ATLANTA, GA – April 1, 2022 – While the last two years of the pandemic have brought plenty of strife and uncertainty for people all over the world, the ongoing war in Ukraine, threats of COVID variants, and continued economic volatility have shown that challenging dynamics are here to stay. These real-world issues don’t exist in a vacuum and can impact personal wellbeing and professional performance – highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence for today’s business leaders.
Deepak “Dee” Agarwal, business leader and long-time entrepreneur, has had many experiences navigating companies through uncertainties within the marketplace and larger economy. In each of these experiences, he has had to leverage emotional intelligence to also manage the emotions of his team.
“I firmly believe that business leaders should be open about how they manage their feelings,” says Dee Agarwal. “The outside world doesn’t cease to exist when we come to work. It’s important that leaders model both emotional maturity and humanity, especially in times of uncertainty or unrest.”
Dee Agarwal recently shared three reasons why emotional intelligence is so critical to executive leadership.
Handling Difficult Situations
Managing emotions is essential in any situation, but it is even more critical when times get tough. Leaders who can stay calm and level-headed under pressure will be better able to make positive decisions and support their team through difficult times. When employees face a challenging situation, they look to their leader for guidance. If the leader is stressed out or emotional, it will only add to the magnitude of the problem.
“Handling emotions is not just about dealing with difficult situations, though,” says Dee Agarwal. “Leaders who have emotional intelligence are also better able to build relationships with their teams. They understand that people are more likely to be motivated and productive when they feel supported and appreciated.”
By showing empathy and understanding, leaders can create a positive work environment that encourages employees to give their best effort, even during difficult times.
The ability to navigate change is an essential skill in a business landscape that is constantly in flux. Leaders who can adapt quickly and effectively will be better prepared to face future challenges. Emotional intelligence helps leaders to be more flexible and adaptive, and even lessens the likelihood of them becoming emotional or defensive when things change.
Leaders who have emotional intelligence also understand that change is often difficult for employees. They take the time to listen to their team and help them through the transition. These leaders may also offer incentives or rewards to help motivate employees during times of transition and adaptation.
“Guiding a team through a major change or transition presents a real test for many leaders,” explained Dee Agarwal. “Not only do leaders need to manage their own emotions, but also help manage the experiences of their team. By focusing on the human elements of the business and the motivations of the team, leaders can develop the emotional IQ necessary to navigate all manners of complexity.”
Nonverbal cues are an important part of how we communicate and express our true feelings and thoughts. Leaders who only rely on what has been explicitly stated are likely to miss critical indications that things are off track or that certain team members are struggling or not fully digesting information.
“It can be hard to understand what may go unsaid, but leaders with strong emotional intelligence learn how to process what is communicated by body language and even silence,” says Dee Agarwal. “By developing active listening skills and being attuned to the subtle shifts in demeanor, leaders can evolve their ability to connect with and engage employees in ways that resonate.”
While many leaders may not be directly evaluated on emotional intelligence, their command of these humanizing and business-critical skills is a strong predictor of their future success.