More research shows emotional intelligence is a crucial leadership trait. Here’s how to develop it, according to diversity and inclusion consultants.

Diversity and inclusion experts say the pressure on CEOs to enact social change means more leaders will be judged on their emotional intelligence.

A new study found that managers who self-described as emotionally intelligent outperformed others.
Emotional intelligence is one’s ability to understand how people feel and react to make decisions.
This article is part of a series called “IQ to EQ,” which explores the management styles of inspiring business leaders. Check here for similar stories.

Emotional intelligence gives leaders a competitive edge, a new study found.

Managers who self-described as emotionally intelligent were found to be 11% more successful in completing projects than those who said they ranked low in emotional intelligence, per research conducted by software reviews platform Capterra that was published earlier this week. 

Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to understand the way people feel and react and to use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems,” per the Cambridge Dictionary.

A 2019 global survey of 750 execs conducted by consulting firm Capgemini found that most leaders said that emotional intelligence will be required of them moving forward. A 2009 study published in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal found that executives who possessed higher levels of empathy and self‐regard were more likely to yield high company profits. 

“It’s a crucial leadership skill to have, one I think more people are going to be talking about in the future,” Arquella Hargrove, diversity and inclusion consultant and leadership coach, told Insider. 

Amid calls for racial equity and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), consultants said they expect demand for emotional intelligence to increase even more over the next few years. 

“Diversity and inclusion — we are dealing with people. We want to humanize it. There’s emotion there,” Hargrove said. 

Company leaders need to demonstrate their ability to listen to others and take action, Arquella Hargrove, diversity, equity, inclusion and HR strategist, told Insider.

“If we’re trying to center around humanity and accept people for who they are, you have to have a skillset of understanding and of empathy,” Doris Quintanilla, executive director and cofounder of The Melanin Collective, a DEI consultancy, said. 

This article was originally published in February 2021. 

What emotional intelligence looks like and how to build it 

There are multiple parts to emotional intelligence leaders (and managers in general) can work to improve. They fall under a few broad categories, explain Daniel Goleman, famed author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” and Richard E. Boyatzis, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University. 

One is social awareness: or the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s having empathy, they write in Harvard Business Review

To boost your empathy, Hargrove and Quintanilla recommend leaders spend more time learning about their employees from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. Invite them to share their experiences, and listen to them. In addition, educate yourself by reading books on anti-racism. 

Doris Quintanilla, executive director and cofounder of The Melanin Collective, said DEI goals can’t be achieved if a company’s leader is not empathetic and able to listen to others.

“The beauty of this is when leaders listen to their colleagues from different backgrounds, they start to value those differences. They make people feel included on the team,” Hargrove said. 

Another part of emotional intelligence is how well you manage relationships, or your ability to communicate effectively and work with others. 

“One part of emotional intelligence is asking for feedback and being able to accept that feedback. That makes managers and leaders better,” she said. 

Quintanilla recommends leaders invest in their relationships with Black and brown employees. Give them a seat at the decision-making table, and incorporate their advice into your plans. 

“Everyone had a statement after the murder of George Floyd, those things don’t matter anymore. The words that you say — if they’re not in alignment with the actual actions you’re taking, the people you’re hiring, the people you’re promoting — we don’t want to hear it,” Quintanilla said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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