Leading by Feel: The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership

Successful entrepreneurs distinguish themselves by more than just outperforming their rivals. In this article published by SME10X, Chirantan Joshi, National Director at Corporate Connections UAE shares how we can harness emotional intelligence to become better business leaders.

In the realm of business startups where success or failure is uncertain, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is often the difference between winning and losing, a successful and failed CEO. Nearly 99 percent of startups fail because they lack EQ in leadership, an attribute often underestimated by new founders and whose intrinsic worth becomes evident with time and experience.

The use of EQ can be a game changer as it helps founders not only survive but also thrive during turbulent times. Embracing this trait helps entrepreneurs build an enriched working environment, stronger team cohesion and retain investor trust thus propelling their startup’s journey.

EQ is the ability to understand one’s own emotions as well as understand, recognize and manage the emotions of others. If you don’t understand yourself, how can you be expected to understand anyone else? If you struggle with active listening, react with anger, or pass the blame down the hierarchy when projects don’t go as planned, these are signs that you lack EQ. As leaders set the tone of their organization, a lack of EQ in functioning can have far-reaching consequences such as frequent conflicts, misunderstandings between departments, lower employee engagement and a higher turnover rate. This can lead to dysfunction between teams and culminate in business losses.

Contrarily, an emotionally intelligent leader can better relate to others, resolve conflicts astutely, stay calm under pressure and lead organizations effectively.

‘When dealing with people, remember you aren’t dealing with creatures of logic, but emotion.’ A leader’s success is about growing the people within and the only way to win someone’s trust is to connect with them from the heart.’ – Dale Carnegie

So here are a few tips on how to embrace EQ into your leadership style:

Be highly self-aware:

The most successful leaders have a high level of self-awareness not just about themselves but also about others. They continually monitor their moves, introspect their actions and influence teams.

Leaders with high awareness tend to read and regulate their own emotions while intuitively gauging the emotions of others as well as the organization’s emotional state. Subconsciously they create an environment that emboldens employees and promotes trust. After all it’s only a positive and happy workspace that yields healthy returns.

Lead with empathy:

If you are only aware of yourself and not of others, you will be perceived as self-obsessed. On the other hand, if you are aware of yourself as well as how your actions impact others, you will turn into an empathetic leader. As you can understand and evaluate a situation from someone else’s point of view, you make people feel understood.

Unknowingly, employees bring their emotional baggage to work (personal life problems) but on the surface, they act and appear normal. As an empathetic leader, you need to tune into underlying emotions and sense energies to deal with different individuals on a daily basis. Leading with empathy shows you care, wins their trust and gets the most out of your teams.

Clear communication:

Great leaders know the importance of clear communication and they never make the mistake of assuming employees understand everything they say. Promote open communication and encourage employees to clarify any doubts before they start a project. Likewise, keep your doors open for additional direction in case of any hurdles during the project implementation phase.

Grasping motivations:

Everyone has their own style of working – the way they interact, prioritize or execute tasks. Understanding the way people operate and their motivations behind it is key to forging a balanced team, reducing friction between members and working smoothly along. When you understand people’s behavioural tendencies and preferences, you find it easier to manage them. This leads to better working relationships and in turn higher productivity.

Practice humility:

No employee wants to work for an egoistic boss with a know-it-all attitude and one who can’t admit when they make a mistake. If you find yourself falling into the infallible trap, then remember you are not God and to err is human. Your ability to admit a mistake or ask for help demonstrates strength. Also asking your employees for feedback to execute a project, suggestions for improvement and implementing their recommendations will reveal your humble side and win their respect in the long run.

Sniff out signals and connect the dots:

One component of EQ is ‘situation sensing’—the ability to read between lines and figure out what’s going on without being told. You develop this skill through jobs in which you’re exposed to a wide range of people and trace the motives behind their reactions.

As a leader, you need to facilitate people to get their jobs done by connecting the dots for them. Offer necessary support and guidance whenever your employees arrive at a crossroad situation to tunnel their way out. Of course, when things go haywire you back them up and take full responsibility.

By sharpening your EQ, you can turn into a great leader and influence and win across all your relationships be it organizational or personal.


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