How important is it for leaders to have emotional intelligence (EQ)? In essence, EQ is an awareness and sensitivity to others’ emotions. Beyond that, emotional intelligence refers to an ability to self-regulate your own emotions, be compassionate of others’ feelings, and exhibit good interpersonal skills. Researchers have found that emotional skills are especially valuable for leaders. Being able to read people’s emotions and react appropriately can serve leaders well in any business. A recent study done by Chris Mott, a University of Florida doctoral student, evaluated the emotional intelligence of leaders along with connections to diet and exercise. He concluded that leaders with healthier lifestyles also had higher emotional intelligence.
Leadership for many doesn’t come naturally, but the good news is that these skills can be learned. We can develop emotional intelligence skills to better understand, empathize, and influence other people. Leaders sometimes ignore subtle cues and signals from others or even themselves that can help them negotiate, manage conflict, and react constructively. Learning people skills is even more important today since many rely on technical knowledge exclusively to communicate. As John Maxwell points out: “people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Good leaders help people identify their strengths and position them accordingly. Discerning others’ needs to bolster their abilities is part of being an emotionally intelligent leader. Effective leaders create an environment of collaboration and cooperation.
An essential skill for a leader is the ability to listen. Unfortunately, many leaders focus more on speaking than listening and never learn how to motivate and inspire their team. Active listening requires patience, thoughtful reflection, attentiveness, and empathy. The ability to positively influence another’s life and grow a person through your actions and words is an important accomplishment. Great leaders mentor and cultivate budding leaders with similar work values, integrity, and skills. Leaders build relationships as they help others find their purpose in their career.