If you think about your favorite leader or the best manager you’ve ever had, chances are, they understood and developed their emotional intelligence skills. They were probably a great listener, someone who didn’t get upset or enraged easily, and someone who always knew when you needed to talk or were having trouble with a task.
Emotional intelligence is, according to Psychology Today, “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” It is a soft skill expected of leaders and managers in the workplace and can help with personal growth and development as well. It has been proven to be an essential skill for those moving up in business organizations. Laura Wilcox from the Harvard Extension School reports that “emotional intelligence...accounts for nearly 90 percent of what moves people up the ladder when IQ and technical skills are roughly similar.”
Emotional intelligence is made up of three distinct abilities:
- Emotional awareness
- The ability to harness emotions and use them for critical thinking and problem solving
- The ability to manage and contain emotions and help to manage the emotions of others
Those who have mastered emotional intelligence tend to be great leaders and have ability to manage a team well, are good listeners, and are very aware of the emotions of those around them, making them trusted individuals.
Here’s how you can begin to build emotional intelligence and improve your leadership skills, according to the Harvard Business Review.
- Master self-awareness
- Practice self-reflection, meditation, and mindfulness
- Keep a journal
- Look for honest feedback from others
- Learn self-regulation
- Understand and catalog your emotions and feelings
- Find out what motivates your behavior and what makes you stressed or anxious and why
- Act on values rather than feelings
- Understand motivation
- Consider why you’re doing the things in your life (work, personal life, etc.) and if the reason isn’t healthy or inspiring to you, figure out how to make a change
- Learn the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how these can affect individuals
- Figure out how these types of motivators affect your team
- Discover how to be empathetic
- Put yourself in the person’s shoes who you are working with
- Try to keep your opinions and viewpoints separate
- Understand and validate the other person’s opinion
- Hone your social skills
- When attending work functions, practice conversation, listening, and building rapport
- Remain levelheaded and calm in stressful situations
- Be a friendly presence and remember to smile
If management is in your future or if you are working on bettering yourself and becoming more mindful, emotional intelligence is a key skill to master to become more self-aware. It can help in all aspects of your life from relationships to the workplace, and make it easier for you to relate to others and build trust. Using the skills listed above, you can improve and learn emotional intelligence and move up in your career.