Emotional intelligence leadership team

7 ways to improve your team’s emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) helps leaders to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and create a positive work environment. Yet, despite a team leader’s penchant for emotional intelligence, it can be difficult to inspire within a team.

People with high emotional intelligence are able to empathize with other team members, build strong relationships, and inspire and motivate each other. They are able to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and make better decisions.

You can’t control how someone else feels or behaves. But if you can identify the emotions behind their behavior, you’ll have a better understanding of where they are coming from and how to best interact with them. (“What is emotional intelligence and how does it apply to the workplace?” Mental Health America)

Emotional intelligence also enables teams to adapt to changing situations and build resilience. Teams that exemplify this high-level skill are more likely to succeed in achieving their goals.

How to inspire emotional intelligence among your team members

1. Lead by example.

As a team leader, model emotional intelligence by exhibiting self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication. Be self-aware and view things objectively. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and act with humility.

2. Encourage open communication.

Open and honest communication within the team can help foster a sense of connection and empathy among team members.

3. Practice active listening.

Have you ever been in a meeting with a domineering leader who shuts her team members down? And have you noticed how seldom those team members volunteer ideas on projects and in meetings in the future?

No dictators here! When team members feel heard and understood, they are more likely to communicate openly and respond positively to feedback. According to Verywell Mind, active listening techniques include:

  • Being fully present in the conversation
  • Showing interest by practicing good eye contact
  • Noticing (and using) non-verbal cues
  • Asking open-ended questions to encourage further responses
  • Paraphrasing and reflecting back what has been said
  • Listening to understand rather than to respond
  • Withholding judgment and advice

4. Provide opportunities for feedback.

Gone are the days when leaders communicate strictly through annual reviews. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help team members share their feelings and provide constructive feedback to one another and to leadership.

At the end of a project or some other milestone, ask the team how they think things went and, most importantly, how productivity could be improved the next time around. Keep the general conversation constructive, and if team members need to vent certain frustrations of a more personal nature, give them open opportunities to reach out to you personally.

5. Foster a positive culture.

We’ve all witnessed the inherent discomfort from the resentment, fear, and passive-aggression within a broken team culture. A positive team culture can encourage emotional intelligence by promoting trust, respect, and compassion. 

6. Invest in team development.

Offer training and development opportunities that focus on emotional intelligence, such as conflict resolution or communication skills. Ensure also that, if team members wish to enhance their work skills, they are given access to free educational resources—even better if they can work in groups while taking classes and workshops.

7. Celebrate success together.

Celebrating successes as a team can help foster a sense of connectedness, trust, and EQ among team members. But the form that celebration takes will vary by team.

Personally, company picnics and other forms of “enforced fun” aren’t my idea of a reward. Ask your team members how they define rewards—extra PTO, a trip, evening drinks, a learning opportunity, gift cards to local businesses…? Get creative with it!

Part of an Agile team?

Emotional intelligence is a priority within Agile teams. Agile relies heavily on teamwork and open communication both within the team and with external stakeholders. Agile leaders must embody this high-level skill to lead the most successful teams and ensure the highest quality results.

Looking to build EQ within your team? We can definitely help! Check out our People services.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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