Understanding what makes yourself and others tick will make a significant improvement in your performance as well as your team and your business.
Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) is the ability to recognize, understand and manage people’s emotions. This includes understanding your own emotions as well as everyone you have to deal with to reach your goal.
Five Clever Steps to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
You must understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and goals.
Having good self-awareness in these areas will:
- improve your self-confidence
- ensure you have a realistic view of yourself.
Just as you spend time evaluating the performance of others it’s equally important to review your own. You should reflect on the situations when things went well as well as when those that didn’t go to plan. Work out what went wrong and why.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did I feel frustrated in that meeting?
- Why did I give in to that situation?
- Why do I take on too much?
- Why do I let deadlines slip?
- Why did I feel so bad?
Once you have identified ‘Why’, you can then start looking at ‘What’ you can improve to prevent it from happening again.
- What can I do to improve in this area?
- What can I do to prevent it from happening again?
Don’t be tempted to blame others for your actions. This is just an excuse. YOU are responsible for your actions, no-one else. You must focus on the real cause, within you.
‘Things are not always going to go your way – it’s a part of life, get used to it.’
Observing and understanding your emotions will also help to prevent negative emotions from building up and causing damage in the future.
2. Self-control and regulation
To be a great leader you must be able to control your internal disruptive emotions and impulses.
Leaders with a high level of self-control are:
- Comfortable with Change and Ambiguity.
You can’t know everything and you don’t need to. If you are trying to keep up with every detail and be the ‘great oracle’ who knows everything, you are doing it wrong. You must have confidence in yourself and your team. Having self-confidence will allow you to be humble, ask questions, and seek out new ideas.
Great leaders are comfortable with being honest with others, especially when they are not sure of the next step. It’s also an important motivator for your team – everyone likes to be listened to. It makes them feel valued and that they play an important role in the project.
To find the drive you need to achieve your goals you must be:
- passionate about your work
- always looking for new challenges
- optimistic even if faced with failure.
It can sometimes be difficult but you must have an endless amount of positive energy and face problems with a can-do attitude, even when the odds are stacked against you.
Setting and celebrating small goals will help you to maintain energy and enthusiasm in any task, however long. Give yourself a pat on the back for your achievements and then do the same for your team.
Being able to put yourself into the shoes of others by considering their feelings and emotional states is an important leadership trait.
Having a high level of empathy means that you:
- are good at finding and retaining talent
- support the development and growth of others
- are sensitive to the feelings of others.
To help you develop this you should think about:
- What do they like?
- What are their strengths?
- What areas do they find difficult or uncomfortable?
Spending a little time on this will help you to understand them better so that you can follow up with:
- What do they want?
- What can I do to help/support/develop them?
Clever leaders always look for ways to support and develop their teams.
When your team knows that you ‘have their back,’ even the most stubborn member will begin to change for the better.
5. Social skills
Having good social skills will help you:
- Develop, maintain and use relationships with others to direct them toward a common goal
- Motivate and enthuse others
- Be a good communicator
- Generate trust in others.
You must send a clear message to your team. Take care that you are not too deeply involved in your project and overcomplicate a task by explaining irrelevant parts.
Make sure you clearly state what is needed, to what level, and by when.
Always check that your message has got through correctly by asking them to explain what they are going to do and correct any errors as they repeat back to you what they understood.
Do Not simply ask them if they ‘understand’ what you have said.
This is most often a waste of time as many people will answer ‘yes’ even when they are unsure, or they think they do but their understanding is different from what you wanted.
If they do misunderstand, it’s not their fault, it’s yours for not making things clear enough.