The LegalConnect Blog

Developing Emotional Intelligence for Workplace Leaders

From the time you wake up there are 27 states of emotion that may bombard you. On any given day you can expect to be hit with everything from adoration and amusement to fear and disgust—possibly before you reach the office.

If you’re not able to recognize those emotions in yourself and others—and regulate your response to them—those emotions may be driving the bus before you know it, and you’ll just be along for the ride.

Many top performers in the workplace possess a high level of emotional intelligence (EI), which can greatly enhance individual and organizational performance. If you’re a leader or manager, it’s especially important to hone these skills so your performance is optimal for both you and your company. This article shows you how.

 

Emotional Intelligence Defined

Emotional intelligence comes down to the ability to understand and manage emotions. A more formal definition describes the EI concept as the ability, capacity, skill or a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.

If you rely on interpersonal relationships to make your business work—and many litigation support service providers do—you’ll need to master emotional intelligence the same as you would any professional skill. While developing your own EI may take work, the career payoffs are worthwhile, as these statistics illustrate:

 

Perform Better

Approximately 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

Only about 20% of bottom performers rank high for emotional intelligence.

Strong Career Growth

 

Most employers agree: Emotional intelligence and soft skills are essential for career growth and success.

Hard skills become outdated almost as quickly as the next software version is released.

Soft skills are evergreen.

Earn More

On average, high emotional intelligence workers Earn about $29,000 more annually.

58% of Job Performance

Emotional intelligence exerts an influence of 58% of your job performance.

 

Emotional intelligence offers something for everyone. For example, if you’re leading a team or organization, having a high level of EI enables you to evaluate behavior and circumstances objectively.

For employees, a sharpened EI helps them be aware of their own feelings so they may keep their emotions from gaining control in critical situations.

In an increasingly diverse workplace, that’s crucial for preventing misunderstandings, resolving conflict, and maintaining productivity.

 

 

Emotional Intelligence Checklist

Wondering what qualities of EI you already possess?

Emotional intelligence has four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The table below explains how each component applies in everyday interactions.

As you read this table, think about whether you recognize the components in your own day-to-day experience, and how strongly developed they may be:

 
Self-Awareness

You recognize your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and drivers.

Self-Management

You can effectively manage your own emotions, impulses, and behaviors in a variety of circumstances.

Social Awareness

You can sense and understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of others.

Relationship Management

You know how to establish and maintain healthy relationships. You can be a positive influence on others and resolve conflicts constructively.

 

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional intelligence doesn’t mean you should become a doormat. It doesn’t even mean you have to be nice. It does, however, mean you need to manage your own emotions, and the emotions of others, well, if you want to lead teams and coworkers effectively.

 


 

“If you want to make everyone happy…sell ice cream.”

—Steve Jobs

 

 

What makes EI so important to leaders and managers is the role it plays in behavior management, which is an indispensable skill for managers and leaders. Likewise, EI helps navigate the social dynamics of the workplace and craft personal and professional decisions that create favorable outcomes.

That’s because one of the most challenging tasks for many workplace leaders is navigating difficult conversations. Leaders and managers can apply the principles of EI to keep some of the most sensitive conversations between managers and team members focused and productive.

 

 

Imagine: If EI could eliminate judgement, create empathy, and help managers not take things personally, how would that help address topics such as:

  • Poor performance.
  • Personal issues that surface at work.
  • Employees who create distractions or have poor personal hygiene.
  • Admitting mistakes.
  • Investigating misconduct complaints.

Leaders and managers who need to have difficult discussions or help resolve workplace conflicts should also remember:

95% of people believe they are self-aware.

In reality, that figure is much closer to only about 10-15%, which underscores the importance for you, as a leader, to be self-aware when many around you are not.

 

 

What’s Stopping You from Improving Your EI

While most everyone has the capacity to build EI, there are four obstacles that frequently lie in the path to becoming more emotionally intelligent:

 

Anger

Anger makes you less logical, causes the brain to process information through a distorted lens.

Anxiety

Fear and anxiety can cause avoidance and place your focus on worst-case scenarios.

Apathy

Can create conflict with other team members, causing them to disengage, feel resentment, or lower morale.

Pride

Excessive pride can cause individuals to focus too much on themselves, which means collaboration or reconciliation with others will be difficult.

 

These obstacles can be overcome. Businesses can build emotional intelligence into their cultures, and one way is to make sure leaders model emotionally intelligent behavior. Likewise, companies that want to strengthen EI may need to reset a “new normal” for how team members communicate and disagree.

Other practices leaders and managers can facilitate to build EI in the workplace include:

1. Recognize and celebrate individuals who exhibit emotional intelligence.

2. Spotlight members of your litigation support service business who help others.

3. Recognize and encourage good team behavior across the enterprise.

 

Each of these approaches can help you minimize obstacles that can keep professionals from developing a higher level of EI and encourage behaviors that cultivate it.

 

 

What Have You Done for Me Lately, EI?

The benefits of EI aren’t restricted to an organization’s leadership and management. In fact, for best results, EI should be encouraged and actively supported at every position across the business.

When an entire organization is staffed by individuals who place a high value on EI principles and practice, a stronger culture is almost guaranteed.

Here are four aspects of a business that will benefit from a company-wide embrace of EI:

 

1.

Build a positive work environment

Use empathy with team members to foster a more supportive workplace.

2.

Make better decisions

Balance logical reasoning and emotional reasoning to improve your decision making.

3.

Improve trust and loyalty

Instead of frequent small talk, strive for meaningful conversations. Begin with “how” and shift to “why”. It may feel awkward but it will strengthen connections.

4.

Resolve conflict and diffuse tensions

Manage your own reactions so you can calmly state facts, ask questions, and listen. Take in contrasting viewpoints without judgment.

 

Worth Doing Right

Fostering high EI is a smart move for litigation support service businesses, but keep in mind that even a single individual lacking in emotional intelligence can disrupt an entire team. That means cultivating EI among every team member—from managers to entry-level employees—is a must.

It’s a job for leaders but a job worth doing well. The rewards of applying EI ripple out across the entire organization and make a good company great!