What Do Managers Have To Know About Emotional Intelligence?

It turns out that understanding emotional is simpler than you might think
It turns out that understanding emotional is simpler than you might think
Image Credit: Ars Electronica

Just about every manager these days has probably heard about “Emotional Intelligence”. Just because you’ve heard about it does not mean that you really know what it is. We all think that we understand the parts: emotional and intelligence. However, when you put it together, what is it really talking about? For that matter, why is everyone suddenly talking about it in terms of how we can go about managing our teams?

Say Hello To “Emotional Intelligence”

Any discussion of emotional intelligence has to start with trying to get an answer to the question: what is emotional intelligence, exactly? If as a manager you have ever asked yourself that question then you are not alone? It’s a good question. It turns out that there are two answers to this question. Guess what: one’s simple, the other is complex. Let’s start our discussion with the complex one. Emotional intelligence can be defined as being the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. Researchers may divide it into a number of different facets, but they usually contain elements of the following four abilities:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to identify and understand emotions in yourself.
  • Self management: the ability to manage those emotions and keep them from causing you to act (or refrain from acting) in a way that you later regret.
  • Social awareness: the ability to identify and understand emotions in others.
  • Relationship management: the ability to provide and receive benefits from your relationships with others.

Guess what: although these four abilities, or facets, of emotional intelligence are connected and complement one another, they aren’t always dependent on each other. What this means is that you will likely excel in one or more aspects and be weaker in another. Additionally, if you can develop a deeper understanding of emotional intelligence then that will involve understanding different parts of our brain like the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, and how those parts of the brain work together to process thoughts and emotions. It is surprising when you realize that much like what we think of as traditional intelligence, emotional intelligence is not inherently virtuous. That means people can use it to accomplish all sorts of goals, some that many would define as “evil,” as well as ones that we would consider to be “good.”

Now that we have that taken all care of, let’s get to the simple answer. Emotional intelligence simply is finding a way to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. Some researchers of emotional intelligence will say this might be over-simplifying things – but I would disagree. As humans, each member of your team is an emotional creature. Emotions play a major role in every decision they make. Therefore, the more time that you take to learn about how your and others’ emotions work, how they affect your decision making and everyday life, and how to manage them, the better off you will be.

The Downside To Emotional Intelligence

As managers we need to remember what we were told in the Spiderman movie and realize that with great power, comes great responsibility. What this means for us is that the more emotional intelligence we have, the more power we will have. We need to remember that power corrupts. Managers need to realize that emotional intelligence is really only one part of the equation. We also need morals and ethics to help us manage that manager power. Keep in mind that there are other forms of intelligence, such as what is traditionally known as general intelligence.

So, what does emotional intelligence look like in real life? It comes in different packages, shapes, and sizes and we need to know what they look like so that we can recognize them:

  • It’s the leader who knows how to inspire and rally his team.
  • It’s the follower who knows which leader they need to follow – along with when and how they should speak up.
  • It’s the extrovert who knows when it’s time to pull back.
  • It’s the introvert who knows when it’s time to push forward.
  • It’s the teacher who has the ability to make the dullest subject come to life.
  • It’s the student who understands what it takes to make their teacher feel like they’ve chosen the best job in the world.
  • It’s the doctor who really listens to their patients.
  • It’s the patients who take the time to listen to their doctor.
  • It’s the artist who have the ability to channels their feelings in order to create something beautiful.
  • It’s the audience who can appreciate the beauty of what is being presented to them.

What All Of This Means For You

Managers need to understand that emotional intelligence is really a spectrum. Like everyone, you have both emotional strengths and weaknesses. As you become aware of your own, you need to strive to learn from those who are different from you.

As you do this , you’ll see how to leverage the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses. Guess what: that’s making emotions work for you, instead of against you.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that you can develop your own emotional intelligence?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the things that managers are call on to do a lot of is making decisions. We make them all the time. We also find ourselves making big decisions and little decisions. We make decisions that really don’t matter all that much and we make decisions that can have big impacts. It’s this last category that seems to cause us the most problems. We worry about these decisions. Did we make the right decision? Should we have made a different decision? We need to come up with a way to make the right decisions.