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4 Leadership Skills That Increase Emotional Intelligence

It’s no secret. The most gifted leaders in the world understand the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. They recognize how integral it is in establishing a climate where employees feel excited, respected, and empowered. That’s why top-performing executives make cultivating emotional intelligence a priority.

After years of trial and error, I have identified four leadership skills that will help you increase your emotional intelligence and build a winning team. When you optimize these skills, you reenergize your organization with a wave of positive energy while inspiring your employees to perform at their best.

Let’s get started.   

  1. Seek self-improvement
    Building a winning team starts with you, the leader. Employees look to your example, and by having the self-awareness to correct your deficiencies, you spark a growth mindset across your team. Your team members follow the leader.But it’s not as easy as it sounds. We all have egos and imperfections; it’s part of being human. The good news is that by subduing our egos and identifying our problem-areas, we can design a plan to improve and become a more well-rounded leader.

    One method to rapidly rectify your trouble areas is to conduct a three-sixty review starting with your employees’ opinions of you. Have your employees provide honest, candid feedback about your flaws. This inventory can hurt but is the most effective because you understand how your team perceives you. With the data obtained, you can create a corrective action plan and prioritize which flaws to correct first. This process will make you an influential leader, but more importantly, change your life for the better.
    Key Points:
    # Seeking self-improvement is key to your team’s growth mindset.
    #
    For optimal data, analyze your imperfections by using a three-sixty review.
    #
    Prioritize your problem-areas and fix them.
      

  2. Be approachable
    Being approachable is the best way to gain insight into your workplace culture. It opens communication and allows critical feedback to flow from your employees to your awareness.
    This information is useful in steering the climate towards positivity and respect. Conversely, if you are unapproachable, you block the information stream because your employees seek to avoid you. They become averse to confrontation. Therefore, you must set the conditions for your team to share their ideas with you.

    Here are three easy practices to become more approachable.

    Firstly, learn the names of your people.
    This idea sounds like common sense, but it is often under-utilized, especially when you have thousands of employees. Nevertheless, a little preparation goes a long way. Here’s a tip. If you know you are making your way to a particular department, study the sections’ employee profiles and be ready to call them by name. By learning your employees’ names, you show them courtesy, and being approachable begins with this type of respect.
    Secondly, encourage feedback.
    If you fly off the handle because your team leads bring you bad news, you discourage managers from bringing you any information at all. Work on self-control by regulating your emotions and be prepared for the worst. One best practice is to role-play worst-case scenarios and how you respond to them. In time, your composure will be the trait mid-level leaders emulate across your organization and create an environment where people bring you both good and bad news.
    Thirdly, maintain an open-door policy with the key leaders working directly for you. They need to have access to your mind to best make decisions for the organization in times of chaos. Allowing them to come in for a short synchronization-meeting provides them a chance to obtain your guidance. This technique is empowering because your team feels safe to speak with you during unscheduled times.

    Key Points:
    # Learning the names of your employees is worth the investment.
    #
    Encourage feedback; even if you receive bad news, your employees emulate you.

    # Maintain an open-door policy; your people need to get insight as to how you make decisions.

  3. Sincerely Listen
    People tend to think lecturing is the best method to get our points across when we communicate.

    Wrong.

    It may seem counter-intuitive, but sincerely listening to your employees’ talking points can be the direct link you needed to establish to get your message across. As a leader, if you speak over people, they shut down and tune you out because they feel you minimize their thoughts’ value. In contrast, when you listen with sincerity, you afford them the chance to express themselves, and they become more receptive to your message. People listen more when they can voice their opinion about a subject.

    Here’s a great tip to help reflect a sincere interest in what your team members are saying. Recite your employees’ sentence instead of relying on a pet word like “uh-huh.” This technique demonstrates that you are actively paying attention.

    Here’s an example. Which one do you find more engaging?

    John Doe: The data indicates our marketing strategy has tumbled down the slope and below the baseline.
    You: Uh-huh?
    Or.
    John Doe: We are going to take a loss for the next fiscal quarter.
    You: We are going to take a loss the next fiscal quarter?
    You get it. With a simple reflection of your employee’s words, you underscore your concern.
    Key Points:
    # People listen more when they engage and can voice their thoughts about a subject.
    #
    Replace pet words like “uh-huh” by repeating the sentence your employee just said.

  4. Coach Regularly
    Start a coaching session by pointing out the best in your employees. By doing so, you set a positive mood that carries throughout the session. And the mentee becomes more receptive to follow-on feedback. Seeing the best in people also serves to positively reinforce the behaviors you want to see more of in your employees.

    But coaching isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. You are also responsible for identifying performance gaps and correcting them. You achieve this by assessing your team members’ performance and contrasting what they accomplished against their assigned task list. Next, use that data to create an outcome to eliminate the employee’s performance gap. Remember, if you wait for an employees’ annual performance evaluation to coach or mentor, you are too late.

    I recommend coaching your team members as soon and as much as possible. Bring them in regularly, discuss what they do well and their performance gaps, and listen more than you speak. The objective is to guide them to the answer, allow them the creative space to find their personalized solutions. Ultimately, they will be more eager to rectify the problem because they had a role in the process.

    In summation, you now possess the key to unlocking the potential of these four leadership skills. And best of all, by continuously improving, you will establish a winning culture and coach your team members like the most gifted, emotionally intelligent leaders in the world.
    Key Points:
    # Start your coaching sessions by pointing out the best in people; it sets a positive tone, and employees are more receptive to follow on feedback. 
    # Don’t wait until the annual performance evaluation to coach your team.
    #
    Listen more than you speak during the coaching session; instead, have your employees tell you how they will rectify their performance gaps.


Written by Ernest R. Twigg. Have you read?
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Ernest R. Twigg
Ernest R. Twigg is an award-winning senior executive advisor, author, and speaker at 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. He leads 850 employees and has consulted c-suites across industries to unleash the leadership potential in their employees. Ernest's insight is sought after and is codified in his book "A Leader Provides" and various magazine articles that transcribes military leadership into private-sector gains. Ernest lives in California, where he spends his days playing chess and studying human performance, neuroscience, and leadership. Ernest R. Twigg is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.