Here’s the thing; technicians are great when it comes to machines, leaders are great on matters of people. As a leader in your business, at the workplace, and even at home, you need to be emotionally intelligent so that you can find an easier time understanding and getting along with people. Success quickly follows those who get along with people because team members will willingly follow you and help you to attain your objectives.
So, what is emotional intelligence and how can one develop it? Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and those of others, and also manage your own and others’ emotions. For example, an emotionally intelligent person will recognize the root cause of their anger and think through a logical way in which to address that root cause instead of lashing out at anyone who crosses their path.
There are several things that you can do to increase your EQ score and get along with people in a way that benefits all concerned. We highlight some of them below.
Empathy is an important attribute of emotionally intelligent people. It is key to tapping into how and why others are feeling the way they do. Empathy is about putting oneself in the shoes of another person.
For example, when an employee calls in to say they won’t be coming to work because they have a child that is sick, an emotionally intelligent leader will imagine what it means to have a sick child and they will give the employee a day off.
However, a leader without emotional intelligence could immediately rant about an overdue report, how this particular employee is always calling in sick, and so on. Who of these two leaders will have a more committed employee at the end of the day?
Empathy is vital to getting along with people, and leaders who would like to achieve great things must cultivate this attribute.
Another trick used by emotionally intelligent leaders is exhibiting curiosity at every opportunity. You see, people are moved when someone shows interest in them, and what better way to show interest than to always be curious?
Ask how a project is going. Find out what specific challenges a new hire is going through as they get integrated into the team. Find out how the families of your team are faring. Take note of a change in the behavior of an employee and inquire what the matter is. Find out how a team member managed to solve a particularly difficult problem the company was having.
All these are manifestations of curiosity. Always have questions to ask, and listen actively as people respond. Otherwise, going through the motions of being curious will be a put off and people will withdraw emotionally.
When exercised regularly, curiosity can take you far because you get to interact at a more meaningful level with those around you and you learn a lot (about each team member, about different technical things outside your training, what motivates different people, and so on).
A leader is a lifelong learner, and emotionally intelligent leaders use curiosity to keep learning at every opportunity.
Stop Being Judgmental
Remember what we said about being empathetic? Judgmental people never find an easy time getting along with people because they are quick to blame or find fault with everything. As a result, people avoid them and aren’t inspired to follow them.
Put yourself in other people’s shoes and avoid rushing to conclusions. Let logic or reason be your guide in everything you say or do. This isn’t to say that you let your team get away with being sloppy or messing up things all the time. Rather, control your emotions and handle things logically.
Human beings are emotional creatures, and it is easy to be carried away by our emotions when things aren’t going the way we want them to. However, emotionally intelligent people train themselves to be patient and avoid reacting emotionally to situations.
Those few seconds you take to breathe in deeply can mean the difference between making a bad situation a lot worse, or coming up with a calm response that moves the team forward towards resolving the problem.
A certain African tribe I lived in encourages women to imagine that their mouth is full of water when their husband is angry about something that hasn’t gone well at home. This imaginary water in the mouth is intended to prevent the woman from answering back angrily (thereby worsening the situation). Those precious few moments of silence can diffuse a tense atmosphere and restore calm.
In the same way, emotionally intelligent people exercise patience and do everything in their power to avoid reacting emotionally. In this way, they not only harness their own emotions but also those of the people they lead for the good of the shared goals.
As you take steps to improve your emotional intelligence, learn how to be vulnerable before the people you lead. For example, during the worst time of the pandemic, emotionally intelligent leaders shared how they were struggling to cope with having a family member hospitalized due to contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Such sharing helps you to connect deeply with those around you because they see your human side outside the position you hold at the workplace. It is through such connections that loyalty grows and commitment to a common cause spreads. Don’t fall for the macho hype which says leaders aren’t supposed to show any weakness or share any struggles they are having. But, don’t be a crybaby in your attempt to show vulnerability!
Be Around High EQ People
As you may know, we are each the average of the five or so people we spend the most time with. It is therefore vital that you surround yourself with people who exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence so that you too can improve your own EQ as you learn from those around you.
In the same vein, reading a book, attending a class, listening to a podcast or audiobook on how to enhance your emotional intelligence can also help you improve in this area. So can getting a coach to work with you on this matter, especially if you are in top management where emotional intelligence is vital to your success.
As your EQ improves, you will notice that getting along with people socially and professionally becomes easier and the trajectory of your progress will improve a great deal. Isn’t that a worthy goal to pursue?
To Your Success,