Emotional intelligence (aka EQ) is recognizing, comprehending, and responding to our own emotions. As with leadership, there is much debate over whether EQ is learned or occurs naturally. But despite the controversy, project leaders need to develop and expand their EQ.
Why is EQ important for these leadership roles? First, self-aware leaders can better leverage their strengths and improve their weaknesses. Second, with more EQ, the ability to empathize is increased. Third, but perhaps most important, leaders with higher EQ can calm their emotional state, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making.
As a leader improving your EQ skills, you will find your relationship with the team improves, project outcomes improve, and your influence will increase. Here are five ways project leaders can work to improve their EQ:
1. Start with a self-evaluation. Be honest and assess how well you manage your emotions. Then, start with a short, 15-minute quiz.
2. Be observant. Watch people react to you in various situations and how you respond and relate to them. Consider how you might become more flexible and sensitive to their needs. Make situations more about others and less about you.
3. Request feedback. Ask others about your levels of empathy and flexibility. Exercise active listening - don't react. Instead, take in the information and thank them for their time. Then reflect on how their feedback can be applied to future situations such as managing conflict or making difficult decisions.
4. Be self-motivated. Set challenging goals for yourself and do your best to meet them. Learn how to accept challenges and overcome them. Once you have increased your EQ, you will be able to set reasonable challenges for team members. Don't overwhelm them but give them their personal and EQ growth opportunities.
5. Maintain a positive attitude. As a leader, your attitudes and moods will set the tone for the team. Maintain a positive attitude. When things get challenging, reflect on the positives of those challenges. But don't ban discussions of negative things such as risks. Let the team express their concerns, then work with them to determine the best mitigations and solutions.
Do you have other suggestions for improving EQ? Let us know in the comments below!
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