Why emotional intelligence is Important for workplace engagement

Companies want to hire C-suite members who are high on EQ

No employee wants to work for a cranky boss who keeps throwing his tantrums at the team now and then. Leaders who cannot understand their own emotions and how they can impact people around them can lead to a toxic and hostile environment among team members. In turn, employees’ engagement level goes down which can impact performance, and as the worst case scenario, they might start looking for opportunities outside.

A leader’s ability to understand his own emotions and the emotions of others plays a crucial role at the workplace. This skill is known as emotional intelligence (EI) and is measured by emotional quotient (EQ) in human beings. 

The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ was coined by Daniel Goleman, a renowned psychologist in 1995 when he wrote the book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.’ This led many researchers to understand the impact of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Studies have concluded that organizations that have leaders who are high on EQ, give way to better performance and engagement in employees.

Customer-facing roles are known to be highly stressful. At times, frontline teams are required to deal with a high voltage of negative emotions from customers. This can impact the frontline teams leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. In such situations, a leader who is high on EQ will have the ability to understand the emotional turmoil dwelling inside an employee. This is known as empathizing with others. Being empathetic is one of the qualities a person with a high EQ possesses. The employees may not share their difficulties with others at work. But a leader who is high on EQ can understand the emotions of the employee through their level of energy and hold appropriate conversations. On the other hand, a manager who is low on EQ may lack empathizing with his/her team members and the situation may just keep building on, leading to burnout. Having leaders who are high on EQ leads to a highly engaged workforce as employees and team members feel valued as they are heard and cared for by their leaders.

We should not be surprised to know that companies are looking for C-Suit talent which is high on EQ. A recent Harvard research has established that more and more companies are now looking for C-suit members who are high on social skills i.e. leaders who are high on social awareness and can understand the feeling and thinking of others. After analyzing more than 5,000 job descriptions between 2000 and 2017, the researchers concluded that companies are now giving less importance to operational skills such as managing financials and material resources and want leaders with better self-awareness, listening skills, and the ability to understand people and their feelings. Moreover, the above findings also say that more jobs have emerged which give higher importance to the EQ level of an individual.

How can organizations train their leaders to be high on EQ

People management is an important aspect of any leadership style. After all, people management is about dealing with emotions and hence, leaders need to be high on EQ. As per Goleman, emotional intelligence is made up of five major components such as self-awareness, empathy, motivation, social skills, and self-regulation. Leaders will have to train themselves in all these departments to improve their EQ.

Mindfulness practices

Developing self-awareness i.e. understanding the emotions of oneself and how we react to situations in real time, is the first step to developing one’s EQ. Though it takes years of practice, mindfulness exercises allow people to notice their emotional triggers. Mindfulness practices help in understanding the emotional, mental, and physical reality of an individual.

Spending time with marginalized groups

Leaders should spend time with employees who come from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds to enhance social awareness and empathy. They should listen to their stories, struggles, and challenges. This will help them understand and value the differences in human beings. Moreover, reading on anti-racism and diverse cultures also educate leaders to be more empathetic.

Set goals and save time

Being a leader, you will have to set goals and be disciplined to achieve those goals in time. Setting long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals for yourself is important to track progress. Moreover, managing your time effectively to utilize your day helps you achieve your goals. Try not over committing to certain engagements such as meetings and events. Achieving tasks will help you to be more motivated, hence enhancing your EQ level.

Effectively manage relationships

Managing relationships and handling the emotions of others is a key element of social skills. Giving constructive feedback effectively and being courteous with others helps in managing relationships better. Though relationship building and management is a tricky task, constantly working on oneself through honest feedback works in the long term to develop social skills.

Avoid being impulsive

Often we make decisions hastily when we go through an emotional uphill. For instance, when we are angry. Rather it is better to slow down and reflect on how our emotions and decisions can impact people around us before taking a call. A good practice is to note down the trigger points of our negative emotions and give a thought about how things could have been done differently. This allows us to self-regulate ourselves in a better way.

Being high on EQ is not just a leader’s responsibility. Going forward, companies can re-invent their hiring techniques and assessment to hire people who are high on EQ. Companies can work on identifying what are some roles which require an individual to be high on EQ. This can further lead to better collaboration, team building, and engagement at work.