A recent survey of 3,400 workers across 10 countries found that managers have a greater impact on employees’ mental health than their therapist or doctor—and a comparable effect as their partner or spouse. That’s a substantial weight for leaders to carry! Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence are better equipped to create a positive and supportive work environment, which can improve employee well-being and mental health.
Research has also shown that employees with emotionally intelligent managers are far more likely to stay at their jobs. This is a significant statistic, given the difficulty of finding good talent in the current labor market.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
So what is emotional intelligence (EI), and how can managers develop stronger EI? Daniel Goleman is a psychologist who coined the term “emotional intelligence” and has emphasized its importance in personal and professional success. According to Goleman, EI is a set of skills that help individuals recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Certain behaviors have been identified in leaders who display high EI, making them better people managers.
Four Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
In his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman identified four pillars or attributes of emotional intelligence, which are:
The first step in developing EI is self-awareness. Leaders should take time to reflect on their emotions and how they impact their behavior. This will involve paying attention to physical sensations, thoughts and emotions in different situations.
Once leaders are aware of their emotions, they can learn to manage them effectively. This involves developing skills such as mindfulness, stress management and self-control. Leaders should also practice active listening and be aware of their body language when interacting with team members.
- Social Awareness
Social awareness refers to the ability to understand and empathize with the emotions and perspectives of others, as well as to recognize and navigate social dynamics and norms.
- Relationship Management
Relationship management is an essential component of emotional intelligence. It involves using emotional intelligence skills to build and maintain positive relationships, resolve conflicts, and influence and inspire others to achieve common goals.
From Behavior to Action: How to Get The Best From Your Team
Emotionally intelligent leaders not only demonstrate the traits above but have also developed accompanying skills to motivate, engage and develop staff. These positive actions include:
- Embracing Empathy
Leaders who can put themselves in their team members’ shoes and understand their emotions and perspectives are likelier to motivate and engage their team. Leaders who listen and respond with empathy perform over 40% higher in decision-making.
- Communicating Clearly And Listen Actively
Effective communication is key to building trust and credibility with your team. Emotionally intelligent leaders communicate effectively to ensure everyone is on the same page and that their messages are clear, concise and well-received. They want to understand the employees’ perspectives and provide feedback clearly and respectfully.
Emotionally intelligent leaders actively listen to their team members and timely respond to their concerns, needs and feedback. This demonstrates that team members have been heard and their leader values and respects their input by taking the time to understand their perspective.
- Leading By Example
Practice what you preach by modeling emotionally intelligent behaviors. Be transparent, authentic and vulnerable when appropriate. Use mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning.
Goleman writes: “Humble leadership, sometimes referred to as ‘servant leadership,’ offers an alternative to the egotism that so often goes hand in hand with power, and enables leaders to make a positive difference in the lives of their team members.”
- Offering Encouragement And Support
Emotionally intelligent leaders help their team members grow and develop by offering encouragement and support and recognizing and rewarding their achievements. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can also recognize and address sources of stress and burnout in employees and provide support and resources to help manage this stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Creating A Positive Work Environment
A positive, supportive and psychologically safe work environment boosts team morale and motivation. Emotionally intelligent leaders work to create a culture where everyone feels valued and respected and has the opportunity to contribute.
While some individuals naturally possess emotional intelligence, others must put more conscious effort into developing the requisite skills to achieve EI. Either way, research has demonstrated that leaders with EI have more motivated and engaged teams. That should be motivation enough to self-reflect, adapt, and practice behaviors that will develop your emotional intelligence.
This blog was originally featured on Forbes.com and written by Broadleaf’s President and CEO, Lynne Marie Finn.