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The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence for Great Leaders

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Many believe that the characteristics that make a good leader are the traditional traits, such as charisma, drive, and vision. However, what’s more important than all the other characteristics and is present in all of the greatest leaders is emotional intelligence. The best and most successful leaders are considered emotionally intelligent, meaning they can understand their own emotions and those of others.

This term became popular in 1996 when Dan Goleman published his book “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence” and defined the five parts of emotional intelligence which are self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy and social skills.

Below are the 5 components of emotional intelligence critical to be a great leader:

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to acknowledge in real-time your own emotions and passions and the effect those have on others. You know the impact your emotions have on your behavior and that they can be contagious. This means that an emotionally intelligent leader will keep a positive and inspiring tone to their emotions to motivate their team and keep a calm office.

Someone who has a short fuse and irrational reactions to certain things will undoubtedly affect the morale or their team. A leader who behaves in a calmer, more relaxed way, even in the face of unexpected obstacles or challenges will gain the respect of their team.

2. Self-Regulation

Understanding your emotions and their effect is one thing, but a truly important aspect of emotional intelligence is self-regulation, the ability to channel or refocus potentially negative emotions into constructive action. For example, fear doesn’t lead to a failure to act but inspires a leader to tackle the thing they fear.

Self-regulation can be defined as personal accountability or staying in control of your emotions. If you are tempted to let your frustrations out on someone else, instead of holding your breath and counting to ten, try writing down the negative comments on paper then shredding it – this can be really helpful for letting off steam and regaining your calm.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

3. Internal Motivation

A key component of emotional intelligence is self-motivation. This means that a person does not need external validation or factors such as money or status to drive their work. A self-motivated person will have naturally high standards, optimism, and passion towards achieving their purpose. This, in turn, motivates individuals working under such a leader.

How can you become more self-motivated? Consider why you’re doing your job, and why you were passionate about it in the first place. It’s important to understand your purpose and remind yourself why you love your job. If you come across an obstacle in your work, try to find a positive from it, or a lesson learned.

4. Empathy

Empathetic leaders can relate to what other people are going through and can adapt their approach accordingly. Empathy in a leader means they listen to their team, both what they are saying verbally but also non-verbal cues such as tone and body language. This is critical for a good leader, as it creates an inclusive team with engaged and loyal members.

A leader without empathy won’t realize the impact their decisions or words have on others, which affects their ability to self-regulate. They may also ask too much of their team, or make unreasonable requests, whereas a leader with empathy will understand the individuality of each person’s situation and how that affects their work.

To improve your empathy, it’s as simple as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Seeing something from someone else’s perspective is invaluable for understanding their motivations.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.” – Henry Ford

5. Social Skills

Social skills can include building rapport, team building, and networking. Social skills are important for dealing with awkward situations, conflict resolution, and motivating and praising team members.

These 5 components of emotional intelligence are important for any aspiring leader to understand. As an emotionally intelligent leader, you know how to manage your emotions and use these to motivate and inspire your team. The better a person becomes at managing these 5 aspects, the more chance they have of being a successful leader.

Which one of the emotional intelligence components described above do you find most important? Share your thoughts with us below!

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