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3 Leadership Qualities that Improve Emotional Intelligence

What do all successful leaders have in common? According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, it’s emotional intelligence. By developing a deep understanding of those around you, knowing why they react the way they do, and gauging your own emotional responses, you are better able to rally your people together to work towards a common goal.

However, there are some competencies associated with emotional intelligence that get emphasized more than others. In an article I read recently, there are actually 12 elements of Emotional Intelligence that fall into one of four domains: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Often times, the “feel-good” elements are pinpointed most in leaders that are perceived to be emotionally intelligent. These usually include a positive outlook, empathy, and an inspirational leadership style. While these competencies are important, they are not the only ones that make a leader emotionally intelligent.

The way a leader manages conflict, acts as a coach, and practices adaptability are all competencies associated with high emotional intelligence that do not get as much recognition. Here are the ways you can demonstrate high EI in competencies that often get swept under the rug:

Mind the Way You Manage Conflict

In a study exploring the relationship between conflict, emotional intelligence, and performance, it was found that teams with lower levels of emotional intelligence were more likely to adopt avoidance and dominance conflict resolution patterns. This was compared to teams with higher levels of emotional intelligence who were more likely to adopt collaborative conflict resolution patterns. So, what does this mean for leaders managing conflict?

Emotionally intelligent leaders manage conflict by first acknowledging its existence, understanding each team member’s point of view, keeping communication about solutions open, and helping all parties understand each other’s positions. By getting those involved in the conflict to participate in the solution process, better solutions are found and everyone walks away feeling heard.

Don’t Just Coach from the Sidelines

Valuable coaching relationships, like all relationships, are built on trust. Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t just bark orders from the sidelines, they are actively involved in building action plans, giving feedback, and providing constructive criticism when needed. This requires leaders to make communication a priority, celebrate successes, and develop a deep understanding of the goals and talents belonging to the people they’re coaching.

Practice Being Adaptable

It’s easy to fall into patterns and behavioral scripts that lead us to push away new and different ideas. These routine behaviors may maximize efficiency, but they also encourage us to become fairly rigid in problem-solving. Fight these tendencies in yourself and in your team by working to foster a culture of creativity.

Emotionally intelligent leaders maintain stronger relationships with their employees, help to generate trust in their organizations, and are able to resolve conflicts more effectively. For more leadership best practices, check out our blog!

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