Using Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

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  • 0:03 Emotional Intelligence…
  • 0:41 Elements of Emotional…
  • 1:11 How EI Makes a Leader Great
  • 3:21 How to Make a Good Leader
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Millraney

Lisa has 27 years of experience treating speech, language, memory and swallowing disorders. She has a master's degree in speech pathology from Vanderbilt University.

Many times managers or leaders focus on the functional aspects of the job you do, as opposed to the emotional intelligence that drives the way you do your job. In this lesson, we discuss emotional intelligence and how it relates to leadership.

Emotional Intelligence Definition

Effective leadership is often the difference between success and failure in any endeavor. Whether running a business, making a political statement, or organizing a church yard sale, somebody has to take the lead and help others to do their best.

What, then, makes a good leader? The answer could be intellectual prowess or a specific set of skills relevant to the group's goal. But another answer is emotional intelligence, or EI. Emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive and manage emotions. This includes your own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Elements of Emotional Intelligence

The elements of emotional intelligence include:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to recognize your own emotions, abilities, and motives in various situations
  • Self-regulation: the ability to regulate your emotions and express feelings appropriately
  • Motivation: the desire to achieve a goal
  • Empathy: the ability to understand and share other people's emotions
  • Social skills: the ability to build rapport and win others' respect

How EI Makes a Leader Great

So, how do these skills help a leader do their job and support the people they lead? Let's follow Ross, a manager who uses his EI talents on a daily basis.

Ross is a self-aware leader. He is always thinking about his strengths and weaknesses in work situations. Ross knows that he has a tendency to take more risks than he should. This self-awareness encourages him to get feedback from his team so that he can consider all of the risks before making a big decision. Ross also supports other members of the staff by encouraging them to be more self-aware of their emotions, abilities, and motives in various situations.

Self-regulation in leadership is knowing how and when to express emotions. Ross may get frustrated at work, but he waits until he gets home to throw some old tennis shoes at the garage wall, and maybe even say a few choice words, to vent that frustration. If one of his employees swears loudly whenever they feel like it, even in front of customers, that's a crisis of self-regulation that Ross needs to address right away!

Everyone's motivation levels are different for various tasks and arise from their innermost being. Ross was a middle child and sometimes felt overlooked, so as he grew up, he developed a drive to prove he was as good as his siblings. He recognizes that other people's motivations are not the same, but he does his best to show them why every job in his office is important and worthy of their best work.

Empathy in a leader involves not just recognizing how others feel but using that knowledge effectively to help them and the group. One of Ross' best employees hasn't been herself lately. He knows, however, that she has recently taken her elderly mother into her home and can imagine how tiring and stressful that must be. He takes her aside to let her know he appreciates her efforts and ends up ordering her to take a couple of days off.

Finally, social skills are the glue that holds a group together under a leader's direction. By listening to his employees and expressing how much he values their ideas, Ross has won their respect and made a team that works well together and follows his lead.

How to Make a Good Leader

What if a leader wants to strengthen their EI skills? Is that even possible? It certainly is, and here are some ways:

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