EQ for Executives

The last century’s economic rollercoaster has made the no-nonsense hardball CEO a popular choice. The decisive, eat-the-weak-for breakfast types give us a sense of security and appeases concerns about economic insecurity to external parties. However these types are no fun to work for and those that work with them are often diminished to yes-men whose contributions are wasted.

Executives in these positions often become so wrapped up in meeting targets and keeping investors happy that they neglect the softer skills that are necessary for creating top performance environments. Successful executives get to where they are by driving results, but once they are there, a shift is required: they now achieve results through others. The focus must shift from personal achievement to a wider vision of interpersonal leadership.

Yet it is ironic that CEO’s are said to have the lowest EQ scores, despite being the group that needs to be most adept at emotional intelligence. The higher one climbs above middle management, the more companies focus on metrics to make hiring decisions. Monetary achievements are no doubt important, but they are often once-off and short-term. Interpersonal skills and the ability to inspire others to excel is a strategy for leadership longevity. Often those individuals sitting in the C-suite lack the same access to teams and meaningful interactions as managers sitting at the coalface. Their EQ’s erode as more pressure is placed on them to perform and uphold the standards that got them there in the first place. The emotional states of those at the top filter down through the company to all levels of employees and ultimately damage morale and productivity.

We can all benefit from EQ-boosting strategies:-

Show you care

There is no weakness in showing care or appreciation. Because every cog in the system is vital, a quick email or pat on the back can show employees that their efforts are recognized and appreciated.

Manage yourself, before you manage others.

Being in a position of power means having the responsibility to manage your own emotions and reactions before projecting expectations onto others. Being aware of how our emotions affect others and how an individual can create difficult situations for others, is a key component of emotional intelligence. Outbursts, rudeness and stress affect the collective mood.  By taking stock of your reactions, you take responsibility for keeping the team positive and productive.

Acknowledge others’ emotions.

Assertive executives avoid dismissing their employees’ emotions.  By acknowledging and listening to their staff, their people feel understood not by a superior but on a fundamental empathic level, which facilitates recovery and moving forward.

Get real sleep

This may seem like a no-brainer – we’ve been told this since we were born but in high-pressure situations work follows us home, we work late and the stress lingers and gets in the way of recovery time. Top performing individuals need to take time to rejuvenate and spend time away from the stresses of the work environment, so that when they return they are fresh and well rested.

Avoid negative thinking

Having a positive attitude is a core component to successful leadership. They may just be thoughts, but they have tremendous power on the perception of the capabilities of the self and others. Negative talk limits the perceived possibilities and frames reality as negative, turning challenges into impossibilities.

Cultivating these emotional habits will elevate you as an individual and leader and improve your decision-making skills. Many leaders dismiss emotion as an inappropriate tool for decision making but in doing so, discard a fundamental tool used to assess our surroundings and relate to others.

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This article was written by Sarah Mason, Social Media Strategist at Business Essentials for Executive Headlines.