Examples of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
As personalities differ from person to person, the creation of emotional intelligence in the workplace takes effort. Anyone who has ever worked in a toxic work environment can attest to the importance of increasing empathy in this space. People with high emotional intelligence can lead the charge to multiply examples of EI in the workplace.
Here are some examples of what emotional intelligence in the workplace looks like:
- People express themselves openly and respectfully without fear of offending coworkers.
- Resilience is evident when new initiatives are introduced.
- Flexibility is present.
- Employees spend time together outside of work.
- Freedom of creativity is celebrated and consistent.
- Active listening in meetings is the norm.
- Employees will find a compassionate ear when needed, as we all have bad days.
An archaic perception of leadership would be that a leader must squash their emotions. In today’s workplace, an effective leader can monitor and utilize emotions in such a way to regulate and motivate not only themselves but those around them (Madrid, Niven, & Vasquez, 2019). Healthy workplace environments don’t happen by accident; they are intentional because leaders are intentional.
Examples of High Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
America’s old and ingrained belief that a good CEO or Executive level leader is ruthless has been replaced with the rise of humanity conscious leaders. New leaders in various industries have embraced a human-centered approach to leading their companies (Kennedy, Campis, & Leclerc, 2020; Pirson & Von Kimakowitz, 2010).
When employees are more deeply connected to a vision for their company, and they are cared for in a broad sense rather than just their production value, better working environments are created.
A leader could be the most intelligent person in the room, but without a high EI score, this leader may fail to motivate employees. The presence of positive mood in leaders at work creates more effective and broader thought processes in certain types of decision-making abilities (George, 2000). Conversely, negative moods foster improved systematic information processing.
A leader with high-level emotional intelligence can navigate not just motivating and empowering employees, but also navigating complex and challenging decision making with the mastery of emotional response (Rausch, Hess, & Bacigalupo, 2011).
In other words, a leader must have the ability to process emotion to make sound decisions. It doesn’t mean that the leader will always be in a positive mood. It means that when a complicated issue erupts, that leader may have an adverse reaction that can aid them in making a good decision despite that negative reaction.
An example of where a leader may have a negative reaction would be to the presence of sexual harassment in their workplace. Having an angry response to the knowledge of its existence gives the leader the ability to focus and affect change.
With such a complex and high-risk decision-making need, a leader must effectively process that anger to make the best decision possible for the office as a whole.
Leaders are generally responsible for the following:
- development of a collective sense of goals, and a strategic plan for achieving them
- instilling in others knowledge and appreciation of the importance of work activities and behaviors
- generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, and optimism as well as fostering cooperation and trust
- encouraging flexibility in decision making and embracing change
- establishing and maintaining a more profound, meaningful identity for the organization
Different emotions and moods serve different types of leadership situations. Developing a vision for an organization is a creative process. Positive affect enables the initiation of higher abilities for the utilization of creativity. Being able to communicate that vision to employees effectively is another use for emotional intelligence in leadership.
Here are four practical steps to creating vision in leadership:
- Be crystal clear about the desired destination, and identify values.
- Make the dream large. A good example is Disney; their vision is To Make People Happy.
- Communicate a strong purpose on multiple levels. Not all employees will feel the same about purpose. Offering various perspectives increases chances of organizational cultural connection.
- Set a strategic path for goal achievement.
When instilling the appreciation for work behaviors in employees, several levels are at play. A leader must be effective at communicating the problems being faced, in addition to relaying the confidence placed in those employees to solve problems within the bigger vision of the organization.
There are subtle emotional differences needed when interacting and communicating these with employees. A negative affect may allow for deeper reasoning when complex problems arise.
Here are four practical steps to help employees see the appreciation for their work behaviors:
- Create a focus on employee development. Employees will feel more purpose after skill mastery.
- Reinforce and reward learning behavior.
- Leaders show their own areas of development to lead the way.
- Encourage autonomy. Trust can develop when employees are allowed to make their own decisions in their work activities.
Generating enthusiasm in a workplace can be a difficult task as not all people are motivated and enthusiastic in the same way or on the same level. A leader with high emotional intelligence can read their employees’ accurate reactions well.
There’s no faking it where this generation is concerned. If people aren’t genuinely engaged in working for the vision, ambivalence and apathy can erupt.
Here are four practical steps to effectively build enthusiasm in an organization:
- Leaders share their optimism and belief in the “why” or vision with absolute passion.
- Create an environment where people want to give their very best effort.
- Allow space for employees to talk about their needs and desires concerning the company’s growth.
- Attitude will determine direction.
Leaders who have high levels of emotional intelligence will understand the derivation of emotion and will, therefore, flex when a different perspective is warranted. Having the ability to know that an activity that warrants different emotional states gives a leader the ability to show up with what is needed, when it is needed (Griffith, Connelly, Thiel, & Johnson, 2015).
The organization won’t benefit when a leader shows up to a creative meeting in a negative state. It will also not help when a leader shows up to excite the room, and the employees’ feelings and emotions are not being accurately assessed.
Here are four practical ways to build flexible thinking:
- Cultivate new experiences (daydreaming, etc.).
- Active listening and gathering opposing opinions.
- Be a participant in the cultivation, not just a spectator. Team effort counts.
- Engaging with employees and practicing flexible scenarios.
Culture is key for organizations. Volkswagen’s recent ad campaign for the Women’s World Cup is a great example. Their donation of ad space for meaningful causes shows the powerful connection the company has with purpose and that culture motivates employees to show up to create something emotionally charged.
Without culture, an organization will feel like work. With rich, deep, emotionally accurate culture, motivation is shared, and jobs aren’t so much work, as they are a purpose.
Here are four practical ways to improve culture:
- Utilize the performance/ values matrix with all employees (Edmonds, 2017).
- Demonstrate trust and respect for team members.
- Make values as important as results. For instance, integrity, kindness, and citizenship should be a part of the daily reality of the organization.
- Create an organizational constitution with a “servant” mentality in mind.