Enhance your leadership skills with your soft side - Business Works
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Enhance your leadership skills with your soft side

by Marielena Sabatier, CEO, Inspiring Potential Understanding and managing emotions in the workplace is a crucial skill for business leaders if they want to build a high-performing team and ensure a great working culture in the office says Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential.

In any business it is vital that people, particularly those in positions of authority, can manage their own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems and build rapport with people in tense or challenging situations. They need empathy and to remain optimistic even in the face of adversity. This 'clarity' in thinking and 'composure' in stressful and difficult situations is called 'emotional intelligence' and it is becoming increasingly important for managers and leaders to understand this as an important business tool.

Whilst many people have heard of the term Emotional Intelligence (EQ), most won’t have had time to consider what it could mean to them and how it could enhance their personal development or their career. Some may even dismiss it as too touchy-feely or they think it's related to the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), however, in doing so they could be doing themselves and their career prospects a disservice.

Emotional Intelligence is defined by the ability to understand our emotions and those of people around us. This quality gives people a number of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships well and to inspire and influence others. These skills can be used by managers to get their teams working more efficiently, collaboratively and productivity and also by leaders to inspire and motivate their employees.

The good news is that emotional intelligence is within us all – it just needs to be developed and those who stand out as fantastic leaders will have the highest and most developed levels of emotional intelligence.

Research shows that Emotional Intelligence can be developed until well into our 40s, so regardless if we are born as a leader or not, we can improve our performance by understanding how to use it.

Emotional Intelligence consists of four attributes:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to recognise and name your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours. It helps you understand objectively and accept your strengths and weaknesses. As a result, you have more self-confidence.

  • Self-management: The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, demonstrate and manage your emotions in healthy ways and take initiative and follow through in commitments.

  • Social awareness: The ability to understand others' point of view, their emotions, concerns and needs, and show empathy.

  • Relationship management: The ability to use social awareness to build and maintain good relationships, to communicate clearly, inspire and influence others and manage conflict effectively.

Some of the main benefits of emotional intelligence are that it enables managers to create great working culture, by improving the way they communicate, building strong relationships and establishing a positive working environment.

In any company, conflict can lower performance. It affects wellbeing and focus and can create unnecessary stress. Having a good performing team is critical for the success of any company, but particularly small businesses, as teams are smaller and work closer together, often being more sensitive to conflict or emotional situations, as a result.

Becoming an emotionally intelligent leader

By becoming an emotionally intelligent leader, you can motivate and inspire the people working for you to work better and be more fulfilled at work. Emotional intelligence can help business owners solve their retention and morale problems, improve information flow, getting people working better together and driving forward business objectives.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are self aware, they know their strength and areas of development and they know how their behaviour can impact others and can manage their emotions effectively.

In the past, emotions were often thought of as a set of characteristics that needed to be controlled as they demonstrated weakness and instability. It was believed that focusing on the task was the only way to increase efficiency. However, now we know that in order to function professionally, we have to acknowledge and manage our own emotions and others to encourage smooth communication and avoid conflicts.

Managing emotions

Managing emotions though does not mean simply bottling them up or ignoring them, as this can often lead to stress. The consequence of employees bottling or ignoring emotions can lead to petty conflicts in the workplace which eventually spiral out of control.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman described emotional intelligence as knowing how one is feeling and being able to handle those feelings without becoming swamped; being able to motivate oneself to get jobs done; being creative and performing at one’s peak; sensing what others are feeling and handling relationships effectively.

So how can we develop emotional intelligence? The reality is that some people are better than others at reading their own and other's emotions, however, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed with the help of a few strategies.

Here are some tips to increase your emotional intelligence and that of your team:

  • Ask for feedback, get to know your own strengths and weaknesses;
  • Pay attention to your team, notice their mindset and emotional state;
  • Encourage open and honest communication;
  • Take the time to acknowledge and thank your team for their effort.

For more information, please visit: www.inspiring-potential.co.uk

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