How to cultivate emotional intelligence in your team

22nd June 2021

Emotions and personalities are ingrained into each and every one of us. It’s impossible to control how things make us feel however, we can control how we react and we can learn to read and influence other people’s reactions and emotions.

It’s important in leadership to practice what you preach, show, and lead by example. This can be exemplified in the ways of listening, communicating, resolving conflicts, and showing how teams should be working together and staying motivated.

This is related to the overarching skill of emotional intelligence.

As a leader, it is imperative to cultivate emotional intelligence skills in order to create strong relationships, boost morale, and increase job satisfaction and performance.

Before being able to cultivate emotional intelligence in your team you must first have and understand these components:

1. Self-awareness

Understanding your own emotions and triggers.

2. Self-regulation

Being able to regulate and control your emotions.

3. Positive social skills

Being able to listen, understand, sympathise, give advice and ultimately leave people feeling good about themselves.

4. Empathy

Being able to empathise and feel compassion for those around you regardless of who they are.

5. Motivation

Motivated people tend to be optimistic and will always try to find a positive no matter what problem is faced.

With every skill, these will need to be revisited, practised, and worked on frequently to maintain personal emotional intelligence in order to be the best role model possible for your team.

What can we do as leaders to cultivate emotional intelligence in our teams?

As mentioned above, lead by example, show your team the right way to deal with situations and soon they will follow.

Start by:

  • Actively listening. Make sure that you give all your attention to employees when they are talking, do not interrupt, and minimise other interruptions. This will show the team members that communication, whether individually or in groups, should be handled in a calm respectful manner. Everyone deserves the chance to speak and to be heard.
  • Encourage your team to express their emotions instead of bottling them up. Show them how to ask for help instead of possibly snapping. We are all humans and sometimes we just have a bad day. But it’s important that we learn how to effectively communicate to keep a positive attitude around the workplace. Show your team how to ask questions like “I’m feeling overwhelmed with my workload, would you mind helping me with this task?” and so on.
  • Recognise, respond and handle stress with your team. There are tell-tale signs of a person who is stressed – trouble focusing, flushed faces, short-tempered, less productive, and effective. It’s important as a leader to recognise and respond to this. Over time your team will be able to recognise this among each other and within themselves, giving them the ability to learn how to recognise, reach out, and express themselves effectively.
  • Encourage an autonomous and flexible approach to issues. We all have different ways of responding to emotional issues and we never know the underlying cause at first. There is no one way for everyone. Having an autonomous and flexible approach allows you to respond to the needs of your employees and encourage them to respond to others’ needs on their own.

Bringing your team closer together and creating bonds through fun team-building exercises and tasks is also a good way of developing and building close relationships. They allow time for everyone to learn more about each other, in turn making it easier to develop and understand emotional intelligence as a group, and learn how to practice these points above.

Cultivating emotional intelligence in your team is not a fast process, it takes time and patience. It’s important to stay on top of what is happening around the workplace and actively practice those 5 components to ensure your team will follow.

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