It’s safe to say that the pandemic has brought about changes to the workforce and how we work. Some of these changes are likely to stick and transform what we accept as norms when it comes to employment. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is at the forefront of what we will need and expect from our leaders.
According to Oxford Languages, EQ is “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” And in Harvard Business School’s opinion, it’s what allows for success in coaching teams, managing stress, delivering feedback and collaborating with others.
The pandemic required leaders to employ empathy in understanding each member of their team’s unique situation. Numerous studies have proved that emotional self-awareness and self-control are what separate outstanding leaders from average ones. In order to keep your team functioning at its best, it’s crucial that you continue to show that same compassion and comprehension.
Here are four crucial aspects of practicing emotional intelligence as a leader.
- Self-Awareness. The first step to properly relaying emotional intelligence within the workplace is to honestly evaluate yourself and the culture you have created. Doing this takes genuine self-reflection, and you may even want to take an EQ test. The Global Leadership Foundation and UC Berkeley’s “Greater Good Magazine” provide free tests to help individuals get an accurate picture of their EQ and where they can improve. Once you have a general idea of where you stand, you’ll be able to move forward with growing your capacity for EQ.
- Self-Management. After you have a steady grip on where you need to develop, it’s important to pinpoint the negative behaviors or tendencies that you would like to eliminate from your interactions in the workplace. This way, when you encounter stressful situations or conflicts, you will be able to respond in a calm and level-headed manner. To do this, you will need to keep yourself accountable. Keep a journal or jot down daily reminders for yourself. Don’t be afraid to take a step back from a situation to cool down, think, or even come back to it later when you know you can give a better response.
- Social Awareness. To be effective in your leadership, you need to be able to read the room. Being able to pick up on unspoken cues will guide you in effective and compassionate interactions with your employees. When you can respond appropriately, your team will feel increasingly comfortable in their work environment. Allowing your team members the freedom to express themselves will encourage them to open up more often. A healthy level of trust between a leader and his or her team can make or break the success of an organization.
- Relationship Management. Once you gain your team’s trust, it’s important for you to maintain it. Make sure you’re checking on each member of your team regularly. Show interest beyond work-related projects by asking them about their home life or how they’re feeling.
Even though these questions may feel uncomfortable at first, it will show your employees that you care about them and their well-being beyond their work.
A survey from CareerBuilder found that employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively and respond to fellow coworkers with empathy. At the end of the day, a lack of emotional intelligence can be detrimental to your team and the flourishing of your organization as a whole.
If you can be an effective example of emotional intelligence for your team, they can employ that same understanding to each other, resulting in a much happier, more productive work environment.