Being a leader of any team is not an easy job. Having done it myself a number of times, I understand the strains and pressures that it can put upon you.

The great thing is there may be an aspect of leadership that you are overlooking. A core competence that could make your life easier, your work smoother and your team exceptional.

Through no fault of your own, you may have missed out on this because it is not necessarily part of the mainstream idea of what team leadership is.

When running teams in the past I used to find coping with the varied personalities extremely challenging.  It would sometimes cause me many hours of worrying was I doing the right thing for X employee.

This is when I looked for a different approach. I came across the value of emotional intelligence.

What is it?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

It is generally said to include three skills:

  1. emotional awareness;
  2. the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving;
  3. and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

Definition taken from Psychology today.

OK, So Why Is It So Important To Team Leadership?

Traditionally the idea of putting together a high performing team may have followed a thought process such as…

  1. Identify smart, successful and hardworking individuals.
  2. Attract said individuals into our team
  3. Mould the super abilities and intelligence of the individuals into an uber high performing team.

Seems sensible. More intelligence in the team, the better the collective.

Well, surprisingly new research demonstrates that’s simply not that case at all.

Step In The Behemoth That Is Google

A few weeks back I wrote a blog on the research carried out by Google into what makes a team high performing. If you don’t fancy going back and reading the whole thing, I shall sum it up in a delightfully pithy manner for you right here.

They studied a whole array of different types of high performing teams to look for similarities. Their natural starting point was the makeup of the team. Does a collection of highly intelligent people perform better than those not as “intelligent”? The answer is no.

Following this, they needed to look for other reasons. What they ultimately found is that the teams that performed best had, at the heart of them, a culture of “psychological safety”. This means that people felt comfortable to share ideas, receive feedback and support each other.

This culture is borne out of a high level of emotional intelligence within the team. Knowing how you feel, others feel and how to behave in order to include people, was the number one factor that predicted success.

Emotions Are At The Heart Of It

Further research has backed this up. A study carried out this year by Six Seconds, a global not for profit organisation for emotional intelligence has similar findings but uses the term trust rather than psychological safety. Teams within which people feel trusted and reciprocate that trust with their leaders significantly outperform other teams.

The study found that 62% of business performance can be predicted by the level of trust. However, it was found that it is deemed to be low in many organisations.

In addition to this, it was found that mood was another highly important indicator of performance.

Finally, 70% of those interviewed stated that their main issues in the workplace were of an emotional/relational nature.

All these findings highlight the absolute necessity of understanding emotions in oneself and within others. If you can foster an environment of trust, safety, and positivity, you will find that your team can perform great things.

What Next?

It may not come as a surprise that many people are too busy “doing” to worry about such flaky ideas. But the reality is having enough emotional intelligence to build the right environment in your team is an absolute essential. It is like saying “I am too busy building the rooms to worry about the foundations.”  

If you want to lead a great team and achieve amazing things, it is important you start to look at your emotional intelligence. How can you develop this skill in yourself? What can you do to understand your emotions and others better?

If you can master this skill you can build high performing teams again and again. It will also give you an edge over others because even with everything that is now known about the value of emotional intelligence it is still a rarity in the workplace.