Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) can build better connected and motivated teams that can achieve their full potential.

With this complex ‘soft skill’ in place, colleagues feel able to trust each other, collaborate more effectively and are comfortable sharing their ideas, pushing boundaries, working outside of the box and taking action.

In a previous post, we started to look at each of the six key components of emotional intelligence, starting with Emotional Self-Awareness. Today we’ll be turning our vision and outwards to learn how emotional awareness of others can transform your power as a leader and visionary.

We’ll start by discussing what emotional awareness of others is and how you already have skills in this area that you could nurture. Then, we’ll turn our attention to the workplace and see how we can foster these natural abilities and accelerate our skills as leaders.

What is emotional awareness of others?

Have you ever noticed that a friend is acting differently? Perhaps they seem particularly withdrawn that day or they’re given short and unresponsive answers to your questions. If you are like most people, you’ll become sensitive to their change in mood and adapt your behaviour accordingly.

You’ll change the tone of your voice, adapt your body language and even change how you communicate with this person in order to support them to feel their best.

This is emotional awareness of others in action. It’s the ability to look outwards from your own emotions to recognise how those around you are feeling, demonstrate empathy and adapt your behaviour accordingly.

We don’t only use these skills when we are providing support to a friend but also in many areas of our lives, usually without even being aware of it.

We deal with an angry customer and adapt our behaviour in order to successfully defuse the conflict. We notice that our colleagues or team members are involved in a dispute and we aim to resolve it. We comfort our children when they are upset about a difficult situation and do our best to help them.

Emotional awareness of others as a leader

If you can nurture this awareness and extend it to the workplace, you can create a supportive environment for your team and provide your organisation with everything it needs to thrive. It is very much part of leading with empathy.

Do it effectively and you can boost loyalty, promote productivity and motivation, overcome problems, reduce staff turnover, and achieve your desired goals.

However, this can often feel foreign in the workplace. We’ve long been told that leaders should remain business-like and even cold if they want to achieve their objectives. Emotional awareness or displaying a caring attitude is often frowned upon and leaders are expected to be ruthless if they want to achieve success.

Recently, leaders have discovered that this isn’t the case. Team members aren’t robots or machines who are only there to perform but real people with real needs and emotions.

When you can take full consideration of their perspective and understand exactly how they feel, you can support and motivate your team more effectively, you can maintain staff morale and you can help them to achieve their full potential.

How to become more emotionally aware of others

Making the shift to becoming a more emotionally aware leader can be challenging, but it can happen. By being willing to consider these influencing factors, we can optimise our performance at work. Here are some ways you can do this:

1. Step back

Ensure that you are not reacting automatically to a situation or working from pre-existing limiting beliefs. Instead, take the time to reflect and understand why your team members are acting in a particular way.

2. Work on your listening skills

Excellent listening skills are key to learning more about your employees and your organisation and uncovering how you can support them more effectively. Become more present in the moment, slow down and ensure you listen closely to both the facts of the situation and the underlying emotions involved.

3. Repeat what you hear

Part of being a good listener is demonstrating that you understand what is being said by repeating back what you have heard. Using your own words, you will show the listener that you find their opinion and views important and promote greater trust and understanding between team members.

4. Build rapport

Wherever possible, look for similarities between people such as shared goals and beliefs then work to reinforce them to promote team cohesion. Talk to your staff and find out what is important to them, including topics concerning situations in the workplace and their private lives.

5. Watch facial expressions and body language

It’s not just about the words you say. Non-verbal communication such as body language and facial expression also communicate your understanding and help to build that sense of trust between leaders and team members. You should also notice what the body language of others is telling you and watch for times when the words spoken don’t align with their body language. This will provide you with opportunities to delve deeper into the situation and provide more support.

Summary

Developing an emotional awareness of others can help you bring the best out of your employees, pushing your organisation forward and helping it to achieve its goals. If you can foster these skills and apply them in the workplace, you can reduce staff turnover, overcome conflict in the workplace and create a loyal and engaged team.


Lisa Evans helps professionals to develop the soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Lisa is a certified business coach and experienced and accredited trainer, and a professional speaker. Lisa is a GENOS Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, which means she is certified to deliver the GENOS range of Emotional Intelligence Workshops and Developmental Assessments.

She has coached over a thousand leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales, and not-for-profit and community associations.
If you’d like to chat about how Lisa can help your team excel with the right soft skills, please contact us.

Soft Skills Training Workshops include:

The Emotionally Intelligent Leader includes a GENOS 180° leadership assessment.
The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace
Executive Presence for Leaders
Public Speaking for Leaders
The Leader as Storyteller
Communicate with Influence
Improv Skills for Leaders