Emotions are an essential part of being human; they allow us to perceive what others are thinking, read social cues, and tailor our responses to others’ needs. Emotions can, of course, be either positive or negative in nature. Positive emotions include love, empathy, compassion, and joy. Negative emotions are such things as fear, jealousy, and anger. Of course, in some cases, you need negative emotions; if a tiger is coming at you, that fear response tells you something important! So, what exactly is emotional intelligence? Researchers John Mayer and Peter Salvoey were instrumental in developing this theory. According to Mayer and Salvoey, emotional intelligence or EI consists of four domains: perceiving emotions, using emotions to facilitate thought, understanding emotions, and managing emotions. EI refers to how good you are at recognizing and altering your own emotional responses, so your emotions work for you and not against you. Secondly, EI helps inform how effective you are at reading others’ feelings and adjusting your approach accordingly.
A strong understanding of emotional intelligence, whether conscious or intuitive, is critical to being a successful leader in your organization and having a successful life. Some individuals come hard-wired with this sort of mental framework, while others may have to build it piece by piece. However, even if you are already intensely self-aware, you can still improve your ability to use EI and lead more effectively. Leadership is often thought of as the ability to guide and influence others. Highly effective leaders will be able to inspire others to direct their efforts towards accomplishing the organization’s goals and mission. A high EI level will also help the leader be calm and confident in a crisis and give strength when facing a difficult situation.
A good leader will build and maintain personal relationships with their employees, colleagues, and friends. Effective interpersonal relationships establish critical qualities such as trust, respect, and credibility. These interpersonal connections make it more likely that the leader will inspire and motivate their team to go forward with passion and enthusiasm, pushing onwards to the desired outcome even when times are difficult. Human beings are socially and emotionally connected creatures; we need that connection to be at our best and to work well as part of a team. It is vital for us to feel valued, acknowledged, and respected. All of us have an innate desire to belong and to feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves. Leaders with a high level of EI tend to create environments of trust, commitment, and safety. In turn, these emotional connections can increase performance, stability, loyalty, and the quality of work output.