Emotional Intelligence, broadly defined, is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
In today’s workplace, Emotional Intelligence or EI as it’s commonly called, has lifted itself as a top team-building component. In fact, in the recent past, EI has completely overshadowed the concepts of both “Employee Engagement” and “Staff Satisfaction” as a key to recruiting and maintaining top workers at companies in various fields of industry.
Because, at work, at home or at play, human beings are driven by the three As: approval, acceptance and affection. At the end of the day, all people really want is to be respected and valued and a good leader should master not only his or her own EI but be able to nurture and grow it in team members.
Simply, one’s EI level defines both his or her own people skills as well as an empathetic ability to cultivate them in others.
Since 1990, psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have led the charge on researching EI and its impact. They define EI as "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions.”
Brief Overview of EI
Salovey and Mayer identified the four main factors of emotional intelligence as:
- Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to perceive them accurately. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
- Reasoning with Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
- Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if an employee is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied at work but it might also be because he's arguing with his wife. It may take investigating to reveal the root cause, at times.
- Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a crucial part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.
It’s clear why EI is necessary in the workplace; it helps to: build trust among team members, create at atmosphere of empathy for colleagues, promote problem-solving, and encourages positivity which creates cohesiveness in a group and increases productivity.
Unsurprisingly, a study published in The Leadership Quarterly shows that people who have high EI perform better and experience more job satisfaction than those with lower EI. Moreover, it’s one of the most inexpensive bonuses a leadership team can offer staff members.
When asked about the most important attributes a good leader displays, the late entrepreneur Sam Walton, famous as the founder of both Walmart and Sam’s Club, said, ““Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune.”
When a team consists of and is led by emotionally intelligent people they tend to form bonds that allow them to set aside daily conflicts and irritations in order to focus on the team's main objectives.
EI promotes an attitude of camaraderie and provides a backdrop of mutual respect. And only good things can happen in the workplace from there.
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