Why Managers need Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever asked why some people are good at leading teams and others, well…….they’re a little off the pace. In the 'old days' we measured a managers worth by his IQ. However today it’s a little different. We evaluate a managers ability by a term we call Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ they are one and the same).

Goleman (1995) defined a person with high EI/EQ as being one who:

  • Was good at understanding their own emotions (self-awareness)
  • Good at managing their own emotions (self-management)
  • Empathetic to the emotions of other people (social awareness)
  • Good at handling other people’s emotions (social skills)

Today we are pushing for managers to have a high EQ so that organisations can achieve more. It’s the old mathematics of ‘synergy’. We all know that 1+1=2. And it’s the same for work output. However, if we can get Worker 1 to work collaboratively with Worker 2 and combine their efforts, the belief is that more can be achieved, thus the sum-total would equal 3. That’s why businesses today believe in teams. It's more bang for the buck. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the manager to make teams as effective as possible. To do that they need to understand their staff and for this they need to have EQ.

What then happens if you are missing some or all of these four elements of EQ as outlined by Goleman. How do you even tell? Well…specifically, you need to be able to determine if you have poor communication skills or low EQ. Here are some questions that will help you gauge if you need help:

  • Others don’t get your point and it makes you impatient and frustrated.
  • You’re surprised when others are hurt by your comments or jokes.
  • You think being liked at work is overvalued.
  • In discussions, you step in early with your arguments and defend them fiercely.
  • You think everyone should be as good as you.
  • You blame others for poor team performance.
  • You don’t understand when and why people get upset.

For those that could see themselves in some of the above questions, help is at hand. Question: How do we develop EQ? Well here is a short five-point list that will set you off in the right direction:

  • Be assertive and but not aggressive when dealing with others
  • Stay cool and manage stress when things get hard
  • Be more flexible with people and issues
  • Manage your own emotions
  • Be aware of other people’s emotions and consider why they feel that way

In a sense, being a good manager is also about being a leader. And with that then comes the responsibility of helping others to develop. To do that you need to be able to relate to and understand the emotional needs of others. There are those of us who will remain 'a bull in a china shop' (very task orientated) and will care little for others but I think that those days are coming to a close. We need more from our managers and that means getting more from our teams, and that means having EQ.

- Kel Gleeson