The strong correlation between emotional intelligence and managerial skills has instigated speculation as to whether managers must possess proficient emotional intelligence, namely, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in the areas of self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy and social awareness (Rahim et al. 2002), in order to manage successfully in the workplace.
The purpose of this essay is to explore the role emotional intelligence plays in one’s ability to effectively manage a workplace. Managers must possess a high degree of emotional intelligence to manage successfully for a myriad of reasons.
Managers who exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence and an awareness of how their actions will impact others are more proficient at resolving conflict within the workplace. Furthermore, a high level of emotional intelligence within the workplace, promoted by managers who encourage said environment, increases the employee’s job satisfaction which in turn results in greater productivity.
A manager who can effectively communicate, conscious of the emotions of others will ultimately prove to be a more successful leader in the workplace. A self-awareness of how one’s actions can influence others, inherent of a manager’s high emotional intelligence allows them to manage successfully within the workplace by allowing effective conflict resolution. Emotions play a crucial role in conflict, as ‘all conflict is inherently emotional’ (Jordan & Troth 2004, pp. 200) .
The relationship between emotional intelligence and conflict management strategies has been explained by various organisational theories, the findings of which have many practical applications within the workplace. Those who possess a higher degree of emotional intelligence are able to resolve conflict more effectively, by adopting an approach which can fulfil the emotional needs of both parties.
If an individual lacks a self-awareness of their emotions and an inability to control such emotions further conflict will often arise.
Thus, an emotionally intelligent manager will have “superior conflict resolution skills and engage in greater collaboration… to develop new solutions that satisfy both parties’ needs” (Jordan & Troth 2004, pp. 201). Social skills are a vital aspect of emotional intelligence, associated with one’s ability to resolve problems without demeaning employees, to prevent negative emotions inhibiting collaboration “and to handle affective conflict with tact and diplomacy” (Rahim et al. 2002, pp. 5). Managers who use their own emotional competencies can support their employees to improve their problem solving capacities.
An employee’s perception of their manager is determined by factors such as the manager’s communication skills, conscientiousness within the workplace and social capabilities. Such a perception can have a positive influence on the employee’s conflict resolution capabilities and problem solving strategies. Thus, enhancing the emotional intelligence of managers within the workplace proves to be beneficial for contemporary organisations as it provides managers with the appropriate skills to resolve conflict with integrity and also provides a positive example to employees, encouraging them to adopt a similar approach.
Statistical evidence carried out by Jordan and Troth (2004) corroborates this notion stating that those with a higher WEIP (Workplace Emotional Intelligence Profile) adopted more cooperative conflict management strategies. Mangers who exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence promote a positive workplace environment in which the employees have a high level of job satisfaction, subsequently resulting in a lower staff turnover rate.
A high level of job satisfaction within an organisation is an extremely desirable quality. According to Brunetto et al. (2012 pp. 429) employees who are content within the workplace exhibit increased productivity, lower levels of absenteeism and have lower turnover intentions. Furthermore, employees with high levels of job satisfaction display greater organisational commitment to their occupation, in which an employee identifies with their workplace and its objectives and wishes to maintain membership in the organisation.
Managers who have substantial emotional intelligence are more likely to instil their employees with a higher level of job satisfaction as the managers are more proficient at controlling and assessing their own emotions and those of others in the workplace, which in turn increases morale and job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is vital within the workplace as it is inextricably linked to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Employees who experience high levels of job satisfaction can through their attitude instil a sense of customer satisfaction and loyalty which in turn escalates profitability and revenue growth.
Therefore, an emotionally intelligent manager is more successful in the workplace as they increase the job satisfaction of their employees resulting in numerous benefits for the organisation including a low turnover rate and increased customer loyalty. An emotionally intelligent manager, with the ability to understand emotions in their self and others, will prove to be a successful leader. Moods and feelings play a vital role in the leadership process thus a strong aptitude for emotional intelligence is required of managers to be successful within the workplace.
Whilst there is no singular theory of effective leadership, essential elements include collective objectives, instilling an appreciation of work behaviours and generating enthusiasm and optimism (George 2000). Managers with apt emotional intelligence are more capable in communicating their goals for the organisation in a manner that enhances a collective sense of enthusiasm. For example, a manager who exhibits high emotional intelligence may adopt such knowledge implies that employees have a tendency to be “supportive of the leader’s goals and objectives when the leader expresses con? ence in followers and serves to elevate their levels of self-ef? cacy” (George 2000, pp. 1040). Whilst accurately appraising employee’s emotions and influencing followers’ emotions can result in support for the leader’s objectives, there can also be negative repercussions. Managers who are so in tune to emotional needs of their employees “can be manipulative and emotionally demanding” (Ashkanasy & Daus 2002, pp. 81), particularly when the employees are susceptible to such exploitation.
This behaviour can often result in mistrust and suspicion within the workplace, which can lessen the manager’s effectiveness. Furthermore, the decisive emphasis placed on the importance of emotional intelligence in being a successful leader can be problematic, as it drives the notion that emotional intelligence is the only characteristic required to be a successful leader and can misconstrue the realities of organisational leadership. It must be noted that despite the numerous characteristics encompassed by emotional intelligence which are associated with effective leadership, they aren’t an exhaustive list.
Other factors, namely actual intelligence, are fundamental to effective leadership and critical to organisational success, including business success (Locke 2005). For the numerous reasons outlined, emotional intelligence is very important, indeed a necessary requirement, in the list of positive attributes a manager must possess for successfully managing employees in the workplace.
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