Emotional Intelligence: How to perform at your best

Emotional Intelligence: How to perform at your best

Alicia Curtis
Written by: Alicia Curtis
@aliciacurtis
Alicia Curtis

Are you willing to challenge yourself to develop as a leader?

Most people are committed to developing their technical expertise to maximise potential (think about the years spent at university!) But do you put the same level of commitment into developing your skills to connect, communicate and empower other people as well?

Emotional intelligence is critical to exceptional leadership. It leads to better work performance, better leadership and more happiness in life. Who doesn’t want that?

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence has become a buzzword ever since Daniel Goleman wrote the book called Emotional Intelligence! But many people can have trouble actually describing what it is.

At its core, emotional intelligence is about monitoring and understanding your own and other’s feelings and emotions and using this knowledge to guide your thinking and actions.

A recent Australian report on leadership found that current leaders rated themselves as performing highest on their work ethic and track record of success. Only trouble is – what people really wanted from their leaders was team building and outstanding interpersonal and communication skills. And these were some of the skills that they performed most poorly at.

Eek!

Emotional intelligence is key to building strong teams and communicating with others. Here are five practical behaviours that emotionally intelligent leaders practice.

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5 EQ Behaviours

1. Building Self Awareness

I find leaders either really overrate their abilities or really underrate them. I know, that’s quite a spectrum.  On one side, people often don’t see the immense value they can offer. Yet on the other hand, others can self assess themselves as highly competent without any basis. One strategy to overcoming this phenomenon is seeking high quality feedback from others on your behaviour and performance. Blind spots are hard to overcome without the help of others.

2. Compassion and Respect

How you treat others is important. Do you listen to others? Or encourage equal participation rather than dominate discussions? Do you treat people as legitimate human beings with feelings? Do you care about your team?   

Dehumanising others in the workplace is an increasingly challenging issue. The more we move into positions of power and feel experienced at what we do, the more we can become more concerned about our own needs and less concerned about the needs of others. Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and respect. This is the essence of a good human being. Don’t underestimate it!

3.  Motivation and Self Management

Do you notice the feelings you are feeling? Awareness is the first step to managing them appropriately. But it’s amazing how many people can go from meeting to meeting in a bad mood without being aware of it or acknowledging it. Get good at identifying your feelings, honestly connecting the underlying cause of your feeling and taking action to correct it, if need be.

4. Vulnerability

Exceptional leaders acknowledge that they don’t know it all. This vulnerability allows them to connect at a deeper level with their team. Displaying an attitude of curiosity about team members’ points of view shows that everyone has something to contribute and everyone has something to learn from others.

5.  Maintaining Equanimity

Life is not going to go right 100% of the time. Failures happen, people get sick, projects go askew and as leaders – we need to keep our composure. A mindfulness meditation practice can support us to lead with equanimity. It helps us practice lengthening the time between what happens to us and how we react to it.

What’s important?

All in all, our emotional intelligence makes us better human beings. If you want to be the best leader you can be, let’s start with who you are and how you treat others.

Now over to you: how do you practice emotional intelligence as a leader? Do you have any experiences with leaders that particularly impressed you with their emotional intelligence? I’d love to hear!

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