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SkillsTalk

Why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) matters in the workplace

By Katie Quirk | 26 October 2020


Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the ground-breaking book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence once remarked that “leadership is not domination. It’s the art of persuading people to work towards a common goal.” 

I know when I think of the bosses and managers I’ve had over the years, the ones who stick out in my mind aren’t the ones who ruled with an iron fist or thought themselves to be the smartest in the room. 

They weren’t the ones who were authoritarian in their management approach or those who constructed a hierarchy that constantly reminded us of where we sat in the pecking order.

In my experience, the leaders who have had the most profound impact on my professional development and career aspirations have been those who were able to connect with my colleagues and me in a way that went beyond textbook smarts and job descriptions.

Rather, they have been those who have successfully developed and demonstrated high functioning Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the workplace; an ability to nurture confidence and connection that we were people first, employees second.

Surprisingly, the importance of Emotional Intelligence in management positions has been largely underrated in bygone eras but there is more and more evidence that having a higher EQ can vastly benefit those working in leadership roles; and not just to get the best out of themselves, but their charges as well.

Why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is important for success

team collaboration concept

The term “Emotional Intelligence” is a relatively new one, only coined by psychologists as a “thing” in the 1990s. Prior to that, it was a widely held belief that emotion and intelligence were mutually exclusive traits and even considered to be in complete opposition to each other. 

However, over the past 20 years, researchers have indicated that employees who measured higher EQ scores on psychologically developed assessments tended to be rated higher on measures of traits like interpersonal functioning, leadership abilities and stress management.

Representing the intersection of cognitive processes and the ability to regulate emotions like sadness, fear, anger and happiness, Emotional Intelligence can immensely improve how well you interact with others and your chances of creating a more productive environment that’s conducive to achieving greater success.

Why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) matters in the workplace

According to the Harvard Business Review, for a leader to be truly effective they must be able to master relationship management in a positive way. 

The five key elements to Emotional Intelligence, as categorised by Goleman, are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Above all things, people want to feel valued, supported and understood – no one likes to be talked down to, disregarded or treated as a subordinate (even if they are more junior or less experienced than other colleagues).

Leaders with higher levels of emotional intelligence demonstrate strong communication skills, an ability to harness a more holistic approach to management and an increased capacity to problem-solve as well as demonstrating the level of interpersonal skills required to establish more genuine relationships.

Which is why it’s not hard to understand why successful workplaces are generally made up of individuals who display increased empathy, consideration and rational thought towards each other and the tasks at hand.

At the end of the day, teamwork makes the dream work and the old school “do as I say, not as I do” leadership mentality rarely results in colleague cohesiveness and overall job satisfaction.

How to become more emotionally intelligent

teamwork concept

It might seem an overwhelming thought, but it is more than possible to achieve greater Emotional Intelligence that can help benefit your professional (and personal) relationships and support your leadership ambitions.

While emotional skills do come more naturally to some people (factors such as upbringing and personality tend to play a large role in developing the foundations of emotional intelligence), there are various things anyone can do to help improve their understanding of emotions.

For example:
  • Pay attention to how you are feeling and how those emotions influence your response to people
  • Take stock of emotional strengths and weaknesses
  • Find techniques to reduce and release workplace stress (exercising, hobbies, yoga, meditation etc.)
  • Listen to what others have to say
  • Pay attention to nonverbal communication (actions can speak louder than words)
See things from another person’s point of view and pay attention to how you respond to others

Upskilled also offers various courses that can help further your leadership and management skills.

From BSB51918 - Diploma of Leadership and Management to BSB42015 - Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, contact one of their education consultants on 1300 009 924 for more information about study pathways to support your professional journey.
 
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