By Laura Stevens
Why high emotional intelligence is the mark of a good leader.
“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.”
David Caruso, Special Assistant to the Dean, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
How do you react to criticism at work? Do you listen to your colleagues at meetings, or just wait until it’s your turn to speak? Do you accept responsibility for mistakes or missed deadlines? Think carefully before you answer. Of course, we all know how we’re supposed to conduct ourselves in the workplace, but keeping our emotions in check one hundred percent of the time can be a challenge when situations or co-workers become difficult. At times, our emotions may eclipse our intelligence.
The concept of emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI, or EQ, was developed in 1990 by professors John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey. The term refers to the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, and to understand the emotions of others. In the workplace, we can apply this to how we incorporate maturity, empathy and compassion when making decisions, as opposed to sheer emotional or reactive decision-making. It’s worth noting that complete absence of emotion does not constitute emotional intelligence—what we’re talking about here is a healthy balance of heart and mind.
Cultivating emotional intelligence can make a profound improvement in one’s interpersonal and management skills. High emotional intelligence in leaders inspires loyalty and engagement among employees—which inevitably contributes to an organization’s overall success. However, it’s not just about understanding your employees and having them like you. Being able to give unpleasant feedback, even “ruffle feathers” when necessary, is also key. An effective leader knows how to resolve conflicts, inspire others and bring out the best in people—all the while remaining cool-headed and optimistic. Easy, right?
Because emotional intelligence is directly linked to effective leadership and management, a lack of EQ skills could hinder your professional growth. The Center for Professional Education offers the following courses that can help you recognize and manage your emotions for wiser decision-making and leadership in the workplace:
Laura Stevens is a marketing communications writer and content strategist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.
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