Emotional intelligence (EI) guru Daniel Goleman states, “For star performers in all jobs, in every field, emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities.”
This is one of our favorite quotes at Arden Coaching, mostly because we’ve seen the incredible effects that improving an individual’s EI can have on his or her leadership ability. While technical know-how may be enough to get your foot in the door, EI molds employees into executives and executives into leaders.
If you want to learn more about EI’s central role in effective leadership, consult Arden Coaching’s article below.
Above all else, the ability to lead revolves around people. Yet so many individuals who are challenged with stepping into a leadership role aren’t equipped with the skills required to effectively lead. Why is this such a common roadblock? Because the technical skills that experts in their field possess don’t directly translate into leading.
Leadership development is contingent on improving one’s people skills at a deeper level, starting with the way they understand themselves and others (their EI).
An Unpredictable Science
People aren’t straightforward or predictable. Your smartest right-hand team member may be superb at crunching numbers, but in order to lead, he or she can’t use the same line of thinking they use in their current role. That’s because cognitive thinking is more rational and EI is more of an inexact science.
Improving EI requires training your own thoughts and belief patterns to manage their consequential actions. Other people don’t cause emotions; it’s your perceptions of their actions and how you believe you should be treated that does. Breaking down the barriers that nearly all humans put up, “I should be treated with respect,” “I ought to get what I want,” “I need to have xyz to be happy” is step one in improving your EI.
With more of an objective position, you can better understand others in a similar way. This acuity informs your own next steps and the next steps that you determine on the behalf of others. Thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are what make people unpredictable. As a leader, you need to be able to work with these things and not against them, and EI is about doing that.
In the Subtle Cues
Recognizing the subtler cues is where EI takes over. These tiny hints may be the overall feeling in a room, a person’s expression or posture, what’s said or, equally as important, what’s not said. Picking up on these cues and responding to them appropriately is what helps us form and strengthen new and existing relationships with others.
For example, if your boss storms by clearly upset and slams the door behind them, your EI is there to tell you to give your boss some space instead of following them into their office to ask for a promotion.
While this is a bit of a louder example, a lot of times we don’t pick up on the cues where enhanced EI would tip us off. Leadership excels in the subtler cues, and it’s sensing these small changes in people that allows leaders to be most effective.
EI is a far-ranging, fascinating subject, and connecting EI to leadership barely scratches the surface. If you’re interested in enlisting an EI-savvy coach to help you take your leadership skills to the next level, check out Arden Coaching’s eBook How Does an Executive Coaching Engagement Work? to find out if an executive coaching partnership may be the right move for you.