How can a person develop and improve his or her emotional intelligence?
As defined by Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” As a result of Goleman’s work in the 1990’s, we are now paying more attention to emotional intelligence. It's not just that you know how to do the job—it’s that you know how to do the job by working well with people. This is especially important when working in a leadership role.
Self-awareness. The first thing is that you need to have a great deal of self-awareness. That means recognizing your emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, as well as how they affect other people. It is critical to be aware of how your behavior and emotions affect how you operate in any kind of a situation, and how you affect the emotions and behaviors of others. It's not only important to know your strengths, but also know your weaknesses. If you don't know what your weaknesses are, you should ask others for a candid assessment of areas where you could improve. Have self-confidence, but be realistic. You can have confidence in your ability to lead, but you don't want to have arrogance, and you want to make sure that your confidence is realistic.
Self-management. Controlling your emotions, impulses and feelings is critically important in a leadership role. You might be extremely angry in a situation, but take that anger home with you. Don't show it in a situation where you are expected to be the leader. It's important to maintain calm and not show impulsivity, anger, or any of those types of emotions. Follow through on commitments. If you promise something, make sure that you deliver. If you absolutely cannot deliver, apologize for that. Adapt to changing circumstances. We have to adapt, accept the reasons why and try to be positive about it.
Social Awareness. As a leader, it is important to understand the emotions, needs and concerns of the people with whom you work. You want to pick up on those subtle emotional cues. You want to feel comfortable dealing with other people when they are going through hard times, as well as good times. You want to recognize the dynamics in a group or an organization. If you are leading a meeting, you may have one person who is very positive about the discussion and a person who is very negative. You want to help manage that and control those dynamics within the group in a positive way.
Relationship Management. It is extremely important to develop and maintain good relationships. We all work better when we develop good relationships with other team members.