The popular topic of emotional intelligence continues to gain ground. You can't blame countless authors for writing about it, and you certainly can't blame scores of coaches, trainers, and consultants for wanting to teach the principles to leaders. 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a hot item because it makes the workplace better. While IQ will undoubtedly make people successful at their jobs, EQ will further advance the careers of those already smart leaders being asked to navigate political landscapes, manage conflict, and keep workers engaged while achieving results.

There are multiple reasons for creating a culture of employees exhibiting emotional intelligence. It just makes business sense. For example:

  • Teamwork improves. People communicate better with their emotional intelligence, share ideas, and are open to others' ideas.

  • Trust increases. People are less likely to dominate a situation and "take over" without considering and consulting the views of others first. This creates trust as the group works together. 

  • Customer experience improves. When a culture of emotional intelligence is at work, it makes teams that much stronger. In turn, this is reflected in a more positive customer experience.

  • Resilience is high in workers. Covid-19 has brought with it immense change and disruption. With change can come fear, anxiety, and turmoil. However, employees with high EQ bounce back, adjust easily, and embrace unexpected changes by rolling with the punches. 

  • People stay positive during hard times. High EQ will show up in staying calm and positive during tough conversations and disagreements with customers or coworkers.

  • More efficient and productive people. Hire a team with high emotional intelligence and watch how much more efficiently they'll manage their time to complete projects and meet important deadlines than those with less EQ. 

8 self-reflection questions to ask

To get a better understanding of where you measure up against the high bar of emotional intelligence, ask yourself these questions with an honest yes or no.

  1. Are you usually aware of your feelings and why you feel that way?
  2. Are you aware of your limitations, as well as your personal strengths, as a leader?
  3. Can you manage your distressing emotions well, e.g., recover quickly when you get upset or stressed?
  4. Can you adapt smoothly to changing realities?
  5. Do you keep your focus on your main goals, and know the steps it takes to get there?
  6. Can you usually sense the feelings of the people you interact with and understand their way of seeing things?
  7. Do you have a knack for persuasion and using your influence effectively?
  8. Can you guide a negotiation to a satisfactory agreement, and help settle conflicts?

As you think about improving your leadership in 2021, which of these questions can you confidently answer with a resounding yes? And which do you feel are a work in progress or an area for growth?