Emotional intelligence is proving to be more beneficial than intellectual intelligence in the workplace, and that’s great news for women leaders.
Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is an individual’s ability to identify, evaluate, control and express emotions. People with a high EQ typically make great leaders and team players because of their uncanny ability to understand, empathize, and easily connect with the people around them, and women are leading the pack when it comes to emotional intelligence.
It may seem like a stereotype, but in this case, we've seen the data. Women are more likely to possess this desirable characteristic as opposed to men, including the ability to sense when something is off with a friend or recognize an employee is feeling left out. Generally, women are often better equipped to handle situations where emotions are high at stake than men, due to differences in both physiology and socialization.
Speaking from experience working in several female-driven workplaces, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful being able (or unable) to relate to team members can be in keeping employees around, boosting office morale, and motivating teams to work toward bottom-line driving goals.
3 reasons workplaces desperately need emotionally intelligent leaders
1. High EQ leaders increase workplace happiness
Picture this: A content marketer walks into the office Monday morning tired from the weekend, but ready to tackle the work week. The content marketer’s boss does not greet or acknowledge her, and instead sends out a short, formal email outlining a project’s needs and deadline.
How do you think the content marketer feels? She isn’t being welcomed into the new work week, she doesn’t receive any face-to-face interaction, and she’s probably worried she did something wrong due to this cold and somewhat harsh greeting. The result: She spends most of her day head-down, unmotivated, and wondering why her boss isn’t providing a clear direction or face-to-face interaction.
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Now imagine this scene, instead: The content marketer walks into the office Monday morning and is immediately greeted by her boss, where they chat briefly about their weekends. The boss explains an upcoming project she would like help with, making it clear she wants the content marketer working on it as she trusts her judgement and expertise, and wraps up by welcoming any questions the content marketer may have. The content marketer is in a good mood, feels like everything is on track, and is now excited to work on the project. The result: She puts forth her best effort and produces great work.
Tuning into your employees’ needs and wants in the workplace is key to being an emotionally intelligent leader. Leaders with a high EQ know how to tailor their management style to each individual quickly after learning how each one works best.
2. High EQ leaders increase employees’ confidence
When you feel confident in the workplace, you produce better work because you believe in yourself and your skill sets. Confidence is rarely boosted on its own, but it explodes when it comes from someone else, especially someone you want to impress, like your supervisor.
Working as a talent director for a performing arts company in Chicago, I had to be on my A-game every second I was interviewing prospective models. My direct boss during my position there was so incredible because she knew how to build me up when I was feeling defeated. Her genuine belief in me was often times all I needed to put myself back together when I needed to.
An emotionally intelligent leader knows that her employees need consistent positive feedback in order to perform at their highest level. When a leader calls their employees into their office, the employee usually views this as a bad sign—that they screwed up on an assignment or are getting reprimanded for not following up with a client.
Emotionally intelligent leaders turn this dynamic around completely. They make time to meet one-on-one with their employees every week to go over their work, helping them understand why something was off if there was an issue, and offering words of motivation and encouragement. This not only keeps employees engaged with their work—it gives them the confidence they need to keep pushing ahead and improving in turn, increasing the bottom line by carrying out the company’s mission.
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3. Emotionally intelligent leaders make room for open communication
Last but not least, an emotionally intelligent leader makes their employees a priority, no matter what their day calls for or what pending problems are burning at the back of their minds. This type of leader makes sure team members feel appreciated, valued, and purpose-driven, every single day.
On days where I felt overwhelmed with responsibilities and sales quotas, knowing I could go to my at-the-time boss (who had an extremely high EQ) and vent about how I was feeling made the world of difference in both my mindset and ability to overcome the challenge at hand. In contrast, when I was in a position where I felt belittled by a manager with absolutely no emotional intelligence, my work would suffer because I was afraid to ask questions.
That being said, emotionally intelligent leaders make it very clear that their door is always open. And that goes for professional help, personal conflicts, and everything in between.
If employees feel genuinely supported by their leaders, a snowball effect occurs. They become happier people in the office, producing higher quality work and engaging with their fellow teammates. This self-enhancing phenomenon then carries over into employees’ personal lives, enriching and fulfilling every area that previously wasn’t seeing growth.
Put simply, big corporations and small businesses alike need leaders who are kind-hearted, and who view staff members as people instead of worker bees. Lucky for us, these are traits most women are equipped with, making us excellent candidates to move through the ranks and lead our businesses to success.
By Ashley Alt