Why is Emotional Intelligence Important for Leaders?
August 22, 2022
These days innovation, creativity, and the ability to think about problems in new ways are essential drivers to business transformation, competitive advantage, and the impact to the bottom line.  That’s one of the reasons why you won’t find a thriving Leader these days who doesn’t have diversity, equity, and inclusion on their list of priorities.

Attracting a diverse workforce that expands across demographics such as sexual preference, gender, race, and multi-generations, enlarges the talent pool.  The goal is to include employees with new ideas, different life experiences, and varying points of view which in return fuel innovation, creativity, and effective problem-solving.

If a company can attract the talent, diversity is a relatively easy goal to achieve and measure.  Equity and inclusion, however, are a different story.

Equity & Inclusion
When it comes to true equity and inclusion, success rests in the hands of Leaders and their teams.  Corporate policy and awareness training – they don’t even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to meaningful behavior change.  Equity requires a mindset.  So does inclusion.

Leaders also need to be fully equipped with the right skills to lead teams in a manner whereby employees feel safe, understood, accepted, and genuinely valued for their differences.  Then and only then will teams engage with transparency and authenticity.  This can then lead to unsurpassed levels of productivity, performance, innovation, creativity, and ultimately a competitive advantage.

The drive towards achieving true levels of diversity, equity and inclusion is one of the reasons why emotional intelligence is emerging as a need to have rather than a nice to have.

Why Emotional Intelligence
When you gather a diverse team of resources in the same room, there are going to be different beliefs, different opinions and inevitably some conflict.  That’s where the genius lies because conflict can fuel innovation, creativity, and effective problem solving.

When members of a diverse team have emotional intelligence skills, they are more willing and able to listen objectively to one another.  They can hear different opinions and can engage in healthy debate.  A team of emotionally intelligent resources open the doors to a whole new performance advantage.

Leaders and teams equipped with emotional intelligence show up differently by:
  • Feeling confident to disagree and express new ideas which prevents groupthink and herd mentality
  • Listening objectively to new ideas or concerns which drives optimal levels of healthy inclusion
  • Clearly articulating what they want or need which eliminates confusion and misunderstanding
  • Showing up open-minded which means they will acquire a better understanding of what is important to others and why
  • Securing whole-team commitments which strengthens collaboration and means a higher likelihood of achieving departmental goals and objectives
  • Expressing their opinions without becoming combative which directly increases the extent to which their ideas are heard by others
  • Participating in difficult conversations without damaging relationships
  • Approachability which means people around them feel safe to share opposing ideas
  • Engaging effectively in difficult conversations which leads to improved conflict resolution
  • Leaning into healthy conflict which means they will be able to contribute to meaningful resolution and outcomes
  • Remaining calm and focused when their opinions are challenged which means more restraint and less regret
  • Remaining attentive to opinions shared by others which leads to greater objectivity
  • Reducing the degree to which they feel threatened by others which means they are less inclined to be emotionally hijacked
  • The list goes on and on…

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, diversity can be achieved by hiring a workforce that spans across demographics such as sexual preference, gender, race, and multi-generations.  It’s highly unlikely, however, that an organization will achieve any degree of true equity and inclusion, without leaders and team members who are equipped with emotional intelligence.