If you have done any reading or studying about the shared characteristics of highly effective leaders, you have no doubt read about emotional intelligence — a phrase coined by two psychologists and academicians, John Mayer, of the University of New Hampshire, and Peter Salovey of Yale University and made popular by Danial Goleman in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership, and it is equally essential for cultivating a workplace culture of peace — a culture that fosters human security and dignity. There are four core domains and competencies associated with emotional intelligence outlined in the chart below.

Social awareness and relationship management are critical to creating a workplace of peace, and these are perhaps the two most challenging emotional intelligence competencies because they require that we not only take responsibility for ourselves, but that we are also willing and able to assume responsibility for managing and assisting in the emotional experiences of others.

Social Awareness

Empathy is a critical skill associated with social awareness, and it means that we are able to recognize the emotions of others, acknowledge them, share in them, and extend supporting energy toward others. Empathy is a powerful and potentially transformative approach to connecting with another person in a way that promotes safety, security, and dignity. Social awareness requires that we not only acknowledge that emotions are an essential element of a person, but that we also embrace our emotions and those of our colleagues. And this is something we have typically been conditioned to not do in the workplace. Consequently, our avoidance of emotions causes consistent and often chronic workplace conflict.

Relationship Management 

Social awareness is the recognition of others’ emotional experiences and relationship management is where the “assuming responsibility” piece comes in. Emotional triggers in the workplace typically occur when we have experienced some form of an assault on our dignity. Perhaps a key element of our identity is challenged, we perceive some form of injustice has occurred, or we have a perception of unfairness or disrespect. Relationship management cultivates peace by functioning as a “course correction” tool that moves the organization and the individuals back to a space of security and dignity whenever something within the workplace system has gone off course or when an individual within the system behaves in a manner that causes destructive disruption. Relationship management requires courage to assert oneself into the role of mentor, coach, influencer, etc., and the vulnerability to create a space of safety and security. It requires that we are able to authentically experience our own emotions, be willing to lean into the emotions of others, and operate with an open heart and open mind and from a place of compassion.

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned, and our ability to grow as emotionally intelligent leaders is without limits. As we become more intentional in the deployment of social awareness and social management skills, we will by default create a more peaceful workplace.

Peace in the workplace matters. Peace is an essential criteria for cultivating the highest potential from the individuals and teams within the organization and fostering a high-performing workforce that innovates with enthusiasm.

Learn more about how you can illuminate paths to peace in your organization at www.RobynShort.com.

An international speaker, peace-building trainer and mediator with expertise in restorative justice and transformative mediation models, Robyn Short works with individuals, corporations, and nonprofit organizations in discovering the root causes of their conflicts, so they may transform their relationships and create new and productive paths forward individually and as teams. In addition to her mediation and conflict training practice, Robyn is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in the Master of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution program, the Master of Leadership and Negotiation at Bay Path University, and El Centro Conflict Management program. She has guest lectured at Pepperdine University and Creighton University. Robyn has authored three books on peace building and currently serves on Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s advisory board for the Women of the World for World Peace conference and on the board of Peacemakers, Inc.