The threshold competencies for a successful leader are IQ, technical skills, and emotional intelligence (EI). While most of us would think that IQ and technical skills are most important, in reality EI is twice as important as a predictor of leadership success.
In her Achievers Customer Experience 2015 (ACE) session, Bobi Seredich, co-founder of Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, explains how EI is not only important for leaders, but also organizations as a whole. According to Seredich, EI and the ability to connect with your colleagues becomes even more important as one moves into senior leadership positions.
Why? Because a company with great leaders who understand and practice EI can make business teams more productive, engaged, empowered, and committed to the organization, and it can increase the retention of those teams.
Seredich said that practicing EI is like playing golf or practicing yoga. Some days you play great, and other days you falter. She encouraged ACE attendees to explore EI and why it is so important in the workplace for leaders and employees, saying:
- If two people are in a room, and a person with a negative emotion walks in, it only takes 3 seconds for that negative emotion to permeate the room. Influencers need to realize how their behaviors and demeanors affect the room.
- Ninety percent of communications are non-verbal, so leaders should be highly aware of how they are communicating with their posture and demeanor as well as their words.
- People decide if you are competent in less than 100 milliseconds, so you need to be very mindful of your body language and facial expressions when you meet new people in order to make the best impression.
Of course, because of the way human’s brains work, emotions often come before thoughts, so humans feel before we think. This can lead to misunderstandings, disconnections, and stress overload. Learning EI includes understanding how to manage emotions and knowing that being a great leader of a highly successful organization includes the balance of “heart and edge.”
Top performers who are most likely to be promoted are those who approach with heart by demonstrating humility, listening without bias, and building connections. They also have an “edge,” and set high expectations, hold themselves to account, and stand with conviction.
Practicing a balanced EI approach with a mind to connecting with employees, increasing engagement, and creating success, according to Seredich, can help keep everyone’s minds on task by avoiding emotional overload in the workplace.