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Emotional intelligence is every leader’s secret weapon; here’s why

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Management today is complex. Far from the output-focused role it once was, today’s managers are expected to be everything to their teams: career guides, mentors, support systems… the list goes on. The shift is best defined as a move from management to leadership; rather than dictating tasks and giving orders, the expectation is to develop teams aligned to a cause, who perform because they are bought into their leaders.

Striking the balance between pastoral care and goal attainment is tricky, especially for new managers who may not have much business experience themselves. Developing high levels of emotional intelligence is one way managers can navigate the delicate balance, understanding when to shift their approach from supportive to outcome focused.

Emotional intelligence, commonly referred to as EQ (Emotional Quotient. Think: IQ, but for empathy) comes naturally for some, but for others, it can be more of a challenge. The good news is that EQ can be developed in everybody, whatever their starting point.

Why is emotional intelligence so important?

First, let’s take a look at how EQ presents in a business context. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions in a constructive and adaptive way. It can be categorized into five main components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

All of these characteristics show up in strong leadership. Without these attributes, managers are unable to understand and manage their own emotions, or empathize with the feelings of their team members. 

How can I increase my managers’ emotional intelligence?

Whether they have high emotional intelligence, or there’s work to be done, here are a few ways managers can enhance their EQ, whatever their starting point:

Reflection: Regular self-reflection helps managers become more self-aware and understand how their emotions drive their behavior.

Feedback: Encourage open and honest feedback from peers and team members. This can help managers understand how their actions affect others. Feedback can be informal or more formal via tools such as 360 degree assessments.

Mindfulness: Practices like meditation can help managers stay focused and aware of their emotional state.

Coaching: Providing ongoing coaching to your managers is the most impactful way you can support their EQ journey. Coaching is proven to help increase self-awareness, resilience, and motivation.

How do I know it’s working?

Strong leaders will always get better results, develop more engaged teams, and see far lower undesirable headcount churn than their peers.

Investing in a meaningful EQ initiative – like coaching with Sama – for all managers gives you access to real-time data that demonstrates the impact of coaching. Using retention data and employee surveys also demonstrates the benefits of strong, empathetic leadership on your business success. 

By investing in developing the emotional intelligence of your managers, you’ll enhance the effectiveness of your coaching efforts and create a more supportive, understanding, and productive work environment.

Emotional intelligence is just one component of developing empowering leaders. Find out more about developing managers to drive your business success in our complete guide. Get in touch to discuss your people strategy today.