Why emotional Intelligence is driving business forward!
Emotional intelligence is important as it lets you understand and manage emotions linked to academic achievement, decision-making abilities, and lifelong success
By widespread definition, emotional intelligence (EI) can be construed as the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. It’s an intersection of the head and the heart. Some researchers have suggested that it can be learned and improved on, while others claim it is something with which you are born.
The ability to express and control emotions is especially important, but so too is the ability to understand, interpret, and respond to other people’s emotions. Psychologists refer to this ability as emotional intelligence, and some experts even suggest that it can be more important than your actual IQ, as many think that EI can be a massive factor in developing a more successful life and career. As you progress in your career, you now need to add emotional intelligence to your technical skills.
In a recent webinar, hosted by Jennifer Bangoura, EdD, Nexford’s Director of Career Innovation, and Yemi Faseun, author and business leader with over 30 years of multisector, multifunction experience, and one of Nexford’s mentors in The Global Grid initiative, talked about the importance of emotional intelligence amongst workers today. Mr. Faseun also spoke about the outcomes of emotional intelligence that we see in today’s workplace.
Dr. Bangoura says, “At Nexford University we discuss emotional intelligence in our MBA programs and in our course, the art of communication. Our competency-based curriculum means we think it’s essential for our learners to put into practice what they learn – including understanding concepts like emotional intelligence and learning practical ways to implement them in the workplace.”
Much was on the webinar agenda, including how leaders with EI can positively affect business outcomes in organizations, as individuals are much better positioned to build meaningful relationships both with other employees and with potential customers/clients.
EI can help organisations be less toxic and productive
If we have more leaders with emotional intelligence in organizations, we are likely to see reduced toxicity in workplaces. One of the critical things likely to be evidenced within a team where there is a leader with high emotional intelligence is reduced staff turnover. They say if you want loyalty get a dog, so leaders must be empathetic to their employee’s needs or risk losing them to those who are. Sadly though in today’s world, top leaders with strong EI are in short supply.
One of the ways that EI can help everyone be more positive and productive towards their career and work-life, is to have leaders who lead with a good dose of emotional intelligence. It helps convert average workplaces to exceptional and happy workplaces by creating better outcomes for employees. Because of the emotional and mental after-effects of the pandemic, this is more of a hot topic than ever as we need empathetic leaders who are going to rise to the occasion and confront a problem head-on, leading with emotional intelligence.
Yemi Faseun would argue that it is not just EI that can drive sustainable change, but that it is a combination of EI and IQ. Managers need to be able to use their emotional intelligence to understand themselves and understand and manage their emotions. Only then can they take it a step further by understanding and finding ways to manage the emotions of other people around them.
“True leaders must not wait until they become managers before starting to build the skills around managing people. Soft skills of communication and soft skills of networking within the organization need to be learned, and quickly. But don’t forget that this is the start point.”
80% to 90% of competencies clearly differentiate top performance in the domain of emotional intelligence. That’s the reality. If you can work with other people very well, then you can foster individual and organizational success. Leaders need to ask themselves almost on a daily basis, “What am I about”? “What is my makeup”? “What triggers me”? Only then can they look outwardly as a leader and be conscious of the feelings of others and how your behavior can affect them. People will be able to relate and connect with you more if they see that you understand them, or where they’re coming from.
5 major characteristics of emotionally intelligent people
If you can work on your own, you can achieve success to some extent. But if you want to go further than what you can only achieve in terms of results for yourself, for the unit, and for the organization, it is obvious that you need to collaborate with other people and understand their emotional triggers. When we are in touch with ourselves and in touch with other people, then we can have better control of the outcomes of our words and actions.
1. Interpersonal skills
Every time leaders have an interaction with people, they need to leave value behind, leave them asking for more, and leave them wanting to have further interaction with them. They need to have an attitude that draws other people to them. This can be achieved by treating all as equals and each employee as an individual, rather than a collective. So, if you have three people on your team, you must understand how to manage each person individually and not have a standard rule for managing all three of them. We must strive towards being leaders that understand where each person is within the team and therefore be present in the moment.
Great leaders with emotional intelligence will go below the line and cover not just the doing part, but also who they are to employees. As a leader, they must ask, “Can I sell the vision you bought into me as an individual so that I can then sell the vision of the organization to you or the unit or the department?” They are empathetic, they are a source of motivation and inspiration. They will listen and concentrate on the values of the organization. Now values are not the things that we write on the walls of the organization or the website, they are the things that the leader models daily as a way of leading with emotional intelligence.
Self-awareness, or the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, is a critical emotional intelligence skill. Beyond just recognizing your emotions, it is about being aware of the effects of your actions, moods, and emotions on other people.
To become self-aware, you must be capable of monitoring your own emotions, recognizing different emotional reactions, and then correctly identifying each emotion. Self-aware individuals also recognize the relationships between the things they feel and how they behave.
These individuals also recognize their own strengths and limitations, are open to new information and experiences, and are able to learn from their interactions with others.
3. Stress management
We all get to that point where your body is telling you to take it easy. But how often do you listen to it? And how often do true leaders acknowledge the effects of stress on their employees, much less how they may be contributing to it? Young people cite mental health issues as the number one priority to retain their psychological and social contract with organizations. So, the question is, are leaders providing psychological safety for employees to the point where those employees can bring their total selves to work?
If you want to have increased leadership ability within the team itself, it starts with you as a leader, your level of emotional intelligence daily when dealing with the issues that are coming out of work, and things within the scope of work.
Your ability to deal with them with emotional intelligence would go a long way to decreasing occupational stress because there is joy and well-being within the team. This increases productivity as suddenly people want to do more and take on more responsibility.
Many would regard this skill as being one of the most critical pillars of emotional intelligence. However, it is not just about being able to recognize how others are feeling and what emotional state they may find themselves in at that time, it is also about how you interpret that stimulus and react to it.
Being empathetic will serve you well as a work leader because it allows you to get a handle on the dynamics that influence social relationships. This is important for guiding your interactions with different people you encounter each day.
Those competent in this area can sense who possesses power in different relationships. They also understand how these forces influence feelings and behaviors. Because of this, they can accurately interpret different situations that hinge on such power dynamics.
5. Political Intelligence
To start managing bigger teams like functions, or divisions, or the organization itself, you need to add political intelligence to your tool belt, because political naivete has been the death of many looking to climb the ladder of their career. Perfecting this skill means that you need to understand the interplay of politics, influence, and power in the organization.
Yemi Faseun maintains that you should not play corporate politics, as that can be very damaging. What he means is that as a leader, your level of organizational awareness must be extremely high. You must be able to sell ideas and projects to busy executives and be able to influence and convince them that what you are pitching is valuable and worth considering.
He says, “Don’t wait until you start putting your slides together and presenting in the boardroom, you have got to do something in the background, so that you can get employees to buy in. So, it’s IQ, it’s EQ, it’s PQ, and as you progress, it’s a combination of technical and soft skills for success.”
“But by the time we call you a manager, we expect a shift in the technical and soft skills, because we’ve assumed that you can do those things technically. So, your ability to manage people will be about 60 or 70%, and then your technical abilities will be about 30%. That is a shift. So yes, I totally believe that. Whilst we are not saying that you should be technically incompetent, what I am saying is that your soft skills will give you more success as you climb the corporate ladder.”
Everyone wants to lead, but many fail
Let’s face it, everybody wants to be a Manager, Senior Manager, or Executive Director because the financial benefits can be off the charts. But of course, not all can successfully embark on that journey.
Gauge your level of connectedness with your team against vital soft skills required to run a team. It is the quality that matters. Great leaders first buy hearts, and then they can sell the vision. This is because the connection is primarily with the hearts of the people you need. If you’re just doing a hard sell of the vision, you’re not likely to see much of a buy-in. Always consider that leadership is a privilege, not a right.
Think of it as a journey where you are using a satellite navigation system to take you in the right direction. What happens when it takes you to a place nowhere near your actual destination or it forces you to take a wrong turn, what do you do? You shout at it rather than taking a deep breath and redirecting it to the right place.
That’s what great leaders with emotional intelligence do. They redirect towards the purpose, towards the direction of a team or the unit of the function. We all have that image of the kind of leader that we’re looking for in organizations, countries, or companies. But that chain, that journey starts with us. It starts with the individual and a mastery of soft skills necessary to more than get the job done.
Remember, you can’t change the temperature in the street, but you can change the temperature in the room. Let your influence be within the team that you lead and not across the entire business.
How valuable is an MBA when it comes to learning soft skills?
The clue is in the name. It’s massively important, as an MBA prepares you for the real world of work. From a leadership perspective, it’s an all-around thing. It touches every area: operations management, human resources, and accounting.
An MBA is a very necessary degree as it produces individuals that are ready to start leading themselves first, then teams, departments, and even one day, the organization. So, it is clearly a route to individuals becoming great leaders in organizations.
Mr. Faseun maintains that it’s something he would recommend for leaders who have not been made ready for leadership positions, but they found themselves there, or would-be leaders and individuals who are getting themselves ready for leadership positions.
It’s all about lifelong learning. We can’t stagnate and have that one job and not expect to continue needing to grow. You need to continue to keep sharpening your axe. Adapt or die. A Nexford MBA can ensure that you are always relevant and employable.
About the Author
Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.