The Importance of EQ in Management

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
During the last decade, emotional intelligence became a hot topic and buzzword, and the concept of understanding not just the feelings of others, but also our own feelings came into vogue. A lot of research has been done into Emotional Intelligence to a point that it is now recognized as one of the top 10 skills needed in the workplace.

 If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far. [DANIEL GOLEMAN]

It’s a journey I took myself over the last 10 years and continue to do so, as emotional intelligence plays such an important role in every aspect of life. Before making any decision or acting on impulse, it’s important to understand body language, the emotional resonance of other people, and your own deep-seated feelings. For me, learning to respond rather than react is still one of my greatest challenges but, with my increased emotional awareness, it’s a challenge I now feel better equipped to deal with.

As awareness of Emotional Intelligence increases, more people are seeing the value it is bringing to organizations as well as to their personal lives. Several clients have referred to EQ training as ‘Life changing’. For it to be life changing we can’t just talk about it but need to actively put it into action on a daily basis. This is what I believe in the decade ahead we’ll need to do more of – take more action in practicing emotional intelligence to ensure our survival and sustainability.

With this increasing recognition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), particularly in the workplace, it has become apparent that hard skills alone aren’t enough to create strong leaders; with research showing that those with a high EQ are more self-aware, motivated and empathetic – crucial traits for successful management.

The importance of EQ in management is becoming increasingly recognized as playing a role in the success of an organisation. Leaders with higher EQ are better at engaging staff and stakeholders by creating a positive atmosphere, and improving overall communication.

To inspire more leaders to begin working on their EQ, one needs to understand the benefits to harnessing EQ in management. These benefits include:

  • creating a positive atmosphere
  • motivating employees
  • creating open and honest communication, and
  • developing mindfulness and empathy for a successful organization going forward.

The decade ahead brings with it other challenges as we are seeing an attitude shift in the professional class. While a generation ago, professional servitude was still practiced, accepted or even expected, the millennial workforce is different.

Workers of the past, when told to jump, would ask ‘how far/high?’ as an act of trust, acceptance and loyalty. The answer today probably would be ‘why?’. There are a few reasons for this. The one-job-for-life practice is no longer the norm. Studies show that the majority of people born after 1990 do not believe in staying in a position for more than two years. They have more options available in the job market, entrepreneurship is a viable choice, and rebellion is an attractive characteristic. Secondly, attention spans have gone down substantially, thanks to gadgets, distractions, and a quickened pace of life. How do you sustain interest in the same job or role for long when you struggle to decide what show to watch on an OTT platform, or what food to order on a food delivery app?

Finally, and increasingly, the mantra of the modern youth is to put ‘me’ first. Selflessness is seen as a sign of weakness, an ambition killer and an obstacle to success. Self-care is a commonly used reason for missing deadlines, rejecting pressure and dealing with stress. For a leader to be able to manage this professional work force, self-awareness, communication and empathy have become far more important than before and these are generally considered to be some of the main attributes of Emotional Intelligence. In many of my workshops we look at the traits of great leaders and no matter what country, culture or workplace we are in there are common traits.

This all shows that Emotional Intelligence will become even more important in the workplace over the next decade and more the reason why we need to get upskilled and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Bearing in mind that people join organisations but leave because of their managers who, in many cases, lack true leadership ability.

Even in our personal lives, using Emotional Intelligence will become increasingly more important as we see rising stress levels, an increase in complexity, and a feeling of increased personal isolation. The ability to grow Emotional Intelligence and to practice it more widely and consistently is our biggest hope for our future and the future of our children.

My personal goal this decade is to continue my own EQ growth while supporting others to grow their Emotional Intelligence through Self-awareness, Self-regulation, learning to become more Intentional and Purpose-driven, and taking ownership for our impact on others. What is yours?