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Earlier this year we published a whitepaper on Emotional Intelligence (EI), in it we cited research that had found that 90% of top performers have high EI. Additionally, it was found that EI is responsible for 58% of job performance. For leaders, then, Emotional Intelligence is a must.
There are 2 aspects of Emotional Intelligence: Self and Social and within each of these there are 2 further elements: Awareness and Management, resulting in 4 clear dimensions. Here I will look at the first two of these Self Awareness and Self Management, moving onto Social Awareness and Social Management in my next post.
This is an in-depth understanding of our own preferences, biases and emotions and of the way these influence and dictate our own decisions and behaviour. This information is (by definition of it being about ourselves) readily available to us, however, most of us leave it sitting undisturbed in our subconscious. Emotional Intelligence requires us to access this information; to move it into our consciousness.
Think of a leader you’ve worked with who had poor self-awareness, how did working with that leader make you feel?. Typically, they will speak first, think later; make decisions that serve their own interests, rather than considering others; do not like to be questioned; fail to seek (and/or react badly to feedback) and have no understanding of how their actions and behaviours affect others. Whilst this may be the extreme, there are plenty of well-meaning leaders out there who lack a basic understanding of how their actions affect others and who need to get more self-aware.
The problem for leaders who lack self-awareness is that they tend to also then lack the trust and respect of others, meaning they’re unable to engage, motivate and inspire a team (a primary responsibility of a leader!). Personal development is also a huge problem for leaders who lack self-awareness to any degree; if you have no awareness of the gaps in your own skills/capabilities, you cannot seek to improve them and, when it comes to working with your team on their development, they are unlikely to take guidance from someone who does not practice what they preach. (For more on how to increase self-awareness, see Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the best leader of them all?)
This is the application of self-awareness in governing our behaviour, ie; having moved the information about our selves into our consciousness (self awareness), we now need to use that information to ensure our actions and decisions are more effective.
A good way to think of self-management is that it allows you to respond, rather than react. Those who lack self-awareness react, they let their emotions shape their behaviours and decisions. Converseley, those who are self-aware and are able to apply that awareness to their actions and behaviours make more considered, informed decisions. By removing bias and prejudice, acknowledging your own personal feelings towards the matter and recognising how those feelings might lead you to a certain response, you can be more objective and make choices and decisions that produce more effective outcomes.
In my next post I’ll continue by looking at the Social dimensions of Emotional Intelligence and the impact they have on effective leadership. Read the next post.
Click here to find out more about our Emotional Intelligence Programme.