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Developing your emotional intelligence could improve your leadership skills

Question :

I have a problem that is holding my career back – I’m terrible with clients. I work in IT and have rapidly risen up the ranks over the last five years and am now second in command of a team. But I can’t see myself filling my manager’s shoes because I don’t deal with clients well. At meetings I feel like I say the wrong things and back at the office I find it difficult to hide my frustration in the face of clients’ constantly changing demands. In the future, I really want to be a manager who’s good at this side of the business. What can I do to improve? 

Posted by Ninefingers on Saturday, 14 Nov 2015

Comments :

With the changing demands of the workplace, roles which were traditionally internal-facing have now evolved to become more dynamic and demanding. Recognising that you need to work on your emotional intelligence is a good start and can help you find success.

The term “emotional intelligence” was coined in 1990 and defined as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”.

There are ways to improve your emotional intelligence. Firstly, develop self-awareness by consciously making a point to think before you speak, and reflect on your actions and responses regularly. Keep in mind that body language and non-verbal clues such as facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures can convey more than actual conversation.

You should also keep an open mind. When dealing with seemingly unwarranted demands from colleagues or clients, try to put yourself in their shoes. It may be a challenge, especially when one is strong-headed, but removing emotions from the equation, not taking it personally and being receptive can help strengthen a relationship.

It’s important to identify pressure points too. Certain situations may affect you more than others, so recognising them early will prevent you being caught off-guard. Planning action to deal with these situations will reduce stress and increase the possibility of a positive outcome.

By developing your emotional intelligence as a leader, you are more likely to gain support and respect from your team. With these skills, you are better placed to succeed. There should be people at your work who display a high level of emotional intelligence – seeing their reactions and learning from them can be a good start.

I recommend Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, as a good resource for some practical tips. It shares advice on how to win people to your way of thinking and become a leader people admire.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Controlling your emotions will boost your leadership skills.

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