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Emotional Intelligence - Why Your Next Leader Should Have It

Emotional Intelligence - Why Your Next Leader Should Have It

There has been much written on emotional intelligence (EI) and its impact upon a professional's ability to lead an organization, business unit or department. With the recession posing various challenges on entities within all business sectors, EI is now, more than ever, a desirable (and necessary) trait in leaders.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

EI is one's capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to assess and generate emotions to assist one's thoughts, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge and to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth. In the professional world, it is the general assessment of a person's abilities to control emotions, to sense, understand and react to others' emotions and to manage relationships accordingly.

Most importantly, EI provides a way to understand and assess people's behaviors, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills and potential. While there is no question that technical skills and competency are necessary assets for any leader, it is his/her personal intellectual skills that determine how successful he/she will or can be.

What are the characteristics of high EI leaders?

  • Decisive.

  • Self-motivated.

  • Lead by example.

  • Accept criticism well.

  • Emotionally resilient.

  • Resolve conflict effectively.

  • Remain calm under pressure.

  • Independent and self-reliant.

  • Empathetic to team members.

  • Optimistic and positive attitude.

  • Strong ability to read non-verbal communication.

  • Recognize and understand others' emotions and perspectives.

What makes professionals with these characteristics good leaders?

  • They make thoughtful business decisions.

  • They are even-keeled and don't react emotionally to challenges.

  • They understand how to effectively handle difficult or highly-emotional situations.

  • They adapt quickly to market changes and are innovative in developing new solutions.

  • They practice "participative management" and are adept at getting people to "buy-in" to initiatives and goals.

  • They put others at ease and make people feel comfortable in expressing their opinions and concerns.

  • They understand how to build relationships - with subordinates, with superiors, with customers and with teams.

  • They practice honest and open communication and are assertive with expressing their feelings and thoughts in a non-destructive manner.

  • They have high levels of self-awareness. They realize their capabilities and strengths, where they need to improve and how to build a team that balances them out.

  • They listen to others and gather their input before implementing major changes. They build strong relationships by understanding other people's emotions as well as their own.

After reviewing the above, it's not surprising that most successful leaders have high EI and why, when you're searching for your next leader for your organization or team, you need to carefully consider these characteristics in potential candidates.