Traits of Leaders Who Have High Emotional Intelligence

    4 min read time
    How do you know a leader is good? What about what makes them GREAT?
    We all know skills are great to have - I mean we are told to scatter them all across our resumes and LinkedIn profiles, right?!
    But what really distinguishes the world's most successful leaders is emotional intelligence - the ability to clearly identify and monitor your own emotions and the emotions of others around you. 
    This isn't easy and usually doesn't come naturally. 
    More and more companies are looking at their hiring and employee development through the lens of emotional intelligence. There is so much research that's been done that shows the more emotional intelligence a person has, the better their performance. emotional intelligence
    There are a handful of traits top leaders have I want to further discuss here. Take a look at them and honestly measure yourself against them:
    1. Self-awareness
    This is a BIG one, which is why I have it listed as number one. It's definition is the capacity to tune into your own emotions - allowing you to know what you are feeling and why, and in addition, how your feelings help or hurt your actions.
    If you have great self-awareness, you operate from your expertise and knowledge, as well as know when you should rely on another team member. You are clear on your values and purpose; therefore you quickly and easily make decisions! 

    So if you don't think you have enough self-awareness, how can you improve? 
    Well, think about it - every moment is an opportunity to practice self-awareness. Be conscious about the situations and events in your life and at work. During times of frustration, (such as in the job search process), pinpoint the root cause of your frustration, as well as what triggers your feelings in those moments. 
    2. Self-management
    Management and leadership ARE different, as we've talked about before. But SELF-management is an imperative trait for top leaders as it's ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control. POWERFUL skill in times of crisis (which we all have been going through lately) because your team members and others around you look to you as a leader for reassurance. If the leader is calm, the team will be too. I've been there - both as a leader who was a bit hectic and calm. The calmer I was, the calmer my team was and believed that we could get through the situation. 
    Some key components of self-management are:
    - Emotional self control, which is where you stay calm under pressure and recover easily and quickly from any upsets (think your company's stock dropped over night or a supplier's inventory was all bad/unusable)
    - Adaptability, where you are able to find new ways of dealing with overnight challenges and can balance numerous demands at once.
    - Achieving excellence, where you genuinely accept feedback and always seeking ways to do things better (all you continuous improvement professionals....we call this LEAN).
    - Positivism, where you always see the good in people, circumstances and events. I know this can be hard for so many people, but having this component of self-management will set the stage for innovation and so many opportunities. 
    These take time for sure. The biggest takeaway with improving the components of self-management is to give yourself grace. It's okay to have to adjust your strategy or priorities based on what is important in the moment. 
    3. Social-awareness
    This one is a trait that starts at young ages. Think of your children. When they are young, they struggle in school because they are figuring out how to relate to different types of people (usually from non-verbal cues) and then communicate with the different types of people. If they don't have social awareness, there are typically outbursts of crying, frustration and isolation. 

    What skills are associated with social-awareness?
    - Perspective, which involves the ability to look at a situation and understand ti from other points of views.
    - Empathy, defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of others.
    - Respect for others, which is viewing the world with an open mind and treat others with kindness rather than prejudging.
    empathy emotional intelligence
    Social awareness is absolutely something that can and SHOULD be learned. We've all been told over and over....listen to others more than you speak or think about what to say next! So to put social awareness into practice, I recommend not talking over someone or try to hijack the agenda. Ask questions! Questions are a great way to understand another person and let's down the walls. 
    So, as a leader, HOW important is emotional intelligence?
    Recent studies from Positive Psychology have shown that leaders with "emotional clarity and awareness are better at handling stress than others. Especially in the workplace, stress and burnout causes a marked degradation in our overall emotional capabilities and influence the way we respond to them".
    People who have achieved great professional success don't get that success by just being good at their job. Most of that success is the byproduct of their emotional and self-awareness. 
    So let's, as leaders and professionals, reduce our stress by remembering that emotional intelligence gives us the chance to advance as a human and prosper as a leader. It's something we need to put our efforts in consistently as leaders in order to bring success within ourselves, organizations and teams. You got this!