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The Top Four Fundamental Soft Skills Successful Leaders Need

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand, manage, and effectively use your emotions in positive ways. People with high emotional intelligence have a high level of empathy and understand their effect on others. This helps them overcome challenges, diffuse conflict, reduce stress, and communicate effectively.

Self-awareness is at the very heart of emotional intelligence. If you’re not aware of your own motivations and emotions and how these affect your behaviors, it’s impossible to develop an understanding of the people who work under you—and over you. A lack of self-awareness is a major hurdle in the business world, and in fact, high emotional intelligence is a stronger predictor of success than IQ. According to the Harvard Business Review, EQ accounts for 90 percent of what moves people up the corporate ladder, with the remaining 10 percent split between IQ and technical skills.

Emotional intelligence, unlike IQ, isn’t static. It can be developed and sharpened. Here are four ways to increase your emotional intelligence and become a more effective team leader.

1. Develop emotional literacy.

Emotional literacy is the ability to accurately perceive and interpret your emotions, and it’s the fundamental building block of EQ. 

Our IQ and working memory reside in the neocortex, while the amygdala—the part of the brain concerned with survival—serves as the emotional center. The amygdala responds to events 100 times faster than the neocortex, and when it’s triggered, it hijacks the cognitive system, potentially reducing our ability to reason by 75 percent. Being aware of your emotions and adept at decoding and responding to them in situationally appropriate ways improves decision-making, problem-solving, and creative thinking.

2. Identify patterns.

As we move through life, we develop unconscious patterns of thought and behavior that become filters for interpreting the world around us. Negative behavior patterns, like lashing out when you’re under stress or getting defensive when someone makes a suggestion, are rooted in emotions. Emotions like anger, fear, and disgust often stem from irrational beliefs. Identifying patterns and the irrational beliefs behind them, such as, “I’m not good enough” or “People are out to get me,” enables you to closely examine them and discard those that don’t serve you.

3. Navigate your emotions.

Emotions are chemical signals manufactured by the brain. Think of them as data that you can use to help you make the right decisions, tap into your creativity, and manage your reactions. But in order to do that, you need to learn to identify your feelings and find the value or purpose in them. By being aware of, examining, and interpreting your emotions, you’ll be more insightful and able to inspire trust and motivation in your team.

4. Increase your empathy

Relationships are everything in business. You can be a certifiable genius and skilled up to your eyeballs, but if you don’t have the relationship or communication skills you need to develop a rapport with the people you encounter, you’ll find it difficult to excel as a leader.

Empathy is at the core of effectively relating to others. Empathy enables you to appreciate multiple points of view, listen more effectively, negotiate expertly, and resolve conflicts. When you can identify with others and respond to them with empathy, you’ll gain their trust and loyalty and be in a better position to motivate and inspire them.

Let H2H Coaching Co. Help You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

H2H Coaching Co. uses a variety of research-based assessments and in-depth coaching strategies to help you develop higher emotional intelligence. We’ll help you learn to “read” your emotions, identify patterns, navigate difficult emotions, and increase your empathy for more effective leadership and decision-making. Contact us today for more information about our one-on-one, group, and custom coaching services, and enjoy greater success and better relationships at work and beyond.

Jesse Galvon Reid

Jesse Galvon Reid

Certified Emotional Intelligence Assessor & Executive Coach