People Management
7 min.

Emotional Intelligence: Top Managers’ Secret Weapon

Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair
December 8, 2020
Gestionnaire avec une intelligence émotionnelle développée lui permettant de mieux gérer son équipe de travail

It is said that two thirds of a business’s success is due to the emotional competencies of those who manage it.

A lack of emotional intelligence in management can undermine a whole organization. It can manifest itself through a number of adverse impacts, including resistance to change, the mismanagement of conflicts, and a decline in team morale and motivation.

Emotional intelligence is what allows us to put our emotions to good use, and to manage our thoughts and behaviors appropriately, in order to achieve our goals.”

Through developing great emotional intelligence, managers come to master the art of motivating and positively influencing their teams. Their relations with their staff become more harmonious and authentic, and communication is improved. What more could you ask for?

The four skills that follow underlie emotional intelligence. We’ll go over them in detail.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-control
  • Empathy
  • Behavioral adequacy

Managers, Please Leave Your Ego at the Door!

To maintain good relations with people, managing our own baggage is imperative. To do so, you have to be aware of your own feelings. This is what we call self-awareness.

Should Bosses Get Along With Everyone?

Have you ever had an employee challenge your management methods during a meeting? Naturally, this could undermine your credibility. It is therefore difficult not to take it personally. You want to look good, after all.

That being said, as a manager, you should keep something in mind: you can’t have everybody like or approve of you. By realizing this, you’ll acknowledge that such behavior does not put into question your personal or professional value.

Confidence: A Weapon of Mass Persuasion

A manager friend of mine once told me about a brilliant—but highly opinionated—employee of his. During team meetings, that employee often told him that his planning wouldn’t work. He would even go so far as to say that his ideas made no sense whatsoever.

Rather than taking it hard and putting his employee back in his place, the manager didn’t let it get to him.

He played a bit of a game instead: “Alright Stephen, I see you would like to give your input on the question, and I’m interested in hearing you out. What would you like to bring to the table?”

This impressed the manager’s soundness, poise, and openness to criticism upon the rest of the team.

A very clever approach, perhaps, but a difficult one! This attitude shows great work on oneself, which would be impossible without this all-important self-awareness trait.

💡 Both the workplace and management positions are strewn with moments of doubt and fluctuating emotions. Accept your feelings, and try to find out where they come from to better defuse them. Learn to bolster your confidence and to be sensitive to what might rattle it.

Impulsiveness: A Good Manager’s Nemesis

Self-control (or self-management) is the ability to keep one’s emotions and impulses in check. In other words, it’s about acting in a responsible and thought-out way.

An ex boss of mine was smart, charismatic, and loved by everyone… except when the pressure got to him. He once addressed the whole team with a hostile tone, using aggressive words. He then convened a meeting several hours later. The agenda? To change EVERYTHING! 😛  He changed his mind shortly after, when he had calmed down.

Of course, this is the kind of situation that undermines a boss’s credibility, as well as their team’s trust in them. If you can’t control yourself, you simply cannot hope to make your team feel secure.

“One who cannot manage oneself cannot manage others.”

Conversely, a considerate leader would tell his team that he’s particularly busy, causing him to experience more stress. He could explain that this might make him less emotionally and professionally available for the next few days. This would give him the requisite hindsight to eventually make himself available again. It would also keep him from being bombarded with further requests and cracking under the pressure.

💡 People who can self-regulate—manage their feelings by themselves—are able to wait for their emotions to simmer down before taking action. Make it a habit to take a step back before speaking or making decisions, especially when you’re having a hard time. Take the distance you need to let reason prevail.

Empathy: The Manager’s Core Ability

Empathy is the capacity to consider others with awareness and understanding. It is of use in any and all interactions with your team, and is essential to conflict resolution.

Studies show that 99% of millennial employees see feedback as necessary, and are disappointed by a lack of transparent conversations with their employers. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

I once worked in a store of which the manager used weekly meetings to blatantly vent about what bothered him. He never told us about who he was complaining, but we could always tell. Needless to say, this behavior made for quite the toxic work environment. A prudent manager could’ve instead met individually with the interested parties, showing consideration to them while sparing everyone else the unease.

Embracing Difference

One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make is believing that everyone else thinks and is like them.

Maybe you wouldn’t mind a last-minute schedule change. But that doesn’t mean your employee wouldn’t. Ask them about it to better understand their reality.

Every person is different. We all have unique needs that are worth considering, as well as boundaries that are worth respecting.

💡 Empathy will let you interact with your staff and make them feel welcomed, heard, and considered. Should you find in yourself a tendency to make everything about you, get in the habit of reminding yourself that your employees are all different from each other—and that they’re neither better nor worse than each other for it. Show interest in your team, and ask them about themselves to gain a real sense of their reality.

The Ideal Manager Is, Above All, a Great Team Player

Behavioral adequacy includes sociability and the ability to work in a team, as well as to manage conflicts through collaboration. People with solid social skills tend to be well liked. After all, who doesn’t like to talk and work with someone who’s approachable, accessible, empathetic, and caring?

In yet another one of my previous work experiences, two of my coworkers had come into conflict. One wanted to let the dust settle before talking to the other again, but then received an email from the manager before she had the chance. The manager had shown a clear lack of distance. Not only did he explicitly take a side in the conflict, but he did so in writing, copying both employees in his email. Needless to say, his conduct demonstrated major deficiencies in his conflict resolution skills.

As a manager, your behavioral adequacy is everything. Your credibility depends on it. Learn to see conflicts as learning opportunities. Even though you may want to resolve conflicts as quickly as possible, foster collaboration by listening and sharing rather than driving a wedge between the parties by taking sides. In conclusion, be a team player. Be positive and bring people together.

Working on Oneself to Better Work With Others

Does the following phrase ring a bell? Employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. Take it from us: emotional intelligence is the ONE skill to develop to know success as a manager. It is exactly what will enable you to make better, more reasoned decisions. This, in turn, will make you an example for your team to follow.

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