Best PracticeChange ManagementCommunicationLeadership
September 9, 2015

Be an inspiring leader, use EQ

Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux

When I first became a manager over 20 years ago, I was not as familiar with different leadership styles, but I knew what type of manager I did not want to be: I did not want to be critical, rude, disrespectful, insensitive … I’m sure you’re all familiar with the type of managers I mean (see the interview with Craig Dowden, Pg. 22,23, in this issue). Fortunately, I was able to get into a management development program and I started reading about leadership.

One of the recommended books was by Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1995). It was quite a revelation. Everything I was observing at work started to make more sense. I saw leaders who combined both intelligence and humanity being more successful than those who relied solely on their intelligence. The concept of Emotional Quotient (EQ) as defined by Goleman explained the difference between an effective leader and a seat-warmer. Goleman introduced five components of EQ:

  • Self-awareness (knowing your emotions and the impact you have on others);
  • Self-regulation (managing your emotions and learning to control impulses);
  • Motivation (pursuing goals beyond money and status);
  • Empathy for others (treating people according to their emotional state);
  • Social Skills (proficiency in managing relationships and building a network).

While we can all agree that technical skills, knowledge, and intellectual capacity are important factors to leaders’ success, it is easy to observe that those with EQ, in addition to their IQ, are more successful. Studies have shown that emotional intelligence is twice as important as cognitive and technical skills.

I started applying my newly found knowledge of leadership and EQ at work. At that time, I was managing a very large operational organization in the public service and had many subalterns who each led large teams. I showed them how to use their emotional intelligence to motivate and encourage their team members. I saw that those who had built a solid work relationship, with positive communication, clear expectations, and regular recognition were able to get their teams to be more productive. On the other hand, those who used more of a dictatorship style of management that was rule-oriented and not as personal, nor engaging, were less successful.

I also observed over the years that employees who are involved in more strategic work need a leader that will encourage and support them. Regardless of level or title, all employees need to feel part of a healthy successful team. A leader with strong emotional intelligence will know how to create an environment that is harmonious and productive for all, while taking into account each employee’s needs for learning, growth, initiative, and recognition, to name a few. A positive work environment is as contagious as a negative work environment. It is imperative for any leader to create the right environment based on the mandate of the team.

A leader with EQ will detect where there could be reasons for negativity and will use their EQ to assist their team members to overcome any unpleasant issues. This type of leader does not surround themselves with “yes” people. On the contrary, they enjoy diversity and encourage the expression of any new ideas. Healthy discussions will occur with leaders that are supportive, inspiring, and trusting. The reason for this is that these leaders are in management for the best of the organization and not for themselves.

I am pretty sure you have observed successful leaders and see how their recipe for success included EQ. I encourage you to read more about it. Don’t be afraid, it has nothing to do with being emotional. It is all about being a respectful leader that aims for excellence in the workplace. It is about using our head and our heart with resilience, integrity, courage, and humility. It is about inspiring our employees.

As one of my colleagues, Mr. Nick Frate, put it, one can liken inspiring leaders to the rhythm of a good song: “Music gets your blood flowing and makes you want to move. So I ask you: What are you doing to make your employees move?” Applying EG, and recognizing emotional intelligence in the next generation of leaders will make for a better public service.

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