Belfast Telegraph

The Value of Emotional Intelligence in our Leaders

Patrick McCourt
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As we move towards phased returns to the office and other flexible working arrangements, many of us will face some challenges and concerns when adapting to the change this brings.

The task that lies ahead for leaders is how they will engage with their teams in a way that effectively balances change delivery alongside supporting their people through the change. Emotional Intelligence (EI) isn’t a new concept by any means, but it is a soft skill that has been amplified in prominence due to the impact of Covid on both our personal and working lives, and will be a key skill that leaders can utilise in the coming months.

Emotional Intelligence is our ability to sense, manage, and express our emotions in particular situations. It also involves our ability to perceive emotions in others, and appropriately respond to them in a way that is productive for the maintenance of interpersonal relationships. It is usually in difficult times when we see effective EI in action.

When we consider the context we are working in at the moment, leaders who effectively express their EI and are in tune with their people’s needs – and most importantly can anticipate and effectively manage a difficult conversation ahead – will be in a strong position to deliver positive outcomes for both performance levels and employee experience as they navigate their future direction.

Emotional Intelligence, similar to General Intelligence (IQ), is a strong predictor of job success, and has been found in research to be linked to leader effectiveness, job satisfaction, and an important protecting factor in response to stress.

So, considering the current working climate and some of the future conversations managers may be having with their people, is now the time for more organisations to begin to really prioritise Emotional Intelligence in how it not only develops, but identifies its leaders? I think so.

A recent health and wellbeing at work survey conducted by the CIPD highlighted that there is growing recognition by employers of the need to support employee experience and wellbeing in response to the impact of Covid. However, the report also underlined the attention required to improve support for line manager behaviour and capability development in helping to manage what will now be a potentially complex variety of individual circumstances within their teams.

The good news is that Emotional Intelligence can be developed; and it can be an important area for organisations to consider when planning their leadership development support.  Empathy, conflict management and coaching skills are just some of the skills that fall within the arena of Emotional Intelligence, and that organisations should look to develop in their leaders. The use of psychometric tools will be helpful in the measurement of EI, offering valuable insights to help individuals identify particular areas of focus for their development.

There is tremendous value in identifying and developing Emotional Intelligence in the workforce, especially in this time of change, and the prize will go to the organisations that recognise that too!