5 Ways To Measure The Emotional Intelligence Of Your Boss

If you're interviewing for a new position, pay attention to these tips and help identify if a potential manager is a good leader.

Research has shown us that more than 90% of top leadership performers have a high amount of emotional intelligence or EI. The higher up the ladder that leaders are, the more people they impact and their EI becomes increasingly important. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates the organization, including the emotional temperature.

Not only does a leader with low emotional intelligence have a negative impact on employee morale, it directly impacts staff retention. We know that the biggest reason that people give for leaving an organization is the relationship with those above them.

Below are five ways to spot an emotionally intelligent boss.

1. Non Defensive and Open

Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. Aware of their own emotions

Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. Adept at picking up on the emotional state of others

A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others' emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. Available for those reporting to them

Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. Able to check their ego and allow others to shine

While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, speaker, and internationally published author of THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success. Follow him on Twitter at @Theeiguy

[Image: Flickr user Chris March]

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  • I left uni in 2008. Almost all my bosses from the professional graphic design jobs I've since then have displayed 4 or all of these issues. Have I been unlucky or is this to be expected? Do these traits show evidence of psychopathy that is meant to be common among senior executives?

  • David Gardner

    Those five things are great but instead of EQ, maybe the question should be, "Is your boss good at his job?" I have a great boss according to those questions but on the ACTUAL WORK end of it he's all over the map. I'd trade some emotional unavailability for efficient project manager any day.

  • Very true so - managing the daily challenges with a medium-/long-term perspective needs some additional skills. However seldom (from my personal experience over more than two decades in the work world) formally put into power bosses tend to have the necessary emotional skills at the required extend (depending on the culture of the organization).

    What seems often like an easy "go through" may haunt the organization at the later time with a time delay.

    In the end the employee is the customer of the boss, as he does the bottom work. The boss shall rather set the stage that things can be done efficiently, and effective.

    Just my 2-cents on this very exiting topic, which from my point of view needs more visibility in the business world.