Leadership is fundamentally about facilitating high performance, getting others to do things effectively and efficiently. Emotional intelligence is a key attribute that helps leaders achieve this function. There is a wealth of literature detailing the impact emotion has on individuals’ performance. This research has shown for example that people perform their best at work when they feel involved in purposeful work that develops who they are, when they feel valued, cared for, consulted, respected, informed and understood. This research has also shown that people often perform their worst when they feel unproductive feelings such as feeling overly worried, frustrated, concerned, stressed, inadequate and fearful.
So what does emotional intelligence look like when applied to leadership? Emotionally intelligent leadership competencies reflect what leaders do with their emotional intelligence in the leadership of people. The model of emotionally intelligent leadership competencies is shown below. The competencies of the model help leaders “be” the productive being states on the outside of the model, as opposed to the unproductive being states, that we can all be at times, on the inside of the model.
Self-Awareness = The Aware Leader
Self-Awareness is about being aware of the behaviour you demonstrate, your strengths and limitations, and the impact you have on others. Leaders high in this skill are often said to be Present rather than Disconnected with who they are.
Self-awareness is important in leadership because:
• A leader’s behaviour can positively or negatively impact the performance and engagement of colleagues,
• Leaders need to know their strengths and limitations in order to continuously improve and maintain success, and
• Leaders interpretation of events at work is both made by, and limited by, their intelligence, personality, values and beliefs. In order to objectively evaluate events leaders must know how they interpret the world and how this helps and limits them.
Awareness of Others = The Empathetic Leader
Awareness of others is about noticing and acknowledging others, ensuring others feel valued and adjusting your leadership style to best fit with others. Leaders high in this skill are often described as Empathetic rather than Insensitive to others and their feelings. Awareness of others is important in leadership because:
• Leadership is fundamentally about facilitating performance and the way others feel is directly linked to the way the perform, • Awareness of Others is necessary in order to take effective steps to influence and facilitate others performance, and
• To get the best out of people leaders need to adjust their leadership style to best fit with the people and situation they are leading.
Authenticity = The Genuine Leader
Authenticity is about openly and effectively expressing oneself, honouring commitments and encouraging this behaviour in others. It involves appropriately expressing specific feelings at work such as happiness and frustration, providing feedback to colleagues about the way you feel, and expressing emotions at the right time, to the right degree and to the right people. Leaders high in this skill are often described as Genuine whereas leaders low in this skill are often described as Untrustworthy. Authenticity is important in leadership because:
• It helps leaders create understanding, openness and feelings of trust in others.
• Leaders who are guarded, avoid conflict, or are inappropriately blunt about the way they feel can create mistrust, artificial harmony and misunderstandings with those around them, and
• Leaders need their people to be open with them. If as a leader you do not role-model this behaviour your direct reports will be guarded with you.
Emotional Reasoning = The Expansive Leader
Emotional reasoning is the skill of using emotional information (from yourself and others) and combining it with other facts and information when decision-making. Leaders high in this skill make Expansive decisions whereas leaders who are low in this skill often make more Limited decisions based on facts and technical data only. Emotional reasoning is important in leadership because:
• Feelings and emotions contain important information. For example, if a colleague is demonstrating frustration or stress, these feelings provide insight that they are going to be less open and supportive of new ideas and
• The workplace is becoming more complex and fast-paced. This requires quick, good decision-making where all the facts and technical data are not available. Gut feel and intuition are important in these environments; and
• People are influenced by emotion. If you fail to consider how people are likely to feel and react to decisions made you may not achieve the appropriate buy-in or support for your decisions.
Self-Management = The Resilient Leader
Self-Management is about managing one’s own mood and emotions; time and behaviour; and continuously improving oneself. This emotionally intelligent leadership competency is particularly important. Leaders high in this skill are often described as Resilient rather than Temperamental in the workplace. The modern workplace is one of high work demands and stress, which can cause negative emotions and outcomes. Self-Management is important in leadership because:
• A leader’s mood can be very infectious and can therefore be a powerful force in the workplace, one that can be both productive and unproductive,
• This skill helps leaders be resilient and manage high work demands and stress, and
• To achieve, maintain and enhance success leaders need to pay conscious attention to the way they manage time, how they behave and to continuously improve how they lead others.
Inspiring-Performance = The Empowering Leader
Inspiring performance is about facilitating high performance in others through problem solving, promoting, recognising and supporting others work. Individual’s performance can be managed with key performance indicators. This is important, however, research has shown that this ‘compliance’ style often fails to drive discretionary effort and high performance. Leaders who combine this with a more inspiring style often Empower others to perform above and beyond what is expected of them. Inspiring Performance is important in leadership because:
• Leadership is fundamentally about facilitating the performance of others,
• Managing performance with rules and key performance indicators usually produces an ‘expected’, result, rather than an ‘unexpected’ high performance result, and
• People often learn and develop more with this type of leadership style resulting in continuous enhancements to performance year-on-year.
Marcus is a leading South African and African Speaker, Teacher, Assessor, and Author, in the sciences of applied emotional intelligence for leadership, sales, and workplace human development. For more information on workshops and assessments kindly call +27 82 855 4383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org