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High EQ: The most desirable leadership tenet of them all?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. And, in many organisations around the world, it is on the rise! Contrary to popular belief, The Millennials, Generation Y and Gen Next (those engrossed by tablets and screens) hold, on average, higher EQ levels than generations before them. In the business environment, researchers discovered that average EQ scores increase the higher in an organisation a person is, up to middle-management.

CEO’s with high emotional intelligence scores are, on average, found to hold their role significantly longer than their low EQ counterparts.

Surprisingly, EQ levels drop sharply when you go above middle-management and what is more surprising, CEO’s, typically have lower EQ scores than the lowest ranked employees.

Trends suggest increasing CEO pay, a lack of emotionally connecting with employees and even embezzlement are significant factors in these results.

With the demand for high EQ leaders increasing, what should future leaders consider when in pursuit of developing the most desirable leadership tenet of them all? Below, I have taken from Daniel Goleman, an American Psychologist, five elements which define EQ. However, first, I would like to explain some of the benefits of developing high EQ:

  • Improved decision-making and actions
  • Controlled emotions
  • Better communication
  • Reduced anxiety and stress levels
  • Ability to defuse conflicts and arguments
  • Stronger relationships
  • Success in managing difficult life challenges

On to those elements which define EQ:

1. Self-awareness

Leaders with high EQ understand their emotions, and they do not let their feelings rule them. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they work on these areas so they can perform better.

What to work on to improve self-awareness:

  • Understanding emotions
  • Know strengths and weaknesses
  • Accurately predict behaviour
  • Don’t allow feelings to dominate rational mind/thinking
  • Balance emotional and rational mind

2. Self-regulation/management

Self-regulation or self-management is the ability to control emotions and impulses. Leaders who self-regulate typically don’t allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they do not make impulsive and careless decisions. They think before they act.

What to consider to improve self-management:

  • Exercise self-control and self-regulation
  • Use emotions to generate passion and love
  • Think of emotion as fuel and reason as the wheel in a car
  • Control emotions through reason
  • Direct emotions to create a better life for you and others

3. Motivation

Leaders with a high EQ are willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. They are highly productive, enjoy a challenge, and are effective in whatever they do.

What to strive for when improving motivation:

  • Be self-motivated to perform and accomplish tasks
  • Use feelings to develop intuition which will help speed up and improve your decision-making
  • Use emotions at the right time, in the right way with the right quality to achieve best results
  • Positive emotions create passion and motivation in life

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you. Empathetic leaders avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in an open, honest way.

Here are some highlights of leaders who exercise a high empathy characteristic:

  • They show an ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of other people
  • They understand the emotions of other to build stronger relationships
  • They listen, are non-judgemental and compassionate as they build empathy

5. Social skills

Leaders with strong social skills are more often team players. Rather than focusing on their success, they help others to develop and shine. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.

Building on your social skills is a critical component in the makeup of a high EQ score, here is what to consider:

  • Love interacting with people who are happy and spread happiness
  • By better understanding others emotions, you develop excellent social skills
  • Show a genuine likeness and interest in others, and it will be reciprocated by the happy and interesting people you want to surround yourself with
  • Believe in the sum of the whole over the individual part
  • Understand your feelings, communicate them well, and strive to understand behaviours of others accurately
  • Make an effort to keep those relationships which you genuinely want and need

How to develop EQ

So what methodologies can we exercise to develop EQ? Well, you must start by being human. Don’t lock yourself away or become disconnected from others. Find ways to enjoy being around people you work with including those in lower ranking positions. Treat people with equality no matter what and try to consider things from the other person perspective. Look beyond people prejudices and develop emotional attachments and where appropriate share your emotions and welcome others emotions.

Voltaire once said, to understand all is to forgive all!

Limiting negative emotions is essential. Consider your flaws and others POV and seek out the positives in others. Understanding people as they are is also key. There are roughly 7 billion people on the planet, and no one is the same – understand yourself and learn to appreciate others will have different views and opinions.

Dale Carnegie wrote in How to win friends and influence people – “Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Developing a high EQ requires you to limit stress and maintain calm. Stressful situations occur, limit them by being calm and rational in your thinking and planning. It is essential to prevent building up stress, manage stress as soon as possible, tackle problems head-on and as early as you possibly can. Try to expect the unexpected or at least in every process consider what if – you actually canmanage everyone’s expectations, even if you cannot satisfy them. Approach stresses with courage and determination.

Expressing emotions will help you to build your EQ. An unexpressed emotion can become toxic and harmful; it is important to vent if you must, but vent correctly and with control. Learn to express your opinion in a way which others will understand and appreciate – you can improve this by asking people for feedback. Emotionally connecting with people and developing deeper bonds will significantly help you in the pursuit of a higher EQ.

Be and think positively. You have the power to consider things from a positive or negative perspective. Everyone has good and bad days, focusing on negative thoughts will expose you to depression and anxiety. By focusing on positive things, you encourage happiness and satisfaction.

You never fail, you learn. Failure is apart of life, dwelling on failure is like focusing on negative thoughts – if you do it too long, it can become toxic. Don’t let it disturb you for too long. Learn your lessons from failure and move on. Next time you will win.

Dream! Hope for the best in life but know you must do everything you can to achieve it. Accept that there will be disappointments along the road but continue to believe in what you hope and dream for.

Your thoughts, comments, likes and shares are always welcome. If you would like more insights on leadership tenets, how we at N2Growth observe and assess them and create an advantage for our clients, please feel free to reach out.

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