With workers still dealing with the stress and social isolation associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, companies worldwide are prioritizing employee mental health and well-being. But businesses will need to implement more than just expanded employee assistance programs to support workers during this challenging time. The focus on well-being must be accompanied by empathetic leadership. While traditional management skills are essential, a greater degree of emotional intelligence is necessary to nurture and motivate teams. And the good news is you can improve your emotional intelligence—if you’re willing to work at it.
Emotional intelligence means being vulnerable
Leaders are responsible for creating an authentic company culture. Be real. That means being candid about how difficult things are—especially given the current environment. Share your own personal concerns and thoughts. In times like these, your team needs to hear how you are on the same journey with them. Also, consider setting new expectations. Communicate to your team that it’s okay to see children on a video call from time to time or go off-screen during a Zoom meeting if needed. Employees need to understand that we’re all human and going through the same experience together.
Emotional Intelligence means being self-aware
At the core of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is the area where leaders typically spend the least time. We can work effectively with others only if we know ourselves well. One exercise is to spend a few minutes each morning writing down your thoughts before starting the workday. Practice tuning into your feelings. Are you feeling anxious, worried or angry? You don’t have to take any action. Just notice your state of mind. Then complete the same exercise at the end of the day. Also, try to understand how employees view you. Assess your strengths and where you need to improve. When you master self-awareness, you can observe your emotions rather than merely reacting to them.
Emotional intelligence means practicing empathy
Empathy has several components. It includes mental awareness (imagining you are the other person), communication (what you say and how you say it) and a physical aspect (observing tone and gestures). Try considering all of these as you interact with your team. Employees want managers who know and care about them as people, and they want to have conversations about life outside of work. Even just asking your team what assistance they need can go a long way in making them feel supported.
Emotional intelligence means communicating effectively
Failing to communicate effectively in the workplace leads to frustration and confusion among employees. Leaders who leverage emotional intelligence have a greater ability to influence, persuade, and connect with others. Effective communication can remove obstacles and encourage stronger workplace relationships. When employees understand their role and how they contribute to the overall mission, there is a sense of meaning and accomplishment. Effective communication also results in organizational alignment and a shared sense of purpose.
Emotional intelligence means being self-motivated
Self-motivation relates to internal drive. Emotionally intelligent individuals understand the deeper meaning of their goals and the self-motivation skills required to achieve them. In Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence, he identified four elements that make up motivation: our personal drive to improve, our commitment to the goals we set for ourselves, our readiness to act on opportunities that arise and our resilience. A primary requirement of leaders is the ability to motivate. But to lead by example, you must first motivate yourself. Once that’s been accomplished, you can then work to encourage others through the art of emotional intelligence.
Numerous studies have shown that what distinguishes exceptional leaders from average ones are emotional self-awareness and self-control. By harnessing the power of emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to enhance employee motivation and engagement, strengthen cooperation and increase performance. Rise to the challenge. Be the compassionate leader your employees need, and your entire organization will reap the rewards.