How to be an emotionally intelligent leader

Your team members will reflect and respond to what they see.

How to be an emotionally intelligent leader

Being a good team leader is much more than just being the most proficient in securing new clients, or the most knowledgeable in financial products and solutions. Now that you have team members looking to you for direction and guidance, there are certain softer, interpersonal skills you should hone to take your team to greater heights.

One powerful soft skill for leading a team is emotional intelligence. When conscientiously developed, emotional intelligence allows you to better understand each of your team members, leading to more relatable communications and a more effective workflow. In addition, emotional intelligence will enhance your interactions with clients and stakeholders.

Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is broadly defined as how an individual handles themselves and interacts with the people around them. This includes how a person manages and adjusts their behavior to navigate difficulties and nuances within a social setting. It also affects the personal decisions you make and the way you set your goals while taking other people into account.

To be emotionally intelligent, a leader must be skilled in the following areas:

  • Self-awareness requires a leader to acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. You need to recognize your emotions and how they can impact your team and clients.

  • Self-management is applying your awareness to be flexible and not give in to your impulses. Avoid knee-jerk reactions, especially when navigating stressful incidents. Reading the room is another important practice of emotionally intelligent leaders. 

  • Social awareness is the ability to pick up on other people‚Äôs emotions accurately to have a clear picture of what is going on, even if the team is not communicating their feelings verbally.

  • Relationship management requires a leader to use awareness of their own emotions and the emotions of others to manage, coach and inspire the team.

Some ways you can improve your emotional intelligence are by pausing to reflect before reacting, finding an outlet for your emotions and having a journal to keep your emotions in check. Subhas V. Nathan, a team leader from Singapore, encourages his team to practice expressing gratitude daily. New agents participate in a WhatsApp group chat nightly to reflect on something they achieved for the day and something they are grateful for. They also share something they need to improve upon, based on their self-reflection and evaluation. Nathan says this tactic allows his team to end the day positively and gives them an avenue to support each other. 

Focusing on your emotional intelligence takes time and practice, but it can make a huge impact on your team in the long run while setting the tone for your business and relationship with clients.