Should All Managers Possess Emotional Intelligence?

August 6, 2015

The role of a manager is constantly evolving.

Gone are the days of the traditional manager who would yell at employees and expect them to be thankful for the jobs they hold.

Nowadays, people have more opportunities than ever to find new employment, which means that supervisors need to adjust their treatment of staff to lower employee turnover.

One of the most important skills that modern managers need to possess is emotional intelligence.

This is just another aspect of acumen, in addition to skills needed to do the job and a high IQ.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a term first brought about in articles by scientists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey in the 1990s. “The researchers defined emotional intelligence as the compilation of four kinds of skills: perceiving and expressing emotions, understanding emotions, using emotions, and managing emotions,” according to The Center for Association Leadership.

These works led to New York Times behavioural science columnist, Daniel Goleman, to develop five pillars of EI in books he published, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence.

In this article, we will explore the five pillars, and how they apply to emotional intelligence.

To be emotionally-intelligent, managers need to be:

Self-Aware – A modern manager needs to possess a very good understanding of her own behaviour towards herself and others. First, this means monitoring thoughts to discover strengths and weaknesses, and how they play out at the workplace. Second, this involves observing one’s own behavior towards others, and seeing how you react during happy or stressful situations. For example, do you yell easily when something goes wrong? Or, do you get very hurt and retreat when your staff doesn’t seem to listen to you?

Self-Regulating – Once you have mastered being aware of your thoughts and behaviours, you need to take it a step further and regulate them. Controlling your actions is easier than your thoughts, so start with that. Focus on any negative acts, such as yelling, judging, punishing, etc., and try to restructure them to be more understanding and positive. Then, try to reformulate any negative thoughts to be more positive and optimistic.

Motivated – An emotionally intelligent manager doesn’t just strive to get ahead in his career to earn more, but is enthusiastic and determined in every aspect of the job. He is not afraid to take risks and is not waived by any failures. His energetic mood and beliefs are shared with the employees, which, in turn, urges them to be ambitious and goal-oriented.

Empathetic – Supervisors in today’s world need to strongly consider their staff members, and be sympathetic to their needs. While work always comes first, and it is never the manager’s job to be their employees’ friend, it is important to value their needs and feeling. Take the time to learn about your staff’s personal life, and ask questions to show your concern. If you are aware of a hardship that is happening, express your feelings, and do what you can to help.

People Skills – Lastly, leaders need to possess strong people skills that make them comfortable to interact with employees, their own bosses, clients, and others on a daily basis. These managers don’t have a self-esteem that is too high to prevent them from conversing with their subordinates, or too low to be afraid to broach a sensitive topic with the boss. They are comfortable enough in their own skin to express their point of view in any setting.

Emotional intelligence is not something every individual possesses, but it is crucial for a leader to build in order to be effective. Work on these five pillars to improve your EI and build a better corporate culture.

Many thanks

Gavin Muge

Senior Trainer & Consultant

Mark Williams 3

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