EQ for GoFYI

Emotional intelligence makes the best leaders

In a world that is transcending boundaries, people of all sorts come together at the workplace. And to make that an effective organisation, the key parameter is the emotional quotient that leaders have, or need to have. This article talks about the key points related to emotional intelligence, sympathy and empathy, and importance of empathy in leadership.

By Dr (Prof) Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, WeSchool


Emotional intelligence, as Wikipedia puts it, is the ability to recognise one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide one’s thinking and behaviour.

This many sound blasphemous, but it is true. It is not that the leaders have a fair amount of emotional quotient, but it is quite the other way round. People with decent levels of emotional quotient make it to top positions of responsibility. Life presents us choices; based on our selections, our graph takes shape. These selections are largely driven by our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence reflects how mature our choices are — in our actions, reactions and responses to stimuli we get, external or internal. Encouraging emotional intelligence in the workforce has become one of the core policy stands of present businesses and organisations

Emotional Intelligence: How it can help

Failure may be frustrating to some, but to a few, it may be inspiring, drawing out persistence and perseverance. Our positive experiences get morphed into habits and philosophy that govern us, giving a shape to our thought process. In the context of workplace hierarchy, after a certain level, intelligence is a given. Emotional quotient then becomes the decisive variable.

All of us have seen people who seem to be blessed with magnanimous doses of equanimity. They seem quite unperturbed, even in the face of most challenging of circumstances. You never hear their voice wavering. These are the blessed ones with lavish emotional intelligence. They know how to deal with emotions — their own and others — and how to make these work to their advantage and mitigate a crisis on hand. They are open to contrary views and are accessible. And these are the people the world wants to be with, or at least, the majority wants to be with.

Emotional Quotient: Its importance 

Emotional intelligence makes one amicable and adds fluidity (adaptability) to one’s personality. It can be a crucial element in team-play. Leaders, professionals and managers should have the flexibility of working in eclectic teams, which are cross sections of the globe, performing with ease amidst diverse mindsets that may be brilliant yet seem opposable at times. Hence, they need to be emotionally intelligent and sorted out. It has been very aptly said that people are hired for their high IQ and fired for their low EQ. Emotions take away your clairvoyance and the ability to see clearly because you are looking at things through affected lenses.

Organisations and EQ

Hence, Emotional Intelligence has as crucial a role to play, if not more, as the core craft. It is also one of the important metrics used to identify people when they are hired for crucial roles and vertical movement. High EQ people are a breeze — they are pleasant to work with, prudent and pragmatic. They naturally draw out support from their colleagues and others.

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Considering the global element, fast-fading international boundaries, and multinational teams collaborating on projects of immense value, will it be wise to lose out on them simply because of inappropriate handling of emotions? Also, it isn’t only about the goal and its accomplishment, emotional intelligence renders the journey towards the goal very pleasant. Hence, even the parameters based on which professionals are scanned and gauged have evolved to include emotional quotient as a significant element. How good and effective a team player one is, and his adeptness with emotions to get things moving towards organisational goals, have become some serious requirements in the minds of the top management. And the approach is quite justified too.

Competition to Cooperation

The times we are living in are marked with immense opportunities for growth. There are new and unexplored vistas of progress and opportunities. Cooperation from different players has been proved to be a multiplier force, and the impact grows exponentially. We have experienced it firsthand, in our collaborations with some of the best known players across the globe. Every time, we have been pleasantly surprised by the end results. We have been able to make impactful presence in fields as diverse as renewable waste management, health, rural management, innovation and many others, because we believed in the power of collaboration and concerted efforts. It brings the best brains and boundless resources together. It breaks the isolation and busts the myth of a siloed existence. The challenge of the crunch is always preceded with help pouring in from some quarter or the other.

Sympathy and Empathy

Collaborations need a common thread that connects. And it is an established fact that empathy — the ability to connect with and relate to others — is a great propeller for businesses. Putting oneself in the situation others might be going through gives us a fair glimpse of what it may be for them to be in that given situation. To some, the concept of empathy might appear tangential to the concept of a traditional workplace, marked with competition and the race to the top. But the fact remains that for a leader to be successful and effective, it is imperative to relate to his/her stakeholders.

Importance of empathy in leadership

The downtrend comes when leaders get so insulated in their world that they become oblivious to the needs, emotions and sentiments of the people. A leader is a leader because of the people following him willingly. And this happens when one knows what they have in their heads and hearts. Empathy is that window that gives one this needed tool. Empathy should be an important element of all business communication and deliberations. Leaders need to have open mindsets, affability and accessibility to some extent to get a feel of the pulse of their workforce. Empathy begets commitment and a sense of being a part of the organisation. It draws out the best.

Empathy involves understanding and relating to others, respecting their sentiments and needs and viewpoints. It asks for attitudinal magnanimity and graciousness in the thought process to consider new thoughts and beliefs. It establishes a connection with the other person. And the benefits are immense. It is a professional imperative that leads to enhanced productivity and commitment.

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How EQ and spiritual intelligence can help

Spirituality is not an antediluvian concept. It is actually the most practical aspect of business today. It gives a righteous character and acts as a beacon on our actions, particularly for those who have the power to make a difference. It pronounces the sanctity of a righteous and prudent behaviour — a model pattern of thoughts and actions that will create positivity, peace of mind and deliver results. And don’t all the professionals under the sun covet these! So why would we close our eyes to the practice of a spirituality-enthused work culture?

Spirituality doesn’t ask for difficult contortions. It is a simple and affable way aimed at making our deliberations chaos-free, effective, positive and righteous. It is spirituality that gives that humane touch to business deliberations. All talks of societal impact, ecological concerns, reaching out to the billions who have been unfortunately left out of economic up-trends will fizzle out in the presence of such spiritual awareness.

Most of our policies have a distinct spiritual element to them, though the real rationale gets diluted after a while. Spirituality is the kernel of reservations for the weaker sections. CSR talks of empathy at the workplace and similar stances. It is another thing that after some time, these need to be updated appropriately. But we see them more as policies and clauses. Give it a thought. The outreach programmes and many similar initiatives have spirituality as their essence.

Emotional intelligence and spirituality are quite parallel concepts and give a humane touch to the business world. And of course, they bring about a boost to productivity, which all business heads always cherish.