Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. It has also been defined as "the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to be discerning and use the information [determined] to guide thoughts and actions".
The five components of Emotional Intelligence at work are:
- Self Awareness - knowing ones emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values & goals, and their effect on others
- Self Regulation - controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions & impulses
- Motivation - being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement
- Empathy - considering others’ feelings especially when making decisions
- Social Skill - managing relationships to move people in desired directions…
So can emotional intelligence be learned? The short answer is yes! Whilst people will have within their ‘make up’ a predisposition for [say] empathy, people will use their experiences to better utilise this skill, and these experiences are enhanced by good and proper training.
Of course we can’t overlook the qualities traditionally associated with leadership, for example, intelligence, toughness, determination and vision. But these alone are not enough, as truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Notwithstanding, and it’s important to remember that smarts and technical competence are not irrelevant, in fact they do matter, however, as it seems, as a ‘threshold capability' (or entry level requirements) for executive positions.
Therefore we are finding that emotional intelligence is becoming the primary aspect of leadership…meaning that without it, a manager can have great training, is inclusive, has an analytical mind and has an endless supply of smart ideas, but still won't make a great leader!
However it would be unfair to say that good old fashioned IQ and technical ability are not an important part of good leadership. But without emotional intelligence, the manager is incomplete!
Previously emotional intelligence was considered a ‘nice-to-have’ in leadership, however now we realise emotional intelligence is a core component that leaders ‘need-to-have.’
Thankfully then, emotional intelligence can be learned and although the process is not easy and may take some time (i.e. commitment), the benefits that come from having a well-developed emotional intelligence, for both the individual and the organisation are definitely well worth the effort.