Cultivating emotional intelligence

Read Time: 5 minutes

Bobby Rae

Bobby Rae

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Cleo Davis

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. American professor Brené Brown once described it as “not about being nice all the time. It’s about being honest.” 

So why is this important for business leaders? Well, it’s no great revelation that happy workers are more productive and if leaders can provide a pleasant atmosphere then they can get more from their team. Emotional intelligence help to cultivate this, so let’s find out how.

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Why is emotional intelligence important for leaders? 

If we take the analogy of a bridge, emotional intelligence or EI is the keystone that connects all the traits of a good leader. It’s essential for them to create a productive, positive and supportive work environment. 

Leaders with high EI have excellent communication skills and can inspire and motivate their teams to reach their goals. A major part of that is empathy and self-awareness.

Active listening is crucial in being able to provide empathy. It allows managers to understand their teams' feelings, concerns and ideas. Also important is emotional regulation - the ability to manage your emotions effectively. That’s not letting situations get the better of you and remaining calm under pressure. This is particularly important when you need to have difficult conversations because honesty is far more important than worrying if your team will still like you. 

By improving your EI, you can enhance your interpersonal skills, build stronger relationships with your team and create a supportive, positive work environment.

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And don’t forget to communicate

Working on building your empathy and self-awareness skills are going to help you become a good leader, but nailing how you communicate will make you a great one. 

Be sure to regularly check in with your team, as well as provide and ask for feedback. 

Operate with an “open door” policy letting anyone on your team grab some time with you for a chat (setting up a Booking Page is a great way to do this).

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How to develop self-awareness and relationships

Developing your emotional intelligence is no easy thing. However, there are some things you can do to build habits that will help you nurture it:

Set boundaries: You’re only human so there will be times you get stressed and feel overloaded. Be sure to have time to yourself where you can meet with friends or just relax with your family. Taking time will help you maintain the right attitude with staff. 

Set clear goals: Be sure that your team knows exactly what you want from them. Plan projects thoroughly with checkpoints and a detailed roadmap of who’s doing what and when. A project management tool like Asana can help keep track of this information. 

Encourage ideas: Don’t think you have to do everything. Have regular team meetings where you ask for feedback, talk through blockers and are open to suggestions from the room. This can help your team feel valued and safe in the knowledge that they can come to you with anything.

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