Three simple steps to being a more emotionally intelligent leader

emotionally intelligent

We are in an emotional crisis. Rates of stress, anxiety and depression are climbing. The gap between business leaders and employees are at an all-time high. So, what are the most meaningful skills that leaders can bring to the table NOW to support their people best?

The single most important and effective thing a leader should focus on now is to actively develop their own Emotional Intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

EI is defined by the ability to recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. In essence, it’s understanding how emotions can drive our behaviour, influence decisions, and impact people – especially when we are under pressure.

1. Create a culture built on trust

Before COVID-19, we were already seeing a decline globally regarding trust in leadership. The pandemic sped up the impact of low-trust cultures and made the lack of confidence in business leadership an urgent issue.

It has never been more important to prioritise emotional connection and cultivate authentic workplace relationships.

Employees don’t trust their managers when they have no relationship with them. They need to feel supported and believe that their contribution is meaningful.

This can only happen when communication is frequent and expected.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Think of a time when you have experienced infrequent or formal communication with a boss. Perhaps it was an annual performance review, or worse – maybe you were called into an unexpected closed-door meeting. Did it cause you to feel stress or apprehension?

Don’t be the “Bad News Boss!”

If you communicate only when there is unpleasant news to deliver, it is likely that you will be personally associated with bad news, which can damage the way you are perceived by others and ruin your chances of having trusting workplace relationships.

Leaders must take the time to help their employees feel informed. It might be challenging to build the habit of frequent communication at first – and that is exactly what it is: a habit. Focus on small and consistent adjustments now and you are sure to see significant improvement to engagement levels and trust over time.

3. Develop your “proactive perception” skills

Ideally, proactive leadership is more effective than reactive management. However, with the pandemic, it’s understandable that leaders have been forced to reactively manage and there has been little, if any, opportunity to get on the front foot.

So, what is “proactive perception”?

Perception is the way in which something is understood or interpreted. By developing your ability to be proactively perceptive, you can anticipate how a message is likely to be received and it can help you feel more in control of the situation. If you see it coming, you have choices. If you don’t, you have a problem.