What makes a good leader? Having knowledge, talent and vision is a great start, but there’s much more.
Companies are putting a premium nowadays on a particular job skill: Emotional intelligence (EQ)—the ability to manage your emotions and others’ and respond appropriately. EQ distinguishes the best leaders, and studies suggest that the skill is becoming invaluable:
- Those with above average EQ are 43 times as likely to be “high performers,” reports Six Seconds’ 2016 “State of the Heart” study
- 90% of top performers are high in EQ, according to research conducted by TalentSmart
- 71% of hiring managers value EQ in an employee over IQ, in a Career Builder survey
- By 2020, EQ will be one of the top 10 job skills, predicts the 2016 World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.
The intangible nature of EQ makes it difficult to comprehend your own, but it is a measurable component and many companies offer assessments.
You have other routes as well. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of the bestseller Emotional Intelligence, has devoted his career to the topic, while the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (born at Google with a popular course given to employees in 2007) offers EQ programs nationwide.
Traits of a Person with a High EQ (and How to Develop Yours)
EQ can be developed and improved upon in the workplace with practice. To raise yours, start incorporating these traits into the workplace:
Self-awareness: An ability to perceive your moods and emotions (and how these impact others). Self-awareness is the foundation of personal growth and success. If you’re self-aware, you have a realistic assessment of yourself, your thoughts and your behaviors.EQ in action: Practice noticing how you feel throughout the workday. Put your thoughts and feelings down on paper. By doing this, it will help put things into perspective for you. This will help you become more aware of who you are, what you need and why.
Motivation: A passion for your work beyond status or income. Motivated people can more easily move past failure and are committed to their company, no matter what challenges are ahead of them. Although optimism is often a trait you’re born with, you can improve your level of optimism by making a conscious decision to change your thoughts and words.
EQ in action: Catch yourself speaking negatively and consciously rethink your thoughts and words to make them more positive. When you recognize that others are more drawn to positive, energized people, you’ll soon realize how important this quality is to master. As you improve, you’ll start to notice that clients and colleagues will be more drawn to you.
Empathy: An ability to understand others. Empathy is an extremely powerful and essential trait, when it comes to EQ. Empathetic leaders have the ability to identify with and understand the feelings and viewpoints of those around them. They are able to listen well and avoid judging too quickly. When people feel heard, they tend to be more willing to cooperate and/or compromise.
EQ in action: Try to view a situation from a team member’s point of view. Listen carefully and welcome any questions. This builds trust and allows an employee to focus more closely on the task at hand, rather than focusing on what co-workers are doing.
Once you begin to practice these four traits on a regular basis, they’ll soon become habits. You’ll soon start developing a strong EQ—a much-in-demand quality for career success.