For a long time, emotions, feelings or moods were considered irrelevant or even completely incompatible with the world of work and business. Employers expected their employees to leave all personal emotions on the office doorstep, as it was considered unprofessional and detrimental to the functioning of the business to let them speak.
Recently, we can observe that employers are paying more and more attention to employees’ soft skills. In this change of approach, the concept of emotional intelligence comes to the fore. Daniel Goleman, psychologist, researcher and creator of the concept of natural leadership, defines emotional intelligence as the ability to understand oneself and one’s emotions, to manage and control them, the ability to self-motivate, empathy and skills of a social nature.
An outstanding leader is able to rouse people to action, infect them with ideas, motivate them and make their subordinates feel a sense of shared mission. All these skills are based on the skilful use of emotions. When we feel good at work, we are more willing to get involved and give our best. Employees who perform their tasks with enthusiasm contribute to improving the performance of the entire company.
Traits of an emotionally intelligent leader
According to Goleman, an emotionally intelligent leader is characterised by self-awareness, self-control, social awareness and can manage relationships. These abilities are interrelated and are best developed in the order listed below.
Self-awareness – is the basis for working on emotional intelligence. It allows one to notice and recognise one’s own emotions and is a skill of insight into oneself. It allows us to observe how the actions we engage in, the behaviour of others or their emotions affect ourselves. It is an essential step towards self-control.
Self-control – the ability to deal with and manage emotions, it allows us to discharge negative emotions in a conscious manner, it protects us from outbursts of anger or attacks of frustration, it is also the ability to arouse positive attitudes and good emotions in ourselves.
Social awareness – largely understood as empathy – allows one to pick up on the feelings of others, empathise with the situation, and thus become attuned to the team, sense the atmosphere and the values or priorities shared.
Relationship management – the ability to arouse positive resonance, to resonate with the group, the ability to arouse appropriate emotions in others, to shift the mood of the whole group. Allows one to instil desired values, create a sense of common purpose, motivate and inspire.
An emotionally intelligent team
Every team of people is characterised by a certain level of emotional intelligence, which is influenced by its individual members. An emotionally intelligent leader is particularly influential in shaping his or her team. People naturally pay attention to the leader, pick up on their emotions and pick up on their role models, which is why the role of the leader is so important in shaping an emotionally intelligent team.
To create an emotionally intelligent team, the competences mentioned earlier – self-awareness, self-control, social awareness and relationship management – need to be promoted individually, in each team member. Increased empathy leads to the creation of collective norms and allows the group to build good relationships with the rest of the organisation. Members of such teams feel comfortable with each other and are more effective and efficient in their work than teams with low emotional intelligence.
An emotionally intelligent organisation
Fostering emotional intelligence at an organisational level is much more difficult than it is for an individual team, but the benefits of embedding a culture based on emotional intelligence are very valuable from a business operations perspective. Leaders have the greatest influence in shaping the culture of an organisation and in driving change within individual teams. Therefore, in terms of the company as a whole, emotionally intelligent leaders, at every level of the organisation, are extremely important – it is through them that norms, values are created, empathy develops and they are the ones who support the creation of healthy relationships.
Author: Bożena Roczniak