Emotional Intelligence and Leadership – A Winning Combination

emotional intelligence entrepreneurs entrepreneurship leadershipThis month’s chapter from “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle” is Chapter 5, Human Resources, which can be a very misunderstood topic. Much like you would discuss and evaluate operational resources, financial resources, or manufacturing, the care and feeding of human resources is by far the most critical. Without people, most businesses would not be able to function. So when we talk about HR or Human Resources, we mean all that is related to your employees’ well-being, satisfaction, development, benefits and overall general upkeep. In the free download of Chapter 5 this month you’ll get the basics of an Employee Handbook and some general guidance as to what HR should look and feel like.

However, rather than discuss HR policies here, I thought I would talk about a topic that ultimately has everything to do with your employees’ well-being and satisfaction and that is your emotional intelligence skills as a leader. This month’s Harvard Business Review OnPoint Summer 2014 edition has an excellent section written by Daniel Goleman, renowned author of Primal Leadership and several other books about emotional intelligence, (often referred to as “EQ”). The premise of the article is that after extensive research, his team has concluded that EQ does in fact matter in a leader. The higher a leader’s “EQ,” the better results the company will have. The more self-aware, motivated, self-regulated, empathetic, and social skills the leader exhibits, the better the team performs.

The really good news is that you can increase your EQ with practice and good leaders are always looking for ways to improve. Try starting with the self-awareness piece. To develop self-awareness it’s important to pause, reflect and just notice. How did that meeting go? What effect did your comments have on the team? Did it enhance or hurt potential performance? High potential employees are looking for a leader who is very strong in all aspects of EQ. The ability to question one’s performance and really self-reflect is the first step towards improvement.

The ability to “listen newly” is another way to improve EQ. It means to really engage using active listening, vs. just waiting to talk. It shows that you truly care and are interested in the people who work for you. If you are a good listener you will learn things about your organization and employees you did not know. Most can tell when you are faking it, so don’t even bother. Employees are much smarter that you think and the fake expression of emotion is the proverbial “turd in the punchbowl.” Everyone talks about it, but no one will bother to fish it out. Motivating employees starts with being honest, even when it’s bad news. They will follow you if you understand how they feel.

Another effective tactic Goleman recommends is to take a break. Take a vacation and practice observing other people. When you are not in charge of the situation what happens? How do you respond? Does it make you more empathetic? Did you observe how people interacted? When you return from the trip, make sure you have something in place, such as a coach, to help you change behaviors and reinforce them so they become habit.

Bottom line, if you aren’t getting the results you want with your team start by looking in the mirror and objectively assessing your EQ. You can improve and as you do, so will your results.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence and Leadership – A Winning Combination”

  1. Mary, another great piece. Do you have any suggestion as to how to develop EQ in your employees? We work in the trades and often times ego and often “he who yells loudest gets what he wants” on a job site. During interviews we do our best to ask the right questions to prevent hiring that personality type, but sometimes you get someone along that spectrum. Heck, all of us are somewhere along that spectrum and could use a little help to get better.

  2. I would suggest that you take just one of the 5 areas I mention and sit down with the employee and ask them how they would rank themselves on it. Self Awareness, for instance. Then, explain the situation that happened where it did not show up, ask how you can help. If they don’t know, give a few suggestions, offer to point out when they may not be acting in accordance with how they told you they want to be perceived. The other avenue might be to simply have them read about it and see if the self identify with any of the areas needing improvement.

    Good luck!

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