The modern working environment has evolved into such a dynamic and diverse environment that the role of a manager has evolved to much more than just overseeing tasks and operations. The effectiveness of managers, and as a consequence, the organisations they work for, goes beyond just technical skills and deeply extends into the realm of emotional intelligence. This often underestimated, and sometimes misunderstood trait has emerged as a key factor in achieving optimal organisational performance.

Emotional intelligence, abbreviated as “EI”, refers to the capacity of an individual to recognise, comprehend, manage, and utilise both personal and others’ emotions effectively. The components that comprise emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. By having or knowing how to utilise these various components, managers can navigate complex interpersonal dynamics, foster a positive work environment, and elevate employee engagement. This aspect plays a vital role in organisational performance and success.

At the core of every exceptional leader lies a high degree of emotional intelligence. Managers who possess strong emotional intelligence are not only aware of their own strengths and limitations but also capable of understanding and responding to the emotions of their team members. This self-awareness allows them to lead from a place of authenticity which in turn translates into building trust and rapport within their teams.

Self-regulation, another crucial facet of emotional intelligence, equips managers to manage their emotions and reactions even in high-pressure situations. This attribute prevents impulsive decisions and ensures that managers maintain a composed demeanour. Maintaining a composed demeanour is essential to ensure employees remain focused and avoid becoming frazzled by challenging situations.

Professional empathy has become a much-talked-about concept crucial to emotional intelligence in the modern working environment. Managers who can empathise with their employees create a work environment characterised by understanding and mutual respect. By knowing how to practice professional empathy effectively, managers can facilitate smoother communication, address concerns promptly, and foster a culture of open dialogue, positively contributing to an engaged workforce. When employees feel valued, heard, and understood, they are more likely to be motivated, committed, and willing to put in extra effort.

In addition, managers with high emotional intelligence can better motivate employees, which leads to employees being more inspired. Furthermore, managers with strong emotional intelligence can tap into the emotional aspects of their employees’ aspirations, aligning individual goals with the organisation’s objectives and creating a synergistic relationship between the two, leading to organisational performance.

In any workplace, conflicts are inevitable. However, managers with strong emotional intelligence can address conflicts constructively, leveraging their understanding of emotions to find common ground and solutions. By approaching conflicts with empathy and a calm demeanour, managers with emotional intelligence can turn potentially disruptive situations into opportunities for growth and learning.

Lastly, managers who value and encourage diverse perspectives create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, thereby creating an environment of collaboration. This, in turn, leads to more innovative solutions and efficient processes, ultimately enhancing organisational performance.

The current business landscape has shown that the role of a manager transcends mere task delegation. It hinges on emotional intelligence, an attribute that underpins effective leadership, boosts employee engagement, and fosters a collaborative work environment.

In the constant pursuit of optimal organisational performance, companies must recognise the vital role that emotional intelligence plays in nurturing a culture of trust, empathy, and open communication. As companies continue to navigate the path to success, one constant remains a crucial element in achieving success: Managers with emotional intelligence.

By Daniel van der Merwe

National Collective Bargaining Coordinator at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)