The role of a boss comes with great responsibility. Along with responsibility also comes many assumptions and expectations—one of which is that bosses have high skills because of their role. However, employees answer to their boss, a manager, or supervisor, based on their role, not their skills. Another assumption is that just because a person is a boss that they are also leaders, which is not necessarily true. Leadership requires many skill sets and an authentic way of moving and leading. It’s not just a title. And when skill differences vary dramatically in the workplace between employees and chosen management, having strong emotional intelligence can feel more like a curse than a blessing.
Whether natural talent or the result of concerted effort, those with high emotional intelligence (EQ) can find it challenging to interact with others who are reactive, argumentative, and unable to collaborate on teams effectively. These different levels of emotional intelligence naturally create conflicts and frustrations. Well-developed leaders with strong EQ skills whose employees have lower skills can struggle to develop and relate to their employees. And the reverse is also true. Employees can find themselves with a very immature and reactive boss.
Emotional Intelligence as a Tool to Lift Others
What if each interaction at work is an opportunity for everyone to hone their emotional intelligence skills? Whether between employees or between employees and their bosses, each challenge gives us a chance to practice mindful responses. With that mindset, everyone wins, including the company!
“A rising tide lifts all boats.” This expression is rooted in economics, but also has a strong relationship to the lasting effect of emotional intelligence. One’s ability to be aware of, modulate, express their emotions productively, and build strong interpersonal relationships, is key to success both personally and professionally. Modeling EQ skills for others is a great first step in helping others understand and gain the same skills for themselves. Emotional Intelligence, especially empathy, is best understood and learned when experienced through interactions with others.
“True leaders understand that leadership is not about
them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.”
~Sherri L. Dew
Three Positive Ways to Use Emotional Intelligence Skills with Your Boss
Leading can happen at all levels of a company, not just by those in high positions. How can you model emotional intelligence? From colleagues to clients to your boss to the company, you can help lift others by sharing your skills at work in ways that help lift those around you.
Related Reading: "What Is Leadership?"
1 Show Your Boss That You Care
Listening, responding, and showing empathy with your boss will speak volumes. Whether a CEO, COO, or a General Manager, he or she is also a person with beliefs, values, emotions, challenges, and struggles. Bosses can't wave a magic wand and separate their professional self from their personal self—and neither can you. You may have sharper tools in your toolbox to manage emotions and challenges, but you are all on the same team. Just as in sports, each player comes with their unique strengths (and shortcomings), and the coach oversees and guides the team, which can be a difficult job. So, consistently treat your boss with dignity. Respect and understanding illustrate your character and will strengthen your professional relationship.
Related Reading: Successful Businesses Are Led by Solid Empathetic Culture
Reactivity vs. responsiveness is indicative of lower emotional intelligence. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you were so excited about what you wanted to say that you were not listening? Ever catch yourself rehearsing what you will say while someone else is talking? Listening to speak is reactive. Attentive listening is about being present while truly hearing and understanding; it is responsiveness to another person. You are paying attention to what they are saying, what they are trying to convey, and their underlying emotions being expressed.
Another way that you can apply emotional intelligence is by responding respectfully with your boss’s changing tides. There are many ups and downs in business and many stressors that demand a lot from leadership positions. As leaders shift and grow, there may be significant fluctuations in how they move from deadlines to requests to demeanors. Show that you are there to support them through empathetic responses. Be willing to go the extra mile when they need you. When you think that they have reacted unfairly, respectfully tell them how they affected you and what would be helpful in the future. Observe and respond in ways that show they can count on you to have their back and get the job done.
3 Let Your Optimism and Motivation Shine
Attitude and how you carry yourself is often about perspective. Optimistic and motivated attitudes are infectious and can positively influence those around you. These attitudes also show a boss that you can handle challenges and keep a positive outlook in tough times. Staying calm and grounded when others react shows resilience. Your solidity and optimism are a perfect mirror for your boss, particularly if they don’t have a great attitude or outlook. When others feel and see someone that exudes positivity and gets things done, it often inspires others. At the very least, your positive calmness will assist to ground others. Negative attitudes are toxic to teams and can spread quickly, but so can positive energy and dispositions. Make sure your influence is felt positively.
Related Reading: “Why Emotional Intelligence Is Crucial in Business Today”
Demonstrating strong emotional intelligence skills won't change things overnight, but they will create a gradual shift in a team and often a boss. Every interaction is seeding for your co-workers and boss’s learning and growth. Consistency, persistence, and humility are key when modeling your emotional fitness in a way that can help your co-workers, and even your boss, grow their skills. Mastery leads come from within and shines outward. Using your skills to show others a better way can be their best teacher.
If you would like to sharpen your skills around emotional intelligence as an employee, business owner, or leader, call us at 406-577-2100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org about our business programs.