Afghanistan’s business environment is a difficult one to operate in as a business leader. Uncertainty, security incidents, high staff turnover, undereducated human capital, and political instability characterize the business environment in the country. Managing organizations also requires taking into account the delicacies of Afghanistan’s social context and cultural values. Understanding the people side of organizations is an absolute necessity. In a way, to successfully manage a business and build effective teams, it takes more than just a strong IQ.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the glue to keeping teams and organizations together. EI is the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions, both in yourself and in others. Leaders with a high level of EI look beyond the obvious and make decisions that align with both organizational and personal objectives. EI’s role becomes more prominent at times of distress and conflict.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is often taken at the surface yet it has powers that can turn managers to effective leaders if used appropriately. Danel Goleman whose world bestseller book Emotional Intelligence sold over 5 million copies in 40 languages, believes that “the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.” From a startup to a mature business organization, managers and leaders need to operate with a high degree of emotional intelligence, measured by what is known as “EQ”, for emotional quotient, as a comparison with the commonly known “IQ”, for intelligence quotient.
Goleman identifies five domains of EI:
- Knowing your emotions
- Controlling and managing your emotions
- Keeping yourself motivated
- Recognizing & showing empathy with other people’s emotions
- Managing your relationships
Great leaders have the ability to recognize, understand, acknowledge, and manage their own emotions. Feelings of happiness, sadness, peace, anger, stress, fear, etc. all affect your ability to make sound judgments and rational decisions. You make the right decision and lead your team and organization with strength when you have a high level of self-awareness. All you need is to build that habit of mindfully recognizing your emotions when you make work and life decisions.
Leading with EI requires beyond just recognition of your emotions, you need to manage and take advantage of its existence. To do so, you can build ground rules to self-regulate and discipline yourself. Self-regulation helps you control impulses and emotions as they arise and ensures these emotions help you make better decisions. Remember to recognize triggers in your emotions and have a list of responses in your mind for each emotion. For example, when you are angry, your response can be leaving the room or delaying your decision making to a later time.
You recognize and regulate your emotions, but that’s not it. You need to create emotions and maintain them as well. Leaders are self-motivated and you need to build the energy needed to pursue your personal and organizational goals. EI’s third component is motivation and you must have it to lead your team members with passion and motivate them to work toward common organizational goals.
You can’t do business or work in isolation. Your life and work involve people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and emotions. The fourth component of EI is empathy which refers to your ability to understand and acknowledge emotions and thoughts of your peers, colleagues, friends, and life counterparts. As the renowned Austrian doctor, Alfred Adler put it, “Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” To lead people and organizations, make empathy a part of your life and continuously recognize and respect others’ emotions.
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.”
Are leaders born or made? This is a question that many of you may have faced. The answer is both. Certain attributes are God-given while others can be learned. Ability to connect with people and build rapport are skills that you can acquire through practice and experience. EI’s fifth component is social skills, the ability to lead larger groups, build relationships, and augment group performance.
Robert K. Cooper once said:
“Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.”
Good luck building stronger EI.