3 Ways to Strengthen Emotional Intelligence

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet

The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be in building teams that collaborate, take ownership and deliver results. A leader’s strong interpersonal skills enable the creation of connections and the development of trust necessary to help teams achieve goals and drive change. Understanding how their emotions and actions affect those they lead, and engaging openly and transparently with their team, enables these leaders to guide, challenge and sustain their people. These are qualities that define strong emotional intelligence. 

Emotionally self-aware leaders find it easier to be empathetic. Leaders whose drive to achieve is coupled with a positive outlook and adaptability generate an emotional edge that motivates action. Helping employees realize how they make a difference cultivates a sense of appreciation that inspires the extra effort necessary for teams to deliver improvements. 

Exercising these 3 behaviors on a daily basis can strengthen your emotional intelligence:

  1. Practice active listening. Focus on hearing the spoken and unspoken message instead of rehearsing your response; recognize when body language is inconsistent with the words spoken. If you have difficulty reading an employee’s emotion, ask the person to describe how he or she feels about the information they’re sharing and why they’re feeling this way. Then, summarize what you heard the individual say and ask if your summary of the message is accurate. 
  2. Show that you care. Ensure that your expressions of caring are genuine in delivery and tone. People need to know that they are appreciated, so be consistent in thanking people and be specific about what they did well. Mentor employees who have earned the opportunity. Strive for balance between the head and the heart, modulating intensity and compassion. Realize that those you lead may not share your same drive to succeed or your willingness to sacrifice.  
  3. Monitor your reactions to an employee’s message. Be sure that you react on two levels – to the facts and to the expressed emotions, needs, etc. If you can’t interpret the emotional connection, ask until you understand it. Pay attention to your own emotions as you do this. Seek feedback on your reactions from trusted employees, or from a mentor who can effectively describe your impact on others.

As workplaces continue to evolve, the demand grows for leaders with strong emotional intelligence. 

How actively do you mentor and coach your people?

How do you influence and inspire your team?

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