15th Nov 2011

EQ: On Avoiding Social Stumbles in the Workplace

While innovation, vision and confidence are highly regarded traits in any leader, emotional intelligence is equally important. Increasingly, EQ analysis is becoming a regular factor in the recruitment process for any organisation. Leadership success demands control, awareness, and management of one’s own emotions, as well as those of others. Consequently, keen emotional intelligence is a highly desirable attribute in any leader.

But, what is emotional intelligence?

Put simply, emotional intelligence involves understanding your emotional self – your moods and desires – and those of others. Essentially it is self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy and social skill.

Leaders who are tuned in to their emotions and intuitions are more capable of recognising how their emotions affect them – that is, their performance at work – and others. Emotional intelligence allows a leader to speak openly about his/her emotions, and to know his/her strengths and limitations. When one is self-aware, one is realistic, and honest with oneself. Thereby, not either overly critical or overly naïve.

Let’s consider Philip, a senior director and father to two teenagers: one steady, one unruly. Philip’s home life had recently been quite trying as he fought to keep his daughter on track educationally.

During an early meeting one morning, an error was revealed in a report he was analysing with his stakeholders. Realising it, Philip flew off the handle, releasing all his pent-up anger and anxiety on his team.

In motivational terms, this was a faux-pas. The result was tension and unease in the short-term – Philip’s stakeholders knew the error was correctable and the outburst disproportionate. It is one thing to justifiably cause a stink, it is quite another to do so unnecessarily.

Tension in the workplace, and amongst one’s team can lead to lack of productivity and resentment. Social skill, for successful leadership, is crucial.

Had Philip been more aware of his emotions, and their instability at this time, he could have acted differently. By recognising that he might potentially allow his personal issues affect his performance at work, he would ideally, have kept his emotions in check, and compelled himself to see the bigger picture. In this instance he didn’t. Which left him embarrassed, and his team uneasy.

However, it was not by any means a critical mistake. Philip recovered from his social stumble with an apology (very emotionally intelligent), and with a valuable lesson learned on the benefits of a refined EQ in the workplace.

Hilda Goold

As Featured On EzineArticles

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