Emotionally Intelligent Managers

Emotional intelligence is the ability to correctly interpret and deal with both your own emotions and the emotions of others, but why is it important in management?

One of the key roles of a manager is to communicate with colleagues in such a way that creates an effective and efficient workforce. Understanding and dealing with your own emotions is the first part of communicating well with others. For example, you are becoming stressed at work and a member of staff comes to your desk to ask a question – because you are stressed, you hastily tell them to come back later. Now that person leaves feeling confused, annoyed or even fearful which has a negative effect on their productivity.

Similarly, understanding and dealing with the emotions of others is the second and equally important, part of communicating well with others. For example, you are leading a team meeting and one of your subordinates is present but not contributing to the meeting. They are also frequently moving around in their seat, suggesting agitation. However, you decide that this is not your problem and do not offer help or show sympathy. This person is exhibiting signs of anxiety which could cause significant health problems if left untreated.

Being emotionally intelligent is easier for some people more than others as some managers tend to be more process and results driven however, it is something that you can learn to do. We have some tips on ways to be a more emotionally intelligent manager:

  1. Be aware of your emotions – take 5 minutes to sit back and think through what you are feeling. Are you stressed or upset – why? Are you happy or relaxed – why? It takes practice but it means you are better equipped for the next tip…
  2. Do not bring your negative emotions into your communication with others. This does NOT mean that you ignore your emotions altogether, however, it puts others in a more eased and ‘ready to work’ state. When someone comes to ask you something, show them that they have your undivided attention. (This can be difficult as we are all extremely busy but a great example can be found here –https://youtu.be/nCbe5x_92uE).
  3. Find an effective way of handling negative emotions. It may be doing exercise or finding a good book to read when you get home. If you are frequently experiencing overwhelming negative emotions, then seek advice from a GP.
  4. Be aware of other’s emotions – notice any changes in behaviour and read their body language. Presenteeism (being physically present but psychologically absent) is a common sign of anxiety and/or depression.
  5. Encourage others to talk. Even if there doesn’t seem any cause for concern, it is always good to be seen as approachable. Guide those in need to helpful resources both in and outside of the business.

You can help to develop your line managers' mental health knowledge and skills through our Mental Health Awareness for Managers Training or our Mental Health Awareness for Managers Online Training.

I am an undergraduate BSc Psychology student at the University of Birmingham. I am driven to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to encourage people to better identify and manage their mental health.

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