Controlling your own emotions during emotional conversations and high stakes situations, and reacting well to the emotional reactions of others, are skills that set great leaders apart from ineffective, mediocre ones.
If you already have this ability, you have a high degree of emotional intelligence. If you do not, and you want to be an effective rainmaker and manager of people, developing emotional intelligence (EI) should be a priority in your professional development plan.
We now know that your intellectual and analytical expertise are not the only aptitudes necessary to produce top performance in business development and leadership roles. Relational skills, being able to modulate your own emotions so as to create rapport and diminish tension, are just as important.
What does it take to be emotionally intelligent?
In 1990, Yale researchers John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey published the first formal definition of emotional intelligence (EI). Their research concluded that a combination of sharp thinking and emotional control produce the most sophisticated analyses and decision-making. Their findings were later cited in the 1995 best-seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, by Daniel Goleman.
- Being aware of your own emotions and those of your listeners.
- Controlling your own emotions in the heat of the moment.
- Understanding how your display of emotions affects the behavior of others.
- Utilizing the best strategies for managing emotional situations.
EI is not a personality trait. It is a cultivated ability that enables you to build strong, loyal relationships, and to listen skillfully to what people are saying — even when it’s criticism — and respond rationally.
Emotional Intelligence inside Law Firms
EI is critical for lawyers to possess. Research shows that law firms prosper when their partners have high EI levels. Emotionally intelligent partners make the best leaders and are most likely to land sought-after clients because they…
- demonstrate empathy,
- build rapport quickly,
- manage their own emotions,
- connect with clients’ values, and
- build lasting relationships based on trust.
A Clear Advantage
Emotionally intelligent lawyers connect with prospective clients, retain their current clients, and lead their teams effectively. With competition for clients getting stiffer by the day, the amount of EI a law firm has at the top can determine which firm thrives and which languish.