Is emotional intelligence the ultimate soft skill your managers need to succeed?

James Lawson

Aug 16, 2023

Is emotional intelligence the ultimate soft skill your managers need to succeed?


In the pursuit of exceptional talent, the power of emotional intelligence shouldn't be overlooked.

Alongside technical expertise and work experience, a candidate's emotional intelligence in the workplace plays a pivotal role in their ability to lead and connect with others. When interviewing for managerial positions, assessing a candidate's emotional intelligence is as important as evaluating their technical skills and work experience. Emotional intelligence in the workplace entails being self-aware, managing emotions effectively, and demonstrating empathy and understanding towards others. It plays a critical role in establishing positive work relationships, problem-solving, and fostering teamwork.

Managers with a high level of emotional intelligence in the workplace can help create a collaborative culture, motivate their employees, and prioritise open communication. They can be empathetic, perceptive, and responsive to the needs of their team members. By emphasising emotional intelligence, leaders promote effective leadership, enhance team dynamics, and cultivate a positive work environment. To identify the ideal candidate who aligns with the company's values, it is essential to incorporate well-crafted interview questions and keen observation to gauge a candidate as far as possible in this respect.

Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in the workplace. Employers should actively seek out individuals who not only possess technical expertise but also demonstrate strong emotional intelligence skills. It is possible to enhance emotional intelligence through training programmes, enhancing communication, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence abilities. However, some candidates naturally excel in emotional intelligence. So, if you are a candidate preparing for interviews, it's important to showcase your understanding of emotions, empathy towards others, and your ability to build and manage relationships effectively. These qualities will set you apart from the competition.

Emotional intelligence is the key to better communication, collaboration and conflict resolution. It can help employers create high-performing agile leadership teams to overcome any challenges. It can also help cultivate a dynamic working environment with empowered employees helping each other achieve their true potential.

So let’s dig a little deeper on emotional intelligence in the workplace to see if it really is the ultimate soft skill, and how we can identify it in candidates.

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?

Having a high level of emotional intelligence is not only crucial for managing internal dynamics but also plays a significant role in external interactions. It’s crucial in the supplier negotiation process, as the ability to understand and manage emotions, both one's own and those of others, can lead to more successful working partnerships & outcomes. It can be called upon to help successfully negotiate with suppliers, improving working relationships leading to better results for all parties involved.

Relationship building with colleagues is underpinned by emotional intelligence, as having the ability to empathise, being patient, and communicate effectively helps businesses overcome the many diverse challenges they face. Individuals can understand the perspectives of their colleagues, manage interpersonal dynamics, and work towards collaborative solutions. Additionally, emotional intelligence promotes a productive and collaborative workplace by fostering pleasant and supportive relationships among employees.

The use of emotional intelligence in the workplace goes far beyond the four walls of a single office, it facilitates leading to more positive results. 

The importance of a 'learning mindset'

An important attribute for those in leadership roles is a 'learning mindset.' Unlike the widely recognised 'growth mindset,' which focuses on the belief in infinite learning possibilities, a learning mindset is about taking action, and continuously acquiring new knowledge and skills. It goes beyond a mere belief and reflects a proactive approach to seeking learning opportunities and embracing personal and professional growth. 

Leaders with a learning mindset are committed to ongoing development and are motivated to apply their knowledge and insights to drive positive change within the company. This creates a culture of continuous improvement and inspire their teams to achieve their full potential.

Emotionally intelligent people are more likely to want to keep on learning rather than settling to stay where they are. This includes learning from mistakes and also reframing a mistake as an opportunity. 

Leaders with a learning mindset also create more leaders in their wake, though a learning environment needs to be cultivated in the workplace. Let’s look at some of the other traits to help you identify emotional intelligence in a candidate.

How to Identify Emotional Intelligence in Candidates

As more and more employers seek to develop a higher level of soft skills among their workforce, it is important to be able to identify candidates who already possess soft skills like emotional intelligence. We can do this by understanding the typical traits of emotionally intelligent people, these include;

  • A strong sense of self-awareness
  • Empathy for others
  • Balanced perspectives
  • Attentive listening
  • Conflict management
  • Receptive to feedback
  • Curious and eager to learn
  • Instinctively collaborative

It’s important to be able to recognise these traits in an interview setting. Questions can be structured to see if the candidate demonstrates self-awareness and empathy for other people, or they can also be about how the candidate feels about feedback to see if they mention using it to improve. 

Here are some markers to look out for;

  • Do they listen attentively?
  • Do they prefer to solve a problem by themselves, or find a collaborative solution?
  • Can they provide an example of a time when they effectively managed their emotions in a challenging work situation?
  • How do they handle feedback and criticism? Are they open to feedback and able to respond constructively?
  • Can they describe a situation where they demonstrated empathy and understanding towards a colleague?
  • How do they handle stress and pressure? Can they share strategies they used to stay calm and focused during demanding times?

These questions serve as markers to observe and assess various aspects of emotional intelligence in candidates. It's essential to consider them within the context of the specific role and organisation you are hiring for.

Do you need help identifying emotional intelligence in prospective employees? Our recruitment solutions include 1st stage video interviewing by our consultants skilled in identifying the talent you need to succeed. Get in touch here.