What skills do leaders need to help businesses thrive in a tough economic climate and a competitive marketplace?
Answering this question is a crucial step towards building a leadership team that can carry a company to success in the face of adversity.
Today, there are few people more qualified to answer it than the head of one of the most successful companies out there – Satya Nadella. He has been at the helm of Microsoft since 2014, and counts as one of the best tech CEOs in the world.
According to Nadella, it’s emotional intelligence in leaders that gives successful businesses an edge. Here’s how.
EQ Trumps IQ in Leaders
During the hiring process, emotional intelligence (EQ) is often seen as a nice ancillary trait in leaders, but not a priority.
However, according to Nadella, emotional intelligence in leaders supersedes just about every other quality, even IQ, when it comes to achieving sustainable success in the corporate world.
Speaking to a group of students, he emphasized: “In the long run, EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.”
Science backs him up. Recently, several studies have been published showing by academics showing just how crucial a quality EQ is in business leaders. In a Harvard Business Review synthesis, it emerges that companies that prioritize EQ see higher productivity and engagement among their team members.
So, how can emotional intelligence in leaders help your business thrive? According to Nadella, there are three main ways in which it elevates the culture and conversation among team members.
Help Team Members Find Their Voices
To begin with, one crucial way EQ can improve your team’s productivity is by helping members who would not normally contribute to a conversation find their voices.
Many leaders have a drive to forge ahead, to listen to those team members who are most actively contributing ideas and points of view. As a result, many voices get overlooked, and opportunities missed.
EQ can help them prevent this fallacy. Leaders with emotional intelligence are more likely to pause the conversation, look at those team members who have been quiet, and ask: “What is your opinion? What do you think?”
In many cases, this little push is all that people need to join the conversation and offer stunning new ideas and alternative perspectives that can immensely enrich the outcome.
Recognize Your Feelings, Lead Authentically
Another way in which emotional intelligence in leaders can benefit your team is that it allows them to lead authentically.
Introspection, self-reflection, and an honest inner conversation about their own feelings is something that many leaders struggle with. To the detriment of their teams.
Recognizing their feelings and processing them properly can help leaders become more resilient, flexible, and open. Instead of struggling to cover up their own insecurities and inner conflicts, they’ll be able to communicate openly and honestly with their teams. And to lead them authentically.
Admit Knowledge Gaps
Finally, a third manner in which emotional intelligence in leaders has a positive impact on companies is that it allows them to admit it when they don’t know something.
Everyone has worked under leaders who want to appear omniscient and infallible. They insist that they have a comprehensive view of the situation, and know exactly what to do. Even if they don’t. As a result, they take detrimental decisions with potentially disastrous outcomes.
EQ lets leaders own up to knowledge gaps and invites contributions from their team to fill them.
Not only does showing that they don’t know something make leaders much more approachable and human to their teams. It also motivates every team member to do their best to help out and highlight their own competences in the process.
The Bottom Line
According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, emotional intelligence in leaders is key.
It allows them to give voices to unheard team members, to lead with authenticity, and to build trust through admitting their own knowledge gaps. At the end of the day, this builds trust among team members, enhances the work climate, and elevates overall productivity.