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Emotional Intelligence: The Key Skill for Leaders in 2021

ICC March 16, 2021 0 Comments

By: Shawna Simcik

Emotional Intelligence: The Key Skill for Leaders in 2021

We hear it all the time: The importance of emotional intelligence. While the workforce is still dealing with the stress and social isolation associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to recognize and manage emotions and the emotions of others is more important than ever. According to the ICC Workforce Trends Survey of 2020, emotional intelligence otherwise referred to as EQ, is among several must-have skills that leaders must possess in 2021 to succeed.

So, what is emotional intelligence?

The concept of emotional intelligence is relatively recent. Originating in the mid-1990s, Daniel Goleman published research after seeking to understand why some people succeed despite relatively low IQ scores and why others with high IQ scores were not measured as successful in life and business. They coined EQ and specifically defined it as “the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions, and those of others."

The basis of the research centers around five fundamental areas; Goleman divided these into personal skills and what he called social skills or interpersonal skills. The personal skills are self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. The social skills include empathy. Each of these, in turn, is broken down into more skill areas. For example, self-regulation includes self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation. Empathy contains five skills, including understanding others and political awareness.

Fundamentally, self-awareness is about understanding yourself and your emotions. Self-regulation is about mastering those emotions, and motivation is your drive to succeed. Empathy is about understanding others’ needs, and finally, social skills are about how you use all these insights to interact successfully with others.

2020 has highlighted many never-before-seen challenges that organizations have been forced to adapt to in real-time, causing leaders to reevaluate how they interact with others (especially with the shift to virtual work).

It’s been critical for leaders to acknowledge the emotional complexities of such uncertain times and actively integrate emotional intelligence within their personal interactions by identifying, articulating, and anticipating others’ emotional responses and needs during these stressful times.

Emotional intelligence isn’t going away. If anything, recent events have forever changed what we need and expect of our leaders. While traditional management skills are still essential, a greater degree of emotional intelligence is necessary to nurture and motivate individuals and teams. The good news – you can improve and develop this skill. If you are looking for ways to develop your manager’s or leader’s emotional intelligence, give us a call and explore the Applying Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Accelerator™ Learning Path.

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