We all know that effective leadership is crucial for success in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape. So at the back end of 2022, we did research (called ‘Make Work Better’) to find out what support people really need to help them perform at their best. And we found that middle managers were feeling particularly challenged. In fact, they are most likely to say they had experienced burnout and least likely to say they had a good work-life balance.
Our research showed that top-level executives and CEOs felt their managers didn’t have the ability to help deliver what their teams needed, while managers felt they hadn't had the training they needed to do so. But here at PUSH, we believe that middle managers are the heart of your company: they are the ones that touch so much in terms of your product and people and can absolutely execute on a vision with the right tools and skillsets.
And while technical skills and strategic thinking are of course essential, emotional intelligence (EI) has emerged as a key differentiator for exceptional managers.
Understanding the Benefits of Emotional Intelligence at Work
Emotional intelligence encompasses the ability to understand and manage emotions, both in oneself and others, and it plays a vital role in creating a positive work environment, building strong relationships, and driving team performance.
There are four key components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence possess a deep understanding of their own emotions and can effectively regulate them. They are attuned to the emotions of others, show empathy, and excel at building and maintaining meaningful relationships.
When leaders prioritise and exhibit emotional intelligence in the workplace, they will see a number of positive outcomes including:
- Improved Communication: Emotional intelligence enhances communication skills, leading to clearer and more effective exchanges, reducing misunderstandings, and promoting collaboration.
- Increased Employee Engagement: Leaders who understand and connect with their employees on an emotional level foster higher levels of engagement, motivation, and job satisfaction.
- Enhanced Conflict Resolution: Leaders with high emotional intelligence can defuse conflicts and address disagreements constructively, fostering a more harmonious work environment.
- Stronger Relationships: Emotional intelligence enables leaders to build strong and trusting relationships with their team members, promoting more loyalty and greater employee retention.
Five Ways to Foster Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence and it requires people to really focus on what is going on inside of us. Encouraging your managers to engage in self-reflection and introspection will allow them to gain a deeper understanding of their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and impact on others.
According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, ‘when managers are self-aware, they are better equipped to recognise the impact of their behaviour on others and make adjustments to improve team dynamics and performance.’
You can help managers facilitate self-awareness by providing constructive feedback, encouraging self-assessment, and promoting mindfulness practices like meditation or journaling.
Practice Empathetic Listening
Empathetic listening, defined as the practice of being attentive and responsive to others' input during conversations, involves paying full attention, understanding their emotions, and responding with genuine empathy.
Managers who practice empathetic listening can create an environment where team members feel more valued, understood, and supported.
Empathy and social skills don’t come naturally to everyone, so it’s crucial you help upskill managers in this regard. Encouraging them to set aside distractions, maintain eye contact, and demonstrate active listening skills, such as paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions, will go a long way.
Promote Collaboration and Teamwork
According to management experts, fostering an environment of psychological safety is invaluable as it makes people feel comfortable raising issues and encourages a more overall positive work culture. However, creating such an environment does not happen overnight — it requires a consistent focus on trust over a prolonged period of time.
Encourage your middle managers to promote teamwork by creating opportunities for team members to collaborate, provide constructive feedback, and engage in open dialogue.
Lead by Example
As with any newly learnt habit, the best way to get it to stick is to lead by example and model the behaviours you expect from others.
For managers, this means displaying emotional intelligence in their own interactions as it will set the tone for the entire organisation. Leaders should strive to remain composed under pressure, manage conflicts effectively, and demonstrate empathy and understanding towards their team members. This helps create a culture where emotional intelligence is valued and embraced at all levels.
Encourage Continuous Learning
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to foster proper emotional intelligence in your middle managers, and the best way to do so is to attend workshops, seminars, or training programs focused on emotional intelligence, leadership development, and interpersonal skills.
By investing in their growth, you can enhance your managers’ ability to connect with others, understand diverse perspectives, and adapt their management approach accordingly. Luckily for you, we know just a thing or two about leadership wellbeing training.
Emotional Intelligence Training for Managers
In an era where organisational success is driven by human capital, emotional intelligence has emerged as a critical trait for effective leadership. By investing in training your managers to develop emotional intelligence, you will help them unlock their full potential, inspire their teams, and drive sustainable success in the dynamic business landscape of today and tomorrow.
As a training and coaching partner, PUSH pride ourselves in supporting companies to prepare their people to thrive in this new era of work. We offer sessions and programmes across development, leadership, mental health and wellbeing - taking a holistic view of what it truly means to make work better.
We offer a number of corporate mental health and wellbeing programmes, including our recently launched Management Behaviours Programme, which is a clinically-developed solution that equips managers with the necessary skills to cultivate, prioritise, and strengthen both communication and relationships in the workplace in order to unlock their teams' maximum potential. The programme has one module focusing solely on emotional intelligence:
Module 1: Fostering Emotional Intelligence
This session explores what emotional intelligence is and why it is at the heart of successful conscious leadership. Helping you to create a more creative, happier and less combative environment.
Discover the different ways we express ourselves and how a growing understanding of these subtle communication styles is the key to fostering stronger relationships. Learn simple techniques to re-frame situations, manage emotions and maintain clarity of thought through challenging situations.
Create a greater sense of self-awareness to enhance your leadership skills
Develop skills to manage your emotions and express yourself with authority and authenticity
Relationship management, how to inspire and motivate
An introduction to conscious leadership