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How Emotional Intelligence Enhances Decision-Making

Management, people development, and decision-making are creative activities that need a human touch.

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Emotional intelligence (EQ) has become a hot topic over the past decade, but many people don’t fully understand the concept. They often believe EQ is egocentric and requires only self-awareness and knowing their own core competencies. Managers feel that implementing EQ involves personal soul-searching and building empathy so that they can relate with their employees.

But self-work is only one part of the equation. Emotional intelligence requires that you recognize not only your own emotional strengths, but also your connection with emotional lives and the environment around you. It’s important to know your motivations, the motivations of others, and the way the environment affects both. As a leader, your role is to understand the why of your team members and make adjustments to the environment to help them succeed.

3 Elements that Contribute to Good Decision-Making

Current technologies automate much of business, but management, people development, and decision-making are creative activities that need a human touch. Managers must rely on practices that result in better decision-making:

1. Self-reflection

As a manager, you must reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. You might not be doing as well as you think. A recent Gallup poll found that only 24% of U.S. managers feel strongly that their peers make well-thought-out decisions for the company.

Incorporating emotional intelligence forces you to practice self-awareness. Imagine you are one of your peers, and objectively observe your behavior. Learn to recognize when it’s is counterproductive. Are you reacting in a certain way? What are your triggers?

As one researcher found, learning to be aware of our emotional triggers and curb them takes hard work and practice. Training yourself to be aware of physical changes when you become emotional and knowing when you most likely will become emotional are two ways to avoid problem situations.

2. Social recognition

Once you’ve reflected internally, it’s time to observe and investigate how your behavior affects your team. Ask for feedback and actively listen to what they say. What you hear may surprise or disappoint you, but the key is to see the impact of your management skills — the good and the bad.

One people-pleasing manager I worked with sought feedback and learned how one of his decisions had undermined a team member. It wasn’t easy to hear, but it provided him with perspective on his behavior that he wouldn’t otherwise have known.

You won’t know how well your management techniques work until you ask, and you should ask because fewer than 50% of decisions made by managers in their midcareer were rated successful, according to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review.

3. Designing an environment for success

Now that you have your internal and external assessments, it’s time to design an environment for success. Create structure within the day and the environment to address any of the information you’ve gathered.

If you find that you need accountability, design a system that tracks when an issue surfaces, the number of days until resolution, what that resolution was, and any subsequent impact to the team.

Continue to get feedback from your team and recognize when you avoid changing or facing criticism. The more solution-based you can be, the more upper management will recognize your efforts. This continued encouragement will only further push you and your team to success.

With increased emotional intelligence, you begin to spot the moments when you feel threatened and can stop the fight-or-flight impulse that leads to negative consequences. You can also stop your team from falling into these unintentional triggers and instead foster an environment that maximizes safety, productivity, and creativity. As a high-EQ leader, you know yourself, you have feedback from your peers and team, and you have designed an environment for success.

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