While professional and technical competence are essential for workplace success, emotional intelligence is frequently cited as a better predictor of success.
A study by TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence, along with 33 other workplace skills, and found emotional intelligence to be the strongest predictor of performance. The results of the study demonstrate that 58% of success in all types of jobs stems not from professional or technical competencies, but from emotional intelligence.
Why is emotional intelligence so essential to workplace success?
Folks who are aware of their own emotional intelligence are better able to manage their emotions, such as stress and impulse control. This is critical in workplaces full of complex and rapid change, where decisions can’t always be made with certainty. People with emotional intelligence are better able to recognize the emotions of others and display empathy.
Whether you’re a C-Suite leader of a major enterprise, or a high-potential employee trying to cultivate high-value leadership skills, emotional intelligence and leadership capabilities go hand-in-hand.
You can focus on leveling-up your leadership capabilities with these eight helpful tips:
1. Align Yourself with Your Unique Leadership Style
The first step to becoming a successful, future-forward leader is to align yourself with your leadership style. It’s difficult to become the best version of yourself when you’re busy trying to mimic the leadership styles of a colleague or mentor. Take time to lean into what feels good, to recognize your individual strengths, and to develop your own natural professional tendencies to amplify your personal leadership style. (By the way, if you’re not sure what your leadership style is, the folks at Padraig help leaders understand their personal leadership style.)
2. Lead By Example
As a leader, you know which professional and personal traits make an ideal employee: They’re passionate, motivated, enthusiastic, and personable. However, to attract these types of people and reduce employee turnover, it’s up to the leadership team to also encompass these key traits.
When you’re working side-by-side with your peers and employees, make sure that you’re demonstrating the skills that you want to see reflected in others. This can be done simply by positively engaging daily with your team members, giving them recognition when deserved, and sharing your passion for your organization and what you can accomplish together.
3. Practice Mindful Leadership
Your mental health and that of your employees is vital to a successful organization. Leaders who can prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of all team members help cultivate an understanding and compassionate environment that drives success and increases engagement.
In a survey from Mental Health America, 35% of respondents reported that they miss three to five days of work each month due to workplace stress. When you take the time to practice mindful leadership by emphasizing the importance of mental health, you’re not only enhancing your success, but that of those you lead.
Not quite sure about this idea of mindfulness? Check out the Padraig blog Mind FULL or Mindful for ways you can be more present – and see the impact of mindfulness at work!
4. Cultivate Empathy and Compassion
Empathy is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” When leaders are able to utilize their emotional intelligence and develop empathic skills to understand their colleagues and team members, they can create meaningful professional relationships that provide a win-win for both parties.
The more a leader can relate to the decisions made by their employees, the better they can change their own actions to create high-value change.
5. Focus on Leadership as a Skill
Leadership isn’t simply one aspect of a job, it comprises a set of many skills that can be developed through effective emotional intelligence training and development.
Take the time to invest in leadership development exercises: Find books and courses dedicated to honing your leadership skills and watch your leadership capabilities increase.
6. Build Your Social Skills
When a leader is focused entirely on personal wellbeing and livelihood, they cannot connect with their team members on a level necessary to drive positive change in the workplace.
By building your emotional intelligence you will naturally increase your social skills, and with that you can better communicate with others while propelling your organization in a positive direction.
7. Self-Regulate for Positive Professional Development
Self-regulation is a powerful emotional intelligence tool for enhancing leadership capabilities. When you can redirect disruptive emotions and adapt to change easily, you can change your perspective and make level-headed decisions during stressful situations.
I recall one of my clients was faced with the difficult challenge of firing several long-term, dedicated staff due to unexpected budget cuts. To make it more difficult, he professionally disagreed with the decision, which put him in a very negative space.
To help him redirect his emotions, I asked him, “What do you value from others in a difficult conversation”? He responded, “integrity, respect, and empathy.” Later he shared that it was in that moment that he voiced his values, where he realized he could remain true to them in the delivery of this task. He opened up emotionally, listened, and collaborated with his staff throughout the process. He has helped many of them move on to their next career and maintained many of those relationships.
8. Set Goals and Reflect on Them Regularly
Goals don’t necessarily have to be about breaking personal records or receiving a promotion. Sometimes, goals can simply focus on the outcomes of exciting changes that you want to make in how you perform as a leader. Goals allow you to find a new purpose, change your outlook, and redirect feelings of negativity.
There’s no better time than now to consider the professional goals you want to achieve this year to become a better leader. By enhancing your leadership capabilities through training, you can drive valuable change not only in your own life, but throughout your organization.
What steps are you going to take to increase your emotional intelligence? What’s holding you back from emotional intelligence workshops for you and your team? What are you reading to help you increase your own emotional intelligence?
Janice Gair, PCC, CPHR is the co-founder of EI Advantage, which is dedicated to helping leaders and teams explore their emotional intelligence and level-up their leadership skills.