Organizational Behavior has been changing for decades. The era of the industrial revolution focused on mass production and economies of scale. This led organizations to concentrate on standardization, hence an Age of Execution. In the 1950s, as the digital revolution seeped in, profitability shifted its scope to value creation and optimization. The Age of Expertise lasted well. However, now the paradigm is shifting again. The advent of AI, remote working models, COVID-19, human welfare development, design thinking, and a culture of innovation has led to the beginning of an Age of Empathy for organizations. With the changing dynamics of organizational behavior, leadership must adapt to ensure growth and profitability.
The initial theory of ‘A Great Man’ as a leader became redundant when Gordon Allport gave ‘The Trait Theory’ that explained leaders have a certain set of attributes. The Contingency Theory by Fred E. Fiedler argued that leadership effectiveness is situational. A leadership style that fits one situation can fail in another. There is no ultimate good leader for all situations. With time and research, multiple types of leadership began to surface: Democratic, Aristocratic, Laissez-faire, Transformational, Transactional, Process-Oriented, and People-Oriented. In this Age of Empathy, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a significant leadership characteristic. Workplaces are becoming more aware of their employees. The human-centric approach is replacing the product-centric mindset. The concept of work-from-home and virtual teams across the globe has made it mandatory for a leader to be emotionally available to their team.
Goleman proposed a competency-based model of Emotional Intelligence, especially formulated for workplaces. This model used 20 competencies of a potential candidate to explain the level of EI. These competencies come under the following key characteristics, also known as Key Components of EI
It is the skill to know your own emotions and the underlying reasons behind these feelings. Leaders are self-aware of their capabilities and potential. They also know how their emotions impact others. This self-awareness helps them in responding logically to conflicts and adverse situations. They know their strengths and weaknesses and can influence outcomes.
The ability to regulate one’s own emotions effectively is crucial. Once a person is self-aware, they can manage their own emotions in difficult situations. Leaders with high self-management act as a pillar in difficult times and provide constant support to the team. They embrace change and effectively manage challenging situations. They remain calm in a storm and thus make rational decisions.
The ability to perceive and recognize emotional patterns in groups accurately is essential. A person reads others through body language, voice tone, and vibe. Great leaders are socially aware. They can instantly pick up on what others feel and respond in a manner that is suitable for the situation. Leaders with high social awareness are lead communicators, motivators, and influencers. Under their leadership, teams thrive, decisions are made through mutual discussion, and a culture of trust and accountability develops.
Leaders with high EI are intrinsically motivated. They are driven by purpose and possess the desire to succeed. They set the bar high and plan to achieve it. They have charisma that influences others to do better. They are motivators to their team and their biggest supporters. They develop a culture of positive competition and growth.
The ability to be aware of the emotional needs of others is empathy. It is a key leadership trait. It helps leaders to build strong relationships with their peers. It is said that kindness goes a long way. People trust an empathic leader and give their level best to their agendas.
A leader with a high EI is an asset to the organization. They can perceive the emotions of others and steer them in the desired direction. They possess the ability to influence others in decision-making processes positively. They can also differentiate between true and false emotions, hence building an environment of trust. They boost employee morale by associating themselves with the team and being empathic to their needs.
Walter and Bruch emphasized through research in their book ‘The Role of Leaders’ Positive Mood and Emotional Intelligence’ that emotionally intelligent leaders appear more charismatic to their followers. They are also good at regulating their positive and negative moods and don’t let it affect their followers. A leader with high Emotional Quotient (EQ) helps in developing common goals, builds motivation among peers, establishes an environment of trust, ensures a flexible decision-making process, increases employee morale, and displays the empathic identity of the organization to the globe. Gardner and Stough have determined a positive correlation between EI & effective leadership.