5 Daily Practices of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

It’s no secret that I love talking and writing about emotional intelligence. Honestly, so much of what I’m passionate about is connected directly to EQ: communication, self-awareness, compassion, empathy and habits. In my previous blog post, I described how leaders can use habits to prime their heads and hearts to “learn” emotional intelligence, as it is not something that can simply be taught in a class, workshop or from a book.

Today I want to dig a little deeper into the types of habits that successful leaders employ to ensure they keep their EQs sharp and healthy. Some of these habits are shockingly simple. Others are a bit more challenging. All of them are potentially powerful for you as you transcend to the next level in your leadership.

Let’s get started!

#1 – Authenticity

Inauthentic leaders are not really leaders at all. Why? Because people rarely feel compelled to follow those who fail to operate with authenticity. Authenticity is the quality of “realness” that aligns a leader’s thoughts, actions, beliefs and values with their work. It is the practice of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

To turn authenticity into a habit, pay attention to your words and actions. Are you just telling people what they want to hear or acting in a way meant to impress others? Or are you expressing who you are and sharing aspects of the real you with others? As a leader, it is critical that you express yourself authentically. This is what will drive others to follow your lead. The absence of authenticity usually only leads to disengagement and a breakdown of trust.

#2 – Constant Learning

Leaders who think they know it all usually find out the hard way that they have a lot to learn. Grounded, emotionally intelligent leaders, on the other hand, understand that there is always much to learn – from their superiors, their peers, the people they lead and virtually everyone they encounter.

You may have answers, but there is always more for you to learn in order to improve your leadership. Don’t be a know-it-all; be a student. Use every interaction as an opportunity to learn something new, even if it doesn’t apply directly to your work or your leadership. Constant learning is one of the key ways for leaders to stay attuned to their most emotionally intelligent selves.

#3 – Building Relationships

Leadership relies heavily on high-quality relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders recognize this, which is why they make a constant effort to grow, nurture and explore the relationships they have with others. They also have the awareness to perceive when connections between others could be fruitful. This is not just networking; it’s the recognition that we are all in this together, and the more connected we are, the more likely we are to achieve success.

To make this a habit, I suggest shifting your perception of the people around you. Instead of considering them in terms of what they can do for you or your organization, think about them in terms of the amazing things you could learn from them. This level of intimacy will enhance the quality and depth of your relationships and take managing performance and results to a whole new level.

#4 – Practicing Compassion

Your organization will benefit tremendously from creating a culture that values compassion. It is up to you, as the leader, to establish that tone and environment for others. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that people make mistakes, are not perfect and don’t always live up to desired expectations. People have lives outside of work and are presented with challenges that impact their professional lives. Instead of berating employees or placing people in the “doghouse,” for the lack of performance, listen and seek to understand where they are coming from and what might be happening in their life to create the circumstance in question.

The big secret about compassion is that most people save very little of it for themselves – especially leaders, and it needs to start with self-first. So, the next time you feel like beating yourself up or letting your emotions and anger take over, take a moment to forgive yourself. You are a human being, after all. Practicing compassion for yourself and others allows people to make the right decisions in the moment, rather than adhering to a negative storyline of behavior. Make this a habit and you will see the impact it has on others performance and how it can positively transform your culture and business results overall.  

#5 – Measure Your Success

Building habits associated with emotional intelligence can be difficult for leaders who fail to pay attention to outcomes. Sometimes the successes offered through enhanced EQ are subtle and difficult to detect. But emotionally intelligent leaders keep their antennas tuned to the consequences and reactions to their behaviors. They see the cause-and-effect relationships inherent to their actions, and they learn to associate emotionally intelligent behaviors with successful outcomes. By paying attention and measuring their successes, they experience crucial rewards that reinforce good, emotionally intelligent behaviors.

My advice? It’s not enough to just change your behaviors. You must also make a habit of monitoring how your actions impact the world around you. Pay attention to the effects of your decisions. I would even suggest keeping an emotional intelligence journal to record the day-to-day reflections you have about your journey to higher EQ. I guarantee that over time, you will see serious progress, which will spur you to rise to even greater heights as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence Takes Time

There is no magical emotional intelligence switch or button in your brain that you can activate to become a master of EQ. It takes time, effort and diligence. It also requires you to be forgiving of yourself – you will make mistakes and revert to old, bad habits. And that’s okay! Each moment is a new opportunity to practice the habits that lead to higher levels of emotional intelligence and grounded leadership.

Interested in learning more about emotional intelligence and how the right habits can guide you to a new level of effective leadership? I would love to have a conversation with you about this important topic. Send me an email at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca, or give me a call at 1.855.871.3374. I LOVE talking about this topic, so I can’t wait to hear from you and answer any questions you may have.

Be sure to tune in to the blog next week, too, for more insights on the power of emotional intelligence for leaders.

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