How to manage with emotional intelligence

24 June 2019 -

Emotional intelligenceEmotional intelligence is an essential trait for effective managers. But like any skill, it can be developed

Essential learnings:

  • Be self-aware and control your own emotions
  • Spend time with your staff to develop your empathy
  • Follow the nine steps of conflict management

Emotional Intelligence can be split into five main elements, according to EQ pioneer Daniel Goleman, a science journalist who wrote the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Goleman established how emotional intelligence can be best used in the workplace, and devised assessments for measuring an individual’s emotional intelligence. Here’s how you can apply the five elements.

1. Self-awareness

As a qualified manager and CMI member, you should understand the impact of using self-awareness to facilitate results. “If you really want to develop as a leader, it’s that awareness of the impact that you have on other people,” says Talita Ferreira, former CFO of BMW UK, now CEO of Authentic Change Solutions. “That’s exactly what I didn’t understand [in my early management roles]. I needed to understand that I got the best out of other people through how I led them. It was me that needed to change, and not the other people.”

Melissa Sabella, CEO and founder of behavioural change company The Honeycomb Works, agrees that self-awareness is a crucial trait. She suggests the best way to develop this is to start open conversations with colleagues, stakeholders and superiors about how they perceive you. “Seek out people who will be honest with you, so you can get feedback and be open to receiving it.”

Self-awareness helps you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, manage with humility, and understand how your emotions can impact on other people. It allows you to put your own emotions aside and come up with solutions that will best benefit your team.

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is essentially about controlling your own emotions and being accountable for your own actions. As a CMI member, you should be able to reflect on your own abilities and behaviours using criteria set by yourself and others.

Jo Owen, author of The Mindset of Success, says that good leaders are demanding of both their teams and themselves, and don’t look for someone to blame when something goes wrong.

Applying self-regulation can be as simple as thinking before you act – giving yourself time to get your thoughts in order and avoid any emotional response that might be less than helpful. It also helps to know your values and ethics; think about what matters most to you, and how you want to be perceived.

Mindfulness techniques can also be useful to help you to regulate your emotional responses and approach difficult situations in a positive, solutions-focused way. Use deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself – get yourself into a fully relaxed position, close your eyes, and really focus on your breathing. Keep it slow and steady and avoid trying to fight your thoughts. Instead, let them pass, and go back to thinking about your breathing. Within about 10-15 minutes, your mind will start to feel clearer.

3. Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated, and they’re good at motivating others. You need to be able to understand people as individuals and tailor motivational actions accordingly.

“The best leaders are relentlessly positive,” says Jo Owen. “This stems from a deep commitment to their mission. Being positive does not mean saying ‘Have a nice day’ while quietly thinking ‘Please drop dead’. It means having complete belief that you will achieve your mission, seeing opportunities where others see problems. The best leaders are always driving action and looking to the future instead of analysing the past.”

Melissa Sabella says that a good way to develop your motivational skills is to remember that everyone on your team has the potential to be great. “Be wary of making assumptions about who your ‘star’ players are - give people trust, space, and support and you may be surprised by what they can do. It can be easy to overlook your quieter team members - recognise that people contribute in different ways and often the most valuable ways may not be the ones easiest to see.”

Make a real effort to understand your team members’ individual goals and what motivates them. This in part comes from understanding each individual’s talents and working styles. “We’re not all motivated by the same thing,” says Talita Ferreira. “I cannot tell you how many people have not got that yet. People hire people the same as them because they’re easier to manage, and no trouble for them. But they’re missing a huge trick. It’s not going to help your business or your team if you just hire clones of yourself. I’ll bet you there’s loads of skills missing in your team.”

4. Empathy

Melissa Sabella feels that empathy is the single most important trait a manager can have. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, which can give you insights into why someone might be underperforming, or where a team member could be nurtured.

If you’ve mastered motivating you’re team, you’re already developing empathy for your team. “Be genuinely interested in other people, ask a lot of questions about their goals, what they want to develop, what motivates them and why,” says Sabella. “And don’t forget to listen to the answers.”

Hearing what others think of you can also help develop empathy – Talita Ferreira started her journey to becoming a more empathetic manager when she found out a member of her team thought she was a terrible boss. “It was a huge shock. It was like a kick to the gut. I felt like that for weeks afterwards. It opened my mind to the fact that I needed to do more work on leadership. I’m very target-oriented, so I set myself some targets.”

The best way to develop your empathy is to practice; spend time speaking to your staff and really listening to what they have to say every day. Sara Konrath, psychologist at the University of Michigan, recommends you do this for 30 minutes each day. Use your knowledge as a CMI manager, deploying the correct coaching and mentoring skills with each individual to really engage with them.

5. Social skills

As an emotionally intelligent manager, you should be a great communicator. You should be able to communicate effectively in response to different audiences, situations and degrees of complexity. You need to be able to communicate bad news as much as good, and be able to manage conflicts and challenging situations. Conflict management techniques involve the following steps:

  1. Be aware of conflict
  2. Take a considered and rational approach to conflict
  3. Investigate the situation
  4. Decide how to tackle the conflict
  5. Let everyone have their say
  6. Identify options and agree on a way forward
  7. Implement what has been agreed
  8. Evaluate how things are going
  9. Consider preventative strategies for the future

Social skills, under Daniel Goleman’s system, also includes influencing skills. You should be demonstrating your influencing skills throughout the line of management. Be aware of what you will and won’t tolerate, says Melissa Sabella, and take steps to protect your team in a measured, balanced way. “Model the behaviour you want to see - if you don’t want a long hours culture, don’t work long hours. If you want collaboration, share your unfinished work and take on feedback about it.”

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