Thursday, June 8, 2023

Emotional intelligence for effective leadership


By Saurabhi Sarmah

Leadership efficiency and emotional intelligence are deeply interconnected with each other.

“I may say and think and believe one thing, but in the end, I’m going to do what I feel.”

~ Allen Morris

Leadership can be learnt, or it may be inborn to a certain extent. Any individual can become a leader with the help of learning, experience and inherent traits and lead people. But how many of us can actually lead effectively or become successful leaders? How many of us are capable of reading our own and the emotions of others and deciphering their impact on people in a professional environment? That is the most critical question.

Here comes the role of emotions in our lives. Understanding the emotions of one’s own self and others and creating a professional environment where every single team member feels important; their emotions are understood and respected is not an easy task for a leader. But yes, this is desirable in any leader for long-term sustainability and growth of any organization in the current time to match with the requirements of the changing time and life. By understanding the mood or emotions of the team, a leader can accelerate his/her personal growth as well as the growth of the organization.

A leader is responsible for not only managing the mood of his/ her team, but the entire image of an organization depends on the work culture and environment he/she might have created in the organization! When a leader understands the mood or emotions of the team by assessing their emotions and behaviour, he/she can come up with effective action plans or solutions to deal with specific professional scenarios. A lot depends on how a leader manages the moods of team members, keeping them happy in the most challenging situations and ensuring the highest level of productivity at the same time. Hence, an emotionally intelligent leader is the need of the hour for any organization to thrive.

Why is Emotional Intelligence (EI) important for leaders? 

All companies or organizations are basically built in order to provide services to humans with the help of humans. We are dealing with human beings at workplaces, although we are creating non-living products. Although automation and robotics have started to play a major role in the workplace in replacing manual labour, we need not forget that at the end of the day, we need a human brain to run a machine and not vice versa.

So, what is emotional intelligence?

It’s basically our ability to read, realize and manage/influence our own emotions and also understand, emphasize and influence the emotions of others around us. Understanding the self and its related aspects like our personality, attitude, strength and weakness and emotional triggers and their impact on our daily life plus on those around us is quite important for a leader to run a team effectively.

The term emotional intelligence came into existence with the publication of “Emotional Intelligence”, – an article published jointly by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990, and later it was popularized by psychologists like Daniel Goleman and Travis Bradberry in their books Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 respectively.

Also, EI can be considered as one of the essential social skills that would actually help a leader stand out from the crowd in an organization that lacks the emotional component in them and help/her achieve greater heights of professional success. Because emotionally intelligent leaders do not grow alone, they carry the entire team with them, providing opportunities for growth and infusing them with the right coaching, grooming and feedback.

An emotionally intelligent leader can foster a lot of positivity in the workplace by understanding the team’s dynamics and caring for the inmates because, at the end of the day, we all like to be understood, helped and cared for. Under such leadership, employees not only feel comfortable but also become more productive and risk-takers.

How to be an emotionally intelligent leader? 

It begins with you and your understanding of the self. Listed below are some of the competencies that can actually help in developing one’s emotional intelligence –

  • Self-awareness,
  • Self-control
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Self-reflection
  • Cooperation

Who is an emotionally intelligent leader?

A leader can be considered emotionally intelligent who –

  • Understands his/her emotions well and their impact on others
  • Uses and manages his/her emotions to achieve desired goals
  • Understands the emotions of other
  • Is capable of building trust and rapport with team members
  • Inspires team members
  • Is Empathetic towards the problems of others, capable of listening to the problems of others, reading their mind and body language and coming up with a solution.
  • Listens to others/ team members carefully when they are in trouble
  • Observes what is going on with the team members at an individual and collective level.

Successful leadership is all about Humanizing Leadership

For any leadership to be successful and long-lasting and have loyal followers, a leader should be able to decipher the complex emotions of his/her team members. To find out what your peer needs, understand their concerns and perceive their feelings – is an essential requirement for successful leadership, along with understanding the ‘self’.

Hence, it has become reasonably necessary for a leader to focus on ‘humanizing leadership’ for enhanced productivity and eliminating all unnecessary disruptions in any organization. Valuing human relationships, building a solid connection and adopting a people-centric approach to leadership rather than a ‘power’ or ‘ hierarchy’ centric approach, a leader can ensure the well-being and organizational growth – because eventually, we are all a team of humans engaged in creating products and services for our clients/customers. Hence the ‘human connect’ is more important than the ‘power connect’.

In this context, the observation made by Hugh MacLeod is particularly relevant. He says – “When we actually carry out a “people matter” approach, we as leaders and our organization’s benefit. A fully engaged workforce will outperform a disengaged workforce any day of the week. There are numerous research studies that back this assertion. Moreover, employees who are engaged in the workplace are more open to innovative ideas and new tools. They are open to new ways to enhance the work they do, rather than just performing the bare minimum required. This attitude is a prerequisite for innovation and growth (July 2022) ” And this is possible for a leader who is sensitive and capable of understanding others; to put it briefly – an emotionally intelligent leader!

Also Read: How incarceration impacts prisoners and their families’ mental health

(Saurabhi Sarmah is currently working as Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences, The Assam Kaziranga University.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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