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One very important character requirement in leaders is Emotional Intelligence.

In simple terms, EI is your ability to understand your emotions and those of others. It reflects your ability to manage your emotions and your ability to connect with people. For instance, a person may be highly qualified and well-experienced for a particular job profile, but if he / she is not able to emotionally connect with people and situations, then it is highly unlikely that he / she would be a successful leader. In other words, for individuals to become effective leaders, they will need a high level of emotional intelligence.

Why is it important?

Since 1990s, a lot of research has been done on emotional intelligence. Studies have shown a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, retention and performance. Research has identified emotional intelligence as a combination of the following skills:

· perceiving and expressing emotions,

· understanding emotions,

· using emotions, and

· Managing emotions

Employers are now more aware that skills like math, logical reasoning and analytical abilities need to be supported with a high level of emotional intelligence for a successful leadership role.

Here are five factors that are critical in improving and developing your emotional intelligence:

1. Self-Awareness

You must learn to be aware of your own emotions, what causes them and how you react to them. Segregate your emotions into strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness will develop skills that will help to manage your own emotions, allowing you to respond more effectively to situations that come up. Individuals with a healthy sense of self-awareness are "comfortable in their own skins".

A good leader should be able to engage their thinking capacity to come up with better decisions instead of reacting to emotions.

2. Empathize

Self-awareness of leaders increases with the awareness of the emotions of others around them. a good understanding of how awareness of emotions are created, and how they influence people will teach you how not to be personal with other people’s emotions such as anger. A good leader should be able to empathize and connect with people.

3. Listening Skills

The emotions behind the words are often more important than the actual words spoken. People feel that they are being heard only when those emotions are acknowledged.

Do not think of a response while others are speaking. Instead cultivate the habit of listening. By this, you will be focused enough to measure the speaker's feelings. An important method for developing listening skills is summarizing what you think you heard the speaker say and ask for clarifications if in doubt.

4. Awareness of Body Language

The ability to understand body language and other non-verbal communications will help you to tune in to others' feelings and emotions. Watch for facial expressions, eye movements and tone of voice.

Fear of job loss, losing co-workers, rumors of financial problems in the organization, and various other factors are common in every workplace and affect the emotional well-being of staff. Learn to be pay attention to the emotions of your work place.

5. Ability to Anticipate Reactions and Respond Effectively

Learn how to deal with various workplace situations. Quick and effective respond before any damage is done is very important. Practice how to communicate effectively and with sensitivity.

Developing your emotional intelligence skills is not something you can learn by reading a book or an article. It takes training, practice and reinforcement. To be a successful leader you have to master your own state of being before you try to lead others.

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