Have you ever wondered if there is one trait every leader needs to have? What skill is most important to successful leadership? Or what quality the world’s best leaders have in common?
Confidence? Passion? Humility? Innovation? While these characteristics are definitely crucial to strong and effective leadership, they don’t singularly define the success of a leader.
Well, what does?
Emotional Intelligence, also known as EQ.
Without EQ, you could have the best training, the highest ability or the most experience in your field, but you still wouldn’t reach your potential as a leader.
EQ is commonly defined as the ability to recognise, understand and manage your emotions and those around you. But there’s much more to it.
It requires an individual to identify and adapt instinctual behaviour and attitudes to the context or situation they’re in. EQ influences your actions, the decisions you make, how you perceive others and how others perceive you.
It is the skill every leader needs to master because it places equal emphasis on your relationship to yourself and your relationship to others.
We can break down EQ through two competencies – personal and social skills.
The personal aspect of EQ – self-awareness and self-management – require an individual to not only be conscious of their attitude and emotions, but also understand why the emotions are present, how they can impact their behaviour and how to regulate them.
The social aspect of EQ – social awareness and interpersonal skills – involve the ability to adapt to your environment, understanding the causes and motives of others and successfully managing your relationships.
So, how is EQ important to leadership?
It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses
It stimulates continuous development
It boosts personal accountability
It encourages you to trust your instinct
It facilitates self-motivation and confidence
It affects stress and time management
It assists you in understanding the actions and attitudes of others
It mitigates conflicts and facilitates conflict resolution
It enhances communication and relationships with stakeholders
It maximises proactivity and productivity
It provides room for empathy
It impacts your focus and control
It alters how your team members or organisation perceives you
EQ is therefore critical to leadership as it ultimately influences your performance, how and why you make decisions, and your communication and negotiation style.