Organizational Culture & Values

4 emotional intelligence skills to enhance your problem-solving and decision-making

Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership

If you haven’t heard the term emotional intelligence before, chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “The fish rots from the head first.”

It’s a metaphor for a leader’s impact on an organization. It acknowledges that emotions are contagious, and the degree to which you can recognize how you and others feel, understand what triggers those emotions, and change emotions may determine your success as a leader.

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, leadership extends far beyond traditional managerial prowess. Today, it’s increasingly recognized that emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a pivotal role in effective leadership.

For CEOs who must navigate complexities, make sound decisions, and instill a positive culture, you must develop your emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a set of skills that can help you in different aspects of your job as a leader. Within EQ, 15 critical and emotional skills help you navigate four essential elements of leadership and life.

These four essential elements include:

  • Your ability to perceive and express yourself
  • Your ability to develop and maintain relationships
  • Your ability to cope with challenges
  • Your ability to solve problems and make decisions while emotions are present

As a leader, it’s crucial to be aware of and actively manage your emotional intelligence skills. Most of your waking hours are spent engaging in the activities mentioned. So, if you’re not skilled in these areas of EQ, you’re falling short of your full potential.

Many of the EQ skills have relationships with one another. Within those 15 skills of EQ, there are 54 combinations of these “EI imbalances.” For example, if you are a leader who is highly empathetic and less assertive, you may spend a lot of your time “understanding” your employees.

While there are many benefits to the skill of empathy, if you do not also use assertiveness to set expectations, the overuse of empathy may slow individual and organizational progress.

Conversely, if you use less assertiveness in a day relative to empathy, individuals may not think their voice matters and may just check out critical conversations.

Imagine how valuable it would be for all leaders to know about these combinations to better think about what skill they want to choose to reach a desired outcome.

4 emotional intelligence skills for effective leadership

When making a decision, you need to incorporate these four data-gathering skills into your emotional intelligence arsenal:

1. Emotional Self-Awareness

Recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions. This includes the ability to differentiate between subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on one’s own thoughts and actions and those of others

2. Empathy

Recognizing, understanding and appreciating how other people feel. Empathy involves articulating your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings.

3. Reality Testing

The capacity to remain objective by seeing things as they truly are. What is the obvious fact? This capacity involves recognizing when emotions or personal biases can cause one to be less objective.

4. Impulse Control

Delaying an impulse to act. Your impulse control determines how much time you might spend gathering your data. Low impulse control may lead to rash decision-making. High impulse control may lead to taking too long to decide.

How to use these skills to solve problems and make decisions

Try this exercise the next time you’re facing a major decision or trying to solve a problem and you need to ensure that all facets of the issue are considered before making your choice.

First, write down the problem you have to solve or the decision you have to make. Describe it in as much detail as possible. For example, “How do I decide if this merger is right for us?”

Then create 3 buckets underneath the challenge: Emotional self-awareness, Empathy and Reality testing.

Write down how each bucket plays into your decision or problem, beginning with “How do I…?” (i.e. How do I use emotional self-awareness in solving this challenge?)

The ripple effect of emotional intelligence

Remember, emotional intelligence is critical for exceptional leadership. People look to their leaders for clues as to their level of “psychological safety” within an organization or a team.

If you can deploy these 15 skills effectively, the ripple effect on the organization will impact performance in a positive direction. Leading with these EQ skills can result in enhanced emotional well-being, less stress, more effective teams, and more personal and professional success.

If you fail to use your EQ effectively, the ripple effect on others can facilitate confusion, anxiety, stress and disengagement. As CEOs, your ability to harness emotions inspires and drives success, so use EQ to transform and redefine your leadership.

Want to learn more? Then be sure to register for Heather’s discussion, Harnessing the Power of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, which includes a facilitated Q&A session with Vistage Chair Lynne King Smith.

Related Resources

Why emotional intelligence for leaders matters

10 top leadership skills for your frontline managers

Category : Organizational Culture & Values

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About the Author: Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson has been a Vistage speaker and Vistage Chair for 20 years. She followed in the footsteps of her father who is a Vistage Chair Emeritus having served in Vistage for 25 years. She believes wholeheartedly in the purpose and

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