Climbing their career ladder, people often choose to be a superior over being a leader. It’s not that they see a big difference. They actually believe these are the same thing. So, presumably, when they are in charge, they will definitely lead. It never happens though if one doesn’t develop their leadership skills. Not to mention, that those neglecting such skills rarely get promoted. And if they do, they soon betray the trust of CEOs and co-workers. Today, emotional intelligence is considered one of the most important leadership skills that help you both at your workplace and in searching for a new job. It is a complex concept that includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. All of them are equally important both to be a well-rounded person and to make a successful leader.
When to Start Working on Your Emotional Intelligence?
It’s impossible to deny that all people are different. Some of us are more self-controlled than the others. A lot of people are patient, but many easily break down under pressure. Some make friends with no effort. Others can’t go further without praise. No matter who you are by nature, your emotional intelligence requires hard work on each of its aspects, even if you think that you’re fine. So, there is no better time to improve your emotional intelligence than now. Actually, it will be more true to state that you should never stop working on your emotional intelligence.
Know Your Strengths
Before you start improving anything, find out what you are already good at. There are a lot of tests and quizzes that can help you with that, both online and in the specialized literature that is dedicated to emotional intelligence. Besides, you can use brainstorming, free-writing, and self-observation. You can create something like a SWOT-analysis, massively used in the managerial sphere for improving business concepts, where you indicate your strengths (mentions of which can seriously improve your resume), weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It may look something like this:
- Strengths: empathy (I always listen to people and try to understand their feelings), social skills (I’m good at networking because I always try to find the common language with people and stay in touch)
- Weaknesses: self-awareness (I don’t feel mindful, forget a lot of things, and don’t always know why I feel this or that way. My mood often changes and I’m not sure I can influence it)
- Opportunities: motivation (I like to do what I’m doing, and this gives me the energy to go on)
- Threats: self-regulation (I’m easily irritated and can lose patience in a stressful situation)
Crack Down Your Weaknesses
Don’t focus on this stage of ‘praising yourself’ for too long. It’s time to start acting! Each component of emotional intelligence (fortunately) can be improved. It will not happen easily or quickly. But after some time, working on some good habits, and a day-after-day monitoring of each sphere, you’ll definitely see the difference! Here’s how you can act (depending on what you need to develop):
- Self-awareness: This comes from a great number of techniques. You can use ‘morning pages’ that are a type of free writing. After you wake up and before your brain gets loaded with the daily routine, write three pages of whatever comes to your mind.
- Self-regulation: If it’s hard for you to control yourself, one of the most powerful tools that can help you is taking some ‘quiet’ time. It can be a meditation or a pray. You can be washing your dishes with no outer interference, just listening to the water running! Plus, you have to work out the techniques of calming yourself quickly. When you feel you are about to lose it at work, go somewhere private and do ten rapid squats. You won’t feel as furious after that for sure!
- Motivation: Don’t follow superficial motivators, like money or being what others want you to be. The energy they give you won’t last long. Find out what really matters to you, reconsider your priorities and act according to a new plan.
- Empathy: Start loving and understanding people. Seriously. If you can’t, why would you want to lead them? It’s equally important to accept them the way they are. If it’s hard, try to get interested in the psychological science first and then in the individuals.
- Social skills: There are a lot of rich and successful (in a business sense) people, who live a secluded life because they prefer to do so. But this in no way means they can’t properly interact with people when needed. So, you should work persistently on your verbal communication skills and body language if it’s your weak point.
Finally, emotional intelligence is not just a requirement to make a good leader. It is a basis of the desire to become one. Knowing what you want and what others want from you (and from themselves) is the main tool for making others put their trust in you and the reason why you strive for it. Working on your emotional intelligence is both vital for current leaders and for the leaders-to-be.
Kevin Nelson started his career as a research analyst and has changed his sphere of activity to writing services and content marketing. Apart from writing, he spends a lot of time reading psychology and management literature searching for the keystones of motivation ideas. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter.