The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership | Stepshift

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership

Monday, February 21st, 2011

To remain effective in a leadership role, leaders should invest time and effort in the continuous development of their emotional intelligence (EQ).

By their nature leadership roles are challenging. Leaders are asked to make the hard calls. When something is escalated to the leader, it is often because it is a matter that is difficult to resolve or involves some element of contention. Leaders need the ability to absorb and understand a lot of information and get to the heart of issues quickly and make decisions. They have to gain and keep the trust and respect of their executive or senior management teams and to ensure the dynamics of that team remain good. The buck stops with the leader and he or she is under continuous pressure to ensure the team or business is on track towards achieving their financial targets.

With a role of this nature, leaders need a healthy dose of emotional intelligence to enable them navigate the inevitable challenges and remain calm, confident and effective. In essence, a leader with a good level of EQ will have:

  • A high degree of self awareness
  • A good ability to manage him or herself emotionally
  • An ability to effectively manage relationships with others
  • An ability to understand and work constructively with a range of perspectives

It is easy to ignore the importance of leadership emotional intelligence when times are good. When financial results are strong and the organisation and leadership team is tracking well, the leader is not subject to the same degree of challenge as when things urgently need improvement. It is at times of challenge that a leader’s emotional intelligence is more often called upon. Although it is possible to learn and develop all aspects of EQ, it would be difficult for the leader to do this alone. It is therefore important that leaders invest, not just in the continuous development of their management skills, but also in their EQ development.

Leaders are coaches for their managers or executives. Leaders themselves need access to some form of executive development or leadership coaching or mentoring to ensure they can reflect on and continuously improve their leadership effectiveness. For example, a leader faced with a difficult member of his or her executive team may find themselves becoming angry or frustrated with the behaviour of that team member. Left unchecked, those feelings can develop into hostile behaviour that threatens the healthy dynamic of the team. However if the leader has an opportunity (for example in a leadership coaching session) to reflect upon the situation, objectively identify the issues and determine how he/she will deal with the situation, a much more positive result can be achieved. To be effective, leaders need to remain in a calm, objective, constructive frame of mind. Some form of regular executive coaching or leadership development is a very useful tool in helping them achieve this.

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