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Emotional Intelligence: A Fundamental Element of Leadership

Great leaders can come from anywhere, and be anyone, but they all share one important thing in common, and that is their ability to relate with other people. 

Having good social graces is something that I think we should all aspire towards, and this is where great leaders thrive. They are able to energize and motivate their people and their followers. They are able to create a connection, and this is why a leader who understands the importance of emotional intelligence will often have a considerable advantage. Remember that a leader without followers by definition is not a leader. And when it comes to finding your followers, or building your team, a huge part of your long term success depends on how you treat your people. 

If you think about all the time and money that can go into the recruitment, selection, and hiring processes, you’d want the ones that you actually do hire to stay with the team for a long time, right?

In these kinds of situations, emotional intelligence is an essential skill where you can foster loyalty based on how, as a leader, you interact with and treat your people. A good leader is able to inspire and motivate their team, while also being able to effectively communicate their vision to everyone. Great leaders can make their people not want to go anywhere else.

So what is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is defined as “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”

Increasing your emotional intelligence means increasing your emotional awareness of both yourself and others. Emotional intelligence is also an integral factor in achieving group harmony, as you have to understand that everyone has their own opinions and feelings, and will often express these in different ways. 

I'm sure we've always known that people are just wired differently, and that's not even a bad thing, because that means that everybody has their own strengths, skills, and emotions. What works for Bill doesn't work for Tom, what works for Tom doesn't work for John, and on and on. 

But the thing is, the best leaders are able to inspire them all.

For example, if a member of your team is acting distant, rude, or otherwise non-cooperative, you should use your emotional intelligence skills to try to understand the underlying motives behind their behaviours, instead of just writing them off as not being ‘team players’. Leaders need to recognize that there are many reasons why people can act like that, ranging anywhere from personality, to stress, to feeling ignored, just to name a few.

At its core, emotional intelligence is about having an awareness of the feelings of yourself and others, and being able to build a sense of understanding to promote group harmony and teamwork in the face of whatever differences we may have. This may include having to adapt your leadership style to certain situations and people, but in the end it is all about how to best connect with and inspire your people.