3 Things You Can Do That'll Make You More Emotionally Intelligent

November 30, 2016

EQ is an essential skill of any leader.

The best leaders are emotionally intelligent, as emotional intelligence allows them to effectively influence, connect, engage and inspire others.

The problem is many of us lack emotional intelligence, or EQ. But the good news is that can change, leadership coach Sara Canaday said in her LinkedIn Learning course, Transition from Manager to Leader.

“While your IQ remains relatively stable, you can actually increase your EQ,” Canaday said in her course. “That means you can take action right now to help expand these leadership-boosting skills.”

But before you can improve your emotional intelligence, you need to understand what it is. Canaday said emotionally intelligent people are really good at these five things:

  • They understand their own emotions, and how those affect their decisions and behaviors.
  • They know how to read others, and how to respond in a way that recognizes their needs and concerns.
  • They are nonjudgmental listeners who go out of their way to consider other people’s points-of-view.
  • They are approachable, open and responsive.
  • They can tolerate high amounts of stress without losing their cool.

How can you acquire those five traits? Canaday suggested doing these three things:

1. Become more self-aware.

Having a strong EQ – i.e. the ability to read and react to others – starts with your ability to read and react yourself. And that happens by becoming more self-aware.

In her course, Canaday dedicates an entire lesson on how exactly you can become more self-aware. For example, you can request a 360-degree assessment, ask a boss or colleague for feedback or even craft your own anonymous online survey.

When surveying people about yourself, Canaday suggests asking goal-orientated questions that’ll provide more useful answers. For example, rather than merely asking someone what they think about you, tell them you want to be seen as more resilient and influential, and ask them if there’s anything you are doing that’s adding or detracting from that.

“When you really know yourself, you'll have the knowledge you need to better impact and influence the people around you,” Canaday said. “And you can use that as the unique blueprint for your leadership style.”

2. Practice impulse control.

It’s tempting to react emotionally in difficult or draining times. However, those sorts of reactions indicate you lack emotional intelligence and will hurt your career.

Instead, the key to having high emotional intelligence is to react to even the most stressful situations in a calm, logical way, Canaday said. This happens by taking a step back and focusing on solutions when an issue arises, rather than dwelling on the problem.

“Be the person in the room who can put things in perspective and pursue goals despite obstacles and setbacks,” Canaday said in her course. “Be intentional about your interactions. Work to put others at ease.”

3. Be open to the thoughts and perspectives of others.

We all have an innate tendency to focus on our own needs and our own goals. But the most emotionally intelligent people have a broader perspective on what motivates others, as well as the organization’s bigger needs.

So when meeting with someone, understand what their goals are. What are the metrics they are being judged on? The closer you can align the task at hand with their KPIs, the more buy-in you’ll get from them and ultimately the better result you’ll get.

Tying it all together

Individual contributors are hired because of their IQ and the technical skills they have. But, if you want to transcend that role and become a leader, it’s critical to start developing your EQ.

“Emotional intelligence matters,” Canaday said in her course. “Its value can't be overstated. So if your goal is to make the successful transition from manager to leader, EQ is the essential foundation you need.”

Click here to watch Canaday’s full course on how to transition from a manager to a leader. Or, click here to download our ebook on learning how to develop great managers at your organization.