By Nan Nan Liu-Maffetone | Strong Female Leaders | Reading Time: Five Minutes
Why does servant leadership require emotionally intelligent leaders?
Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to keep calm in stressful situations, form stronger and longer lasting relationships with their team members, create a progressive and understanding culture, and serve others better. To become an emotionally intelligent leader, you can develop emotional intelligence with intention to change. So how do you start? Scroll down to find some of the steps that you can take towards making those changes:

1. Practice Active Listening
The difference between active listening and simplying hearing words lies in that you are fully engaged throughout the conversation. You are not distracted by texts, emails, or even the birds chirping outside. When you are actively listening, you give the conversation, the situation and the person you are meeting with unwavering attention.

So how do you keep focused all the time? Each time your mind flutters way, bring it back. Deep breathing helps, by the way. This is an intentional move and requires practice, so take your time.

Also, take notes. You can either bring a note book or take mental notes. Set a goal to write down three to five things that you just learned, problems that the conversation just exposed, variations of the situation from other points of view, and a few solutions that you can offer. Before the conversation ends, collect as much information as you can, and don't feel pressured to speak too soon. When it is your turn to speak, fight the urge to give your two cents right away by asking questions. This helps to unfold the true intention of the conversation. Perhaps the person doesn't need a solution and simply needs to vent? Perhaps there are bigger, more complicated underlying issues? Or, perhaps there is nothing to worry about at all?

The golden rule? Ask as many questions as you can, with a minimum of five to ten. Each conversation has its own context. At the beginning of any given conversation, everyone starts on the same intellectual and power level. The most knowledgeable and influential person emerges later on and is not always the one with the highest IQ or a pretentious title, nor is she the loudest and most talkative. She is the person who is the most focused and has been actively listening, and her solutions are precise, resolute and almost effortless, because her mind is executing with every single piece of information.
2. Be Empathetic
Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to put themselves in others' perspectives. They are patient, kind, and always see situations in objective views. They never react on the spot and let their own emotions get in the way. Though being empathetic sounds easy to do, it takes practice to check your own ego at the door. You may have heard it being called "active empathy," because to be truly empathetic, you have to actively and habitually practice it. The benefit of having an empathetic leader is a calmer, more pleasant and more productive environment that all team members can be happy and thrive in.
3. Pay Attention to Body Language
Much of today's communication bears through body language. High-EQ leaders pay attention to the body language of their teams, clients, supreriors and most importantly, themselves. Simple gestures such as crossing the arms, blinking repeatedly and pressing of the lips convey a lot about someone's emotional state at the time. Recognizing body language and the underlying emotion may signal for your intervention to guide the conversation towards a more productive disposition.

And what about your own body language? Emotionally intelligent leaders pay the most attention to their own body language. Knowing how much their expressions and gestures can alter the mood of the situation, they often lead with strong and positive body language to set the tone for others.

4. Prioritize Self Care
From gratitude journaling to meditation to exercising, emotionally intelligent leaders prioritize self care before everything else. They undertand the importance of mental health and how a healthy mindset improves awareness, clarity and self control. Not only do they purposefully prioritize self care, they do it with diligence. Many of them schedule it into their daily routines. Some even take days off of work specifically as "self care time off." Their efforts show in the way they serve others by handling tough situations with grace and care. In turn, they build a much stronger and healthier team.
5. Balance Work and Life
Not only do emotionally intelligent leaders balance their own work and life, they also motivate their team members to do the same. Taking breaks from high-pressure situations, implementing methods to avoid work place burnout, and promoting healthy habits like rest and recovery are important to these leaders. They also want the same for their teams. They understand the value of their people, and would never sacrafice opportunities that keep team members happy, healthy and productive.
Parting thhoughts
To serve others well, you must be able to understand and connect with people. Not only does emotional intelligence help you be a better leader, it also helps in other areas in your life. Furthermore, it helps you set an example for your successors, and create a culture of high-EQ teams.

Visualize this: a team of highly motivated, highly aware, and highly engaged contributors, working together and creating a better future for the organization, its customers and the community. That is what emotional intelligence can achieve, and it starts with you.
1) Learn more about servant leadership with Simon Sinek's Leaders Eat Last

2) Find the power in servant leadership with The Power of Servant Leadership

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