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First, the devastating and life-changing pandemic, and now, the tense geopolitical scenario globally. It seems uncertainties have become the new normal for businesses today.
While uncertainties can cast a glooming spell on businesses, the right leadership can turn this into an opportunity for growth.
After all, many of the prime businesses we see today – Apple, Google, Uber, GE, were all born during the recession.
A common thing with these businesses was their strong and agile leadership.
But who is an ideal leader?
What skills and qualities do they possess?
A technically savvy professional who is a good decision-maker and knows how to get the job done? Someone who is dauntless and even ruthless when required?
Yes, most certainly.
But with the world still recovering from a pandemic and competition among industries at an all-time high, Emotional Quotient (EQ) or Emotional Intelligence can be the most sought-after leadership skill of the decade.
What is EQ or Emotional Intelligence?
EQ is an individual’s ability to acknowledge and manage their emotions. At the same time, it also refers to their ability to perceive the emotions of others around them.
Having high EQ requires a significant amount of empathy as one must deeply feel the emotions of others around them. But, apart from empathy, it also requires other skills like building rapport and conflict resolution, with the ability to manage their own emotions omnipresent in the overall scheme of things.
Why Does EQ Matter in Leadership?
Agility Quotient (AQ) is vital for businesses to succeed amid the growing competition, innovations, disruptions, and unpredictable market conditions.
Along with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and SQ (Spiritual Quotient), EQ plays a critical role in helping leaders and businesses become truly agile.
According to a study involving 358 managers by Johnson & Johnson, the top-performing managers possessed significantly higher EQ than their lower-performing counterparts.
Lower emotional intelligence, especially among leaders, could have vast implications. For instance, a study by Georgetown University found that-
- 75% of the employees lost commitment to their jobs due to a low EQ leader
- 63% of the employees wasted time avoiding the leader
- 12% of them quit their jobs, specifically due to bad leadership
Signs of a Leader with High EQ
As mentioned above, emotionally intelligent leaders are highly empathetic. And it is not just about listening to others but ensuring them that they are being heard and understood.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are optimistic as they understand the importance of motivating and uplifting others, especially during tough times.
Leaders with higher IQ, SQ, and EQ are also highly agile. Whether it is a company crisis or interpersonal conflict, they are very quick to react and respond to the changing dynamics.
Another common trait among leaders with higher EQ is their eagerness to take the initiative. They’re constantly looking for ways to excel and improve, not just themselves but their team members too.
Conflicts are unavoidable when you’re working in teams. Emotionally intelligent leaders encourage conversations amid conflicts and try to resolve them before they turn into dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
Building EQ Through 3 Key Awareness
When stress overwhelms us, it becomes very challenging for us to think clearly and make rational decisions. In the process, our ability to assess our own emotions and that of others also become compromised.
Being mindful allows you to manage the negative emotions better and harness the positive ones.
Here are a few tips for practising mindfulness-
- Meditate regularly
- Take regular breaks
- Practice gratitude
- Listen actively
- Accept what you can’t change
- Cultivate humility
2. Emotional Awareness
Our ability (or inability) to manage core feelings like sadness, anger, joy, and fear is often a reflection of the consistency and quality of past emotional experiences. Therefore, how well you connect with your current emotions is critical to clearly understanding how your emotions impact your thoughts and actions.
Accept and appreciate your emotions.
Improving EQ is never about denying your emotions and feelings. They are “your” emotions, and you develop them as some sort of support mechanism. A good starting point would be to analyze whether you deny or keep the emotions “turned off.”
Ask yourself these questions-
- Do your emotions change in different situations?
- Are the emotions often accompanied by physical sensations, like in your chest, throat, or stomach?
- Can you clearly distinguish between individual emotions like sadness, fear, anger, and joy?
3. Social Awareness
Socially aware leaders are good at responding to complex social situations while being perceptive of others’ feelings and emotions. It allows you to envision the impact of your decisions or actions on people around you and the world at large.
Practice deep listening
Someone famous rightly said, “Listen to understand, not to respond”. But we often find ourselves in the trap of a response loop while listening to others. As a leader, it’s important to listen closely and perceptively.
But how can you be a good listener? Try these exercises-
- Remove all possible distractions while listening – phone, emails, etc.
- Try and visualize what the person is saying
- The moment you don’t understand, ask for clarification
- Make eye contact
- Provide feedback during conversations
- Respond appropriately
Is It Possible to Develop EQ?
Our childhood experiences and genetics influence our EQ, which remains mostly within a range throughout our lifetime. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
As humans, we possess the ability to change ourselves to a great extent, including our prowess in acknowledging and managing our emotions as well as those of others. But unfortunately, only a few are seriously willing to try.
With correct guidance and dedication, no mountain is too high to climb. Sometimes all we need is a Sherpa that can help us climb Mount EQ and boost our entrepreneurial potential.