The leader should be able to identify and manage his or her emotions and should know how to express them constructively. The leader should also become aware of the people’s emotions and must have the will to influence them into working together collectively towards the fulfilment of their goals. This can only happen when their communication channel is open, when they have a healthy working relationship, and when they unite in working towards their goal/s. A lot is put upon the leader and having emotional intelligence is what makes the leader’s load lighter with the cooperation of the people he or she leads.
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