Posted by: Katrina Stewart

Posted on: .

Why emotional intelligence is the key to successful leadership

One of my new year’s resolutions was to start reading more on my 40 min train commute after 9 months off work to have my son. I’ve started reading The Harvard Business Review on Leadership, and it’s got me thinking not only about myself and my style of leadership, but how executive HR job seekers should not just be thinking about their technical and intellectual abilities, but to also think about demonstrating strong Emotional Intelligence. According to the research these are the leaders who succeed. Not that intelligence and technical skills don’t matter, however they are almost seen as a basic “threshold” once someone is operating at the executive level.

I meet senior HR professionals every day in my line of work. They are executives who have extensive technical abilities and their CVs demonstrate this. However, at the senior level within HR, leadership qualities are also required to empower an effective and productive workforce.

When meeting organisations about their executive hiring needs, they talk about the importance of the “right fit” for their organisation. What they are referring to is the emotional intelligence of the individual they will bring into their team.

So how can you evaluate Emotional Intelligence? In organisations this normally sits within HR to produce competency frameworks to assess leaders within their organisations and set programs on how to nurture and grow future ones. The main components for EI include Self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation and motivation.

When I talk to candidates I am shortlisting for assignments, many of them talk about being a motivational leader and delivering results by creating an engaging team. However, having read the chapter on EI I am interested in, and will start to interview candidates around self-regulation. In an uncertain, ever-changing economic climate, leaders need to manage the impulses that drives emotion.

HR Executives need to have self-regulation to take control when line managers need firm direction to achieve the right business outcome, especially in a highly regulated industry like financial services. Many bad actions happen in companies because of impulsive behaviour, and HR needs to lead the way in maintaining a high level of integrity.

According to the research, signs of emotional self-regulation are easy to see: a propensity for reflection and thoughtfulness, with the ability to control emotion through change and ambiguity.

As a specialist head-hunter for the HR profession, I would urge you to think about how you demonstrate Emotional Intelligence as a leader when being interviewed for a potential new role. Along with the psychometrics which follow to evidence this, I feel it would go a long way to set you apart from the competition and give you the “edge” and demonstrate the “right fit” the client is looking for.

Oakleaf Search and Interim Management Solutions offers a bespoke search solution, working with organisations to find the best in class HR and Associated People Services across all sectors, both in the UK and Internationally. Click here to find out more about Oakleaf's Executive Search team.


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