Become a better leader by learning how to respond to emotionally charged situations
Imagine sitting at a round table meeting with your boss and co-workers. Your boss has a new process she’s introducing to the team, and she’s excited about it. However, right away your co-workers start complaining and criticizing the new strategy – they feel that this is going to slow down workflow and make their jobs harder. Your boss gets offended, ends the meeting early and shuts the door to her office for the rest of the day.
There’s another way this can go. An emotionally intelligent leader wouldn’t take the criticism personally, even if it’s harsh. They would listen to the feedback, take some time to think it over and then re-gather everyone with an update. They may say that the process still has to be tested out or they may make changes based on the employee’s concerns, but either way, the decision will be communicated calmly, clearly, and respectfully.
This is the difference between an emotionally volatile leader and an emotionally intelligent one. Which type of leader do you think will get the best out of their team? Which type of boss would you want to work for every day?
An Overview of Emotional Intelligence
There are a number of ways to define emotional intelligence – some are simplistic, while others are lengthy and complex. Inc. defines it clearly and simply by saying, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.” Emotional intelligence is about responding instead of reacting to situations that would normally cause you to partially or completely lose control of yourself. It’s also about understanding how others are likely to feel or react so that you can meet their emotions in a way that will improve the situation instead of making it worse.
Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
While emotional intelligence can be practiced in your personal life, it’s a fantastic skill for leaders in the workplace to master. It may even be more important than intellectual ability. Emotionally intelligent leaders can bring about greatness for their company in several ways:
- Creating a healthy and supportive workplace culture.
- Handling conflict in a way that truly resolves the problem, which includes apologizing when appropriate.
- Attracting qualified, trustworthy talent to become part of the team.
- Encouraging employees to collaborate with one another in a way that’s both inspirational and respectful.
- Showing employees how to be authentic, strong leaders themselves.
And, of course, being an excellent leader can also lead to financial growth and improve the bottom line. Overall, emotional intelligence in the workplace is about being a trustworthy leader and showing employees that being genuine and telling the truth is the best way to grow a company. Bonus: this type of workplace culture also positively impacts how customers view a company.
4 Important Traits of an Emotionally Intelligent and Successful Leader
There are specific emotional intelligence skills that leaders can possess if they want to boost business performance. You probably won’t have every single one of these skills from the start. However, you can make the most of your strengths while slowly improving your weaker areas.
Great leaders know how they’re viewed by their employees, even if that means accepting negative views of themselves. By being honest about how you come across, you can start improving. A cornerstone of emotional intelligence is adaptability and not being afraid to change. To exercise your self-awareness muscle, be open to your employees’ views, listen to their concerns and always remain empathetic.
In addition to being adaptable and flexible when it comes to your own growth, great leaders also know which type of leadership method to use depending on the situation. For example, if there’s a new product or process launching, transformational or charismatic leadership may be used to get the team fired up and excited about the change. If those changes eventually spark problems and there’s pushback from the team, democratic leadership can be used to find out what the issues are and to ask for insight about how employees would improve the situation.
- Mindfulness in Communication
Great leaders want to come across in a certain way regardless of the mode of communication. That means that they’ll be aware of how they seem whether they’re speaking with someone in-person or sending a quick email or text, and will always strive to improve communication no matter how good it is. Different details have to be considered based on the medium. For example, when speaking with someone in person, you should be aware of what your body language conveys. When communicating across email, things like word choice and grammar will impact how professional you seem and whether or not you come off as rude or harsh.
While emotional intelligence requires understanding other points of view, that doesn’t mean that leaders have to be at the mercy of their employees. Excellent leaders still have to lead, which requires being assertive and firm at times. After considering other perspectives, leaders should have the confidence to make decisions that will meet as many needs as possible while still benefiting the company. They follow-through on their decisions and frame their choices in a way that’s clear and goal-oriented, even if some employees don’t ultimately agree with their choice.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are open to new ways of doing things. They know when to lend an ear and how to listen to employee feedback, and they also know how to provide negative feedback themselves without insulting their team. These leaders interact with their team in a way that drives growth and that allows everyone to be trusting of one another.
Written by: Indiana Lee, BOSS Contributor