Secret Weapon: How to Strengthen the Most Valuable Job Skill

The greater your emotional intelligence, the better leader you'll be

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Although wiggling your nose as if you were on the TV set of “Bewitched” or clicking your heels three times like Dorothy of “The Wiz” won’t lend you prophetic abilities, tapping into your emotions might. Several studies have shown that emotional intelligence (EI), an ability to self-regulate and identify the emotions of oneself and others, could also predict workplace outcomes.

An extensive analysis led at Virginia Commonwealth University, “The Relation Between Emotional Intelligence and Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis,” showed that individuals with high EI made better workers. For managers or senior executives, high EI usually corresponds with a good job performance. For employees, it often leads to better decision-making abilities, job satisfaction and completion of goals. Managers who lack a good EI usually find great difficulty in social interactions and the nurturing of professional relationships.

Giving the idiom “trust your gut” new meaning, a group of researchers who published the study, “Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect,” found that trusting one’s emotions gave individuals a higher probability for accurately determining anything from  presidential nominees, lottery numbers and movements of the stock market.

The point? Emotions do matter. Dismissing them entirely can be detrimental to the workplace, hindering healthy interpersonal interactions and their positive outcomes.  Leaders with good EI gain the benefits of creating a harmonious work environment while boosting job performance among staff.

Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist, finds that there are five main domains that constitute EI. These domains can be learned or improved, and they include empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and social skills.

Leaders who are able to master each of these domains, excel with their social interactions and influence.

Empathy: Empathetic leaders can shift their perspective from various points to better understand other people. They are able to identify with the emotions and feelings of others, besides themselves. A bonus? Being a few steps ahead to finding possible reactions to multiple situations— before they transpire. Imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s role or “shoes.” Now, think about how you would react to certain actions you or someone else presents.

Motivation: What are the drivers that compel you to act? These drivers keep you interested and on course to fulfilling goals. Motivated leaders focus with an end goal in mind, while staying on track. Keep reminders (ie. notes, post-its, alarm alerts..etc) nearby, which describe the reasons why you’re working toward a set goal. In this way, you’ll never lose track of the meaning behind your efforts.

Self-regulate: Good leaders, managers and senior executives gage how they react in high stressful situations to themselves and others. Do they buckle under pressure and have  breakdowns? Sure. However, a person with high EI and control over their emotions can effectively find solutions and operate with clarity. When placed in less than favorable situations, give yourself a moment to assess the situation and calm your nerves. It’s true that we cannot control what happens in the workplace, but we can control how we react. Pause. Breathe. Take a moment. Act.

Social skills: Those who master social skills usually are great communicators. They know what to say to engage their peers and what not to say to offend them and create conflict. If speaking with other people doesn’t come naturally, place yourself in situations where you can practice. Communication is an art as much as it is a skill. Through practice, you’ll become better with time.

Self-awareness: Having a good understanding of your own emotions, improves your own social interactions. From self-awareness, you’re able to identify your own emotions and its effect among other people. You may boost your self-awareness by participating in activities like meditation or keeping a daily journal of how you feel.

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