Emotional intelligence — a term that was first coined in 1990 and has since become a highly-regarded concept — refers to the ability to understand emotions and how they drive behavior. Those with strong emotional intelligence can use this knowledge to motivate others and build positive relationships.

As leaders and executives, some of the biggest workplace issues arise because of a lack of understanding of what drives and motivates people. Failure to understand your own emotions or those of others can have a significant impact on how you interact with and lead the rest of a team.

The Components of Emotional Intelligence

What do we mean when we say someone has emotional intelligence? In its simplest sense, emotional intelligence can be broken down into five components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-motivation
  • Empathy
  • Strong social skills, including building and managing relationships

These skills equip people to identify, connect with and grow from their own emotions and those of others.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Executives

While emotional intelligence is an important skill for every individual, it’s absolutely crucial when it comes to successful leadership. The most effective leaders possess a strong sense of emotional intelligence, with the ability to understand their employees and motivate them to excel. Even with years of training, natural creativity and business smarts, emotional intelligence is what sets the greatest leaders apart from the pack.

Unfortunately, not all executives possess this skill. Historically, emotional intelligence has not been a highly considered factor when promoting into executive roles. Instead, knowledge, success and experience propel leadership forward. Once promoted, executives can actually begin to lose emotional intelligence, as the frequency of meaningful staff interaction tends to decline. Without these interactions, it is harder for executives to see how their decisions and emotional state impact the rest of their team.

Five Strategies to Develop Emotional Intelligence Skills in an Executive

As executive emotional intelligence is both key to success and often lacking, it’s important to make an effort to help develop these abilities. CEO emotional intelligence skills can be built through training and simple, everyday strategies. Emotional intelligence training for executives involves being intentionally mindful of your own feelings and how they affect those around you. Begin to identify and pay attention to emotional states, both internally and interpersonally.

Executives can follow these five strategies each day to enhance emotional intelligence:

  1. Acknowledge and identify personal emotions: Take note of how you’re feeling. Stress, tiredness, elation, motivation, frustration — the list is endless. Take the time to name and tune into your feelings.
  2. Demonstrate appreciation: As a leader, it’s easy to notice when your staff makes a mistake. Be intentional about highlighting work done well and voicing your appreciation for successes, however small.
  3. Acknowledge others’ feelings: Emotional intelligence is about more than just your own feelings. Take note of the mood of the room and the emotions others exhibit during your interactions.
  4. Sleep and eat well: Tiredness and hunger significantly impact our ability to stay emotionally healthy. Getting enough sleep each night can help improve your ability to control your emotional reactions.
  5. Avoid negative thinking: Take ownership of your negative thoughts. Strengthen your emotional intelligence by refraining from negative thought patterns and training your mind to focus on solutions and possibilities instead.

Contact RSI to Find Executives With High Emotional Intelligence

The team at Reaction Search International has built a long-standing reputation for finding and recruiting top talent across the country. We look beyond skill sets and backgrounds and conduct thorough interviews and reference checks to identify quality candidates who possess the emotional intelligence strengths you need. Our network of recruiters is here to place the highest caliber executives available. If you’re searching for leaders to help your company excel, submit a job order form with RSI today to get started.