Why Senior Leadership Relies on Emotional Intelligence

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Why Senior Leadership Relies on Emotional Intelligence

When it comes to motivating people, leaders know that many factors can affect an individual’s performance on a daily basis. Emotion is a central fixture of human nature that everybody brings to the workplace in some capacity; sometimes, these emotions affect how well employees perform and can impact their fellow coworkers’ workplace experiences. Senior leaders can benefit from recognizing the value of emotions in professional settings, as understanding their own emotions and those of their employees can help them be more effective in leading their organizations.

Uncovering What Isn’t Being Said

In any organization, a great deal of responsibility falls on senior leaders and their ability to work with others. For this reason, leaders need a high emotional intelligence (EQ) to manage employees effectively and make a positive impact on their organization. This assists leaders in better managing workers based on their strengths and weaknesses because they can interpret or anticipate how an individual might react to a given situation. A leader with high EQ is a skillful communicator who is able to understand an employee’s intentions and observe if an employee is dissatisfied with his or her position, or reluctant to take on a certain task. With this insight, they are better equipped to address sensitive topics with employees and find solutions to problems that threaten to stall an employee’s progress.

Senior leaders with high EQ are better able to reduce stress and anxiety among workers, building morale as a way to elevate the performance of the entire team. Leaders with EQ are also equipped with the ability to identify talent, gaining insight into the strengths and growth potential of their employees. This allows them to leverage talent in a way that will be most advantageous to the success of the organization and nurture others who may have room to improve. Respecting employees and making them feel like they are an asset to the team benefits the organization as well as the individual, because they will be more productive and loyal to the company.

Identifying How Different Employees Are Motivated

Having motivated employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs is a key component of successful organizations. To wit, Google’s leadership has created an environment of motivated workers, fueling productivity and innovation by giving its employees the opportunity and freedom to create new ideas on their own during work hours. They do this by offering both extrinsic benefits—such as flex spending accounts, free food and an on-site car wash—along with assisting their employees in achieving intrinsic rewards, such as self-actualization and a sense of belonging. While understanding effective ways to motivate employees can be quite challenging, leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to discover what approaches certain employees might respond to best. For example, studies have shown that increasing the overall amount of pay an employee receives becomes less motivating once people reach a threshold where they can live comfortably. Some employees may be motivated by an opportunity to be the team leader, while others may have personal long-term goals they are working towards. It benefits leaders to develop relationships with their employees to understand what motivates them.

Senior leaders who grasp how to motivate their employees will see increased productivity and performance goals exceeded. To do this, leaders need to impart the importance of organizational goals, and help employees understand their individual roles in the company and how their hard work is valuable to the overall mission of the organization. If an employee is only interested in collecting a paycheck, a high EQ leader has the skills to encourage him or her to look at the bigger picture and explain that when organizational goals are met, everyone stands to benefit.

Facing Challenges and Dealing with Conflict

In any organization, beliefs and opinions about certain policies, strategies or procedures can vary widely. These differences often lead to disputes between employees or even among leaders across all levels in the organization and can stagnate progress and hurt productivity. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence realize that while conflict in the workplace is bound to occur, it can also have a positive impact on productivity and performance; some even believe it is absolutely essential for success. Conflict is essential for progress because it gives a voice to new ideas, helps eliminate unlikely solutions and leads to compromise and collaboration.

However, if not managed effectively, conflict can be detrimental to an organization; therefore, executive leaders must find ways to resolve workplace disputes and create positive momentum to help drive results and keep teams focused. Understanding and addressing all sides of a conflict is a great place to start. This requires active, attentive listening (another EQ-based skill) from the leader, acknowledging every point of view and taking visible steps to respond. Handling conflicts in this manner can build stronger, more cooperative relationships across the organization and lead to better outcomes, which is critical for senior leaders as they strive to ensure their companies grow to meet the ever-changing needs of their industry.

Knowing How Emotions Play into Negotiation

Reading emotional reactions when negotiating with others (internally, or with a potential partner organization) is a key tool for senior leaders. This aspect of emotional intelligence allows leaders to determine the things that are most important to a person or group in the context of negotiation, which can help them pursue more mutually beneficial outcomes. Whether conducting salary negotiations with employees, deciding on the most effective business strategy with other senior leaders or seeking support and financial backing from shareholders, negotiating with emotional intelligence provides greater results. Understanding the role of emotions in the negotiation process aids senior leaders in managing the personalities and desires of those involved to reach agreements that can profit the entire organization.

Emotional intelligence is an asset for senior leaders when building a strong organizational culture with enthusiastic employees motivated to follow their leaders and achieve desired organizational results. Finding ways to improve their EQ skills can give leaders greater insight and result in better decision making for reaching goals and increasing profitability.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Executive Leadership program offers an advanced level of graduate-level coursework that is designed to help address the specific challenges senior leaders regularly face. The program focuses on providing tools for enhancing one’s ability to leverage human capacity for strategic results and accomplishes this by taking a four-dimensional approach to leadership, with an emphasis on leading the self, leading others, leading organizations and leading in service.




https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4261205/ https://hbr.org/2015/04/how-emotional-intelligence-became-a-key-leadership-skill






October 2017