In our ‘top tips’ we’ve mentioned the advantage emotionally intelligent leaders have through a greater understanding of themselves. Not only do individuals with high emotional intelligence have a finely tuned sense of self-awareness, they’re also great at ‘getting’ other people and understanding how and why they do the things they do. They recognise their own strengths and weaknesses and can identify those of their team, individually and collectively. They know what drives their team; what ‘floats their boat’ and what ‘gets their goat’. Leaders with high emotional intelligence know the impact they have on others, and that this is different for each person.
A really self-aware leader also knows when they’re being the very best they can be and when they’re falling short. They understand their own preferred approach but can flex that in different situations and for different people, depending entirely on individuals and circumstances. They’re prepared to reflect and learn when interactions don’t go as well as they might, equally they’re comfortable acknowledging the strengths that were at play when they’ve handled something supremely well. People led by emotionally intelligent leaders feel positive about interactions with their ‘boss’, regardless of whether that’s during discussions about things that have gone well or not so well.
Leaders who have a superb sense of awareness of others understand how to get the very best from people, and are able to build high performing teams who trust and support each other. They spot and address it if one member of their team is niggling another. They handle conflict with skill, and show empathy with all as they find resolutions. They know when people need support and when they need space, and how to bolster their confidence and capabilities. An emotionally intelligent leader doesn’t feel the need to highlight their own successes but will actively celebrate those of their team.
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be improved, and is a very useful area of self-development that a leader, or someone aspiring to be one, can work on. Reading, feedback from others, course-based learning and one-to-one coaching are all great ways to develop emotional intelligence; as is simply taking time to step back from the day-to-day, to reflect on how things are going and what alternative ways of thinking, feeling and acting are available.