Emotional Intelligence – A Little-Known Skill for Better Team Management
The Miscommunication Problem
We’ve all been there. You’re working with your cross-functional team spanning multiple departments and interests, while a huge, seemingly life-changing deadline looms over your immediate future.
At one point, a frustrated Susan calls out Jeff for not following directions, in desperation, he replies: “But I did exactly what you asked!”
“No,” Susan says. “I told you to write a report capturing the future potential of…”
As they go back and forth, voices become raised, and tension escalates. The team’s attention moves further away from the actual problem when one colleague steps in.
Laura rephrases the task to Jeff, explaining the situation in a way he understands. She then turns to Susan, and calmly explains why Jeff might have misunderstood her instructions, which had seemed clear to Susan.
When Laura puts it this way, the combative parties deflate, and chalk it up to a miscommunication.
How was Laura able to so easily see what Jeff and Susan could not? And how can we avoid common disagreements like this in the future?
The answer to both questions lies in the under-reported, industry-blind field of Emotional Intelligence.
A Hirable Trait
Emotional Intelligence (EI) represents a growing area of study that holds tremendous potential impact on the workplace. As the business world shrinks and teams reach new levels of diversity, those who can communicate and manage relationships effectively become even more vital. Those with high emotional intelligence are experts in this realm, which more-and-more, managers recognize as critically important.
In fact, a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 71% of hiring managers valued an employee’s EI over their IQ. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they’d be more likely to promote an employee with higher emotional intelligence over someone with higher IQ. With so much of an employee’s future potential riding on EI, we need to educate ourselves on this soft skill that manifests itself in our daily lives.
What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?
Simply stated, emotional intelligence is the ability of an individual to understand their own feelings and emotions. However simple it may sound, EI is anything but, because it involves understanding the complexities of emotions and human motivation. We will cover the five core components of EI, as determined by Psychologist Daniel Goleman, to provide a clearer definition.
The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence
- Personal Purpose – having the vision to pursue one’s own goals with energy and creativity. Internally motivated people regularly show dedication and generate high quality work.
- Self-Awareness – the ability to understand your own moods and how that affects others around you. Being self-aware means intimately understanding your own personal value while maintaining humility.
- Self-Regulation – the ability to control certain impulses and moods. In heated situations, those with strong self-regulation can take a step back, breathe, and think before they speak. This predictable stability brings comfort to others around them.
- Empathy – the ability to understand what others are thinking and feeling. Empathic leaders manage teams superbly because they understand their teammates, and how best to communicate with each unique individual.
- Social Skills – the ability to manage relationships and build rapport. Those with strong social skills understand the intricacies of social situations, and easily pick up on the moods of a group.
When you cross multiple functions, as Business Relationship Managers regularly do, teams become ever more complex with everyone bringing their own perspectives and perceptions to the table. Emotional intelligence enables you to understand each person while simultaneously enhancing the value-contributions of the team.
Moreover, people with higher EI are often more self-motivated and happier in general. Keep an eye out for the next article in this series, which will cover the many benefits of emotional intelligence and how you can achieve it.