How emotionally intelligent are you? In other words, how well are you able to identify and empathize with how those around you might be feeling? How well can you pinpoint and control your own emotions from day to day?
Emotional intelligence is a fairly simple concept, on the surface. It is a measure of how well someone grapples with emotions, both their own and those of the people that surround them.
When it comes to leadership, however, emotional intelligence takes on a much deeper meaning. How emotionally intelligent you are can determine how well you are able to interact with others, make decisions and provide a healthy working environment for those you might be in charge of leading.
Here is why a high emotional intelligence is beneficial for effective leaders, and a test to help you decide if you are fit to lead a team or organization.
The perks of high emotional intelligence
The same way a higher IQ makes it easier for someone to solve complex problems and tap into their critical thinking skills, someone with higher emotional intelligence is much better equipped to interact with others and respond appropriately to conflict.
Those who have high emotional intelligence are characteristically more able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. They are more capable of focusing on setting and achieving specific goals, but can also more effectively and efficiently adapt to change. Individuals with high emotional intelligence also tend to look at situations with a more positive outlook and can more easily say no to things they don’t think they can handle.
Why high emotional intelligence makes a good leader
With these characteristics and others at the forefront, it is no surprise that individuals with higher emotional intelligence make better leaders. There is a lot that goes into being a strong, effective leader, whether a person is leading a team of only several people or is the CEO of a major corporation. Being an effective leader requires a lot of emotional intelligence to juggle different responsibilities to those under their leadership simultaneously.
Good leaders are able to reflect on their own past and recent performances and evaluate the quality of their work. They can then use this self-evaluation to make small changes in their behavior and demeanor, as can those with high emotional intelligence. An effective leader will admit to and accept responsibility for a shortcoming or mistake, but they will also treat that mistake as a learning experience so as not to make a similar mistake in the future.
Both excel at building and maintaining relationships because they are more empathetic and willing to make an effort to understand and relate to others. They are much less likely to blame problems or mistakes on others, and will take the time to hear both sides of a story if there is a conflict before making any judgments.
Both effective leaders and individuals with high emotional intelligence are also more effective communicators. They are able to put their thoughts and feelings into words and effectively channel these messages to those within their team, company or organization who need to hear them.
Here’s how to test your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence isn’t necessarily a numerically measurable quantity, like IQ, but a short online test can give you a pretty good idea, just by answering the questions, of whether or not you might need to improve your emotional intelligence.
Take this short test to find out your emotional intelligence score. All you will need to do is answer a series of questions by rating your answers for each question on a scale between strongly agree and strongly disagree. The test will calculate a score out of 100 based on your responses. Anything above a 70, according to this test, means you have acceptable emotional intelligence.
How to improve your emotional intelligence and be a better leader
Just because someone has a lower level of emotional intelligence than expected does not mean they can’t improve it. If you scored lower than a 70 on the above test, and you are interested in improving your emotional intelligence, here are a few ways you can start to do that in order to become a more effective leader.
- Effective leaders listen. Pay attention to how you respond to the people around you. You might be the type of person to make judgments before hearing someone out or don’t take others’ opinions into consideration when discussing a major issue. Try improving your listening skills by remaining silent while someone is speaking to you, waiting until they’re finished before you respond. If it helps, you can mirror back a few phrases to make sure you understand what they mean.
- Effective leaders don’t blame others. Be mindful of your first thoughts when something goes wrong. There might be an underlying cause, but you should never point fingers at someone on the team you are in charge of. If you are the leader of a group, sometimes that might mean you will need to take responsibility for the bad things that happen. Remain positive and always focus on what the team or company, and you, can learn from it.
- Effective leaders know exactly why they do what they do. A good leader is not someone who patrols the office and makes decisions simply because they wear the leader hat. They are aware of exactly why they are in the position they are in and how that affects all parties involved. They have goals, and every decision they make must be in line with those goals. Take some time to be honest with yourself. You are in this for a reason.
Becoming more aware of your own emotions, as well as the emotions of those around you, can make you a better leader. It may even be able to give you the confidence to become a leader, if you aren’t one already.
Whether or not you are fit to lead has everything to do with how well you can relate to and work with people. So, back to the initial question: how emotionally intelligent are you, and how are you going to use that to build your future as a leader?