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Lead the pack: Why emotional intelligence is the key to automotive leadership

Emotional intelligence plays a huge role in making and maintaining connections.

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional quotient or simply EQ, is important in any workplace but especially comes in handy at a car dealership—as any job there requires flexibility, effective communication, and stellar sales etiquette. EQ is especially critical for managers because people in leadership roles must also have critical thinking skills that help them solve problems and adapt to the changes happening with their own staff and the auto industry overall.

Simply stated, EQ is a crucial skill needed when managing teams. Dealerships can be high-pressure work environments, and leaders can benefit from being able to identify their teams’ varying emotions to determine the best way to motivate them. This includes being able to communicate effectively when dealing with the never-ending changes in the industry and making sure team members can adapt to new procedures and technologies seamlessly.

Another benefit of leaders who are able to apply EQ to the dealership is they have the ability to resolve conflicts successfully. Conflict resolution skills have always been a requirement in any workplace, as conflicts are expected to arise at some point. Stellar EQ skills allow leaders to solve issues while being fair to all sides of the conflict.

Of course, dealers want to have solid customer relationships, and emotional intelligence plays a huge role in making and maintaining connections. People working in sales in virtually any industry find more success when they are able to empathize with clients and customers and truly care about their specific wants. This, of course, increases trust and forms stronger bonds.

There are plenty of benefits of EQ, but many leaders are curious about how to implement them. One of the best EQ practices is improving self-awareness. Leaders should look at how their emotions affect themselves and their team members, especially during times of high pressure, conflicts, and stress. Of course, responding in a calmer, more rational way to these situations can make the workplace more peaceful and a better work environment for the rest of the team.

As mentioned, being able to empathize with others is another important aspect of EQ. This includes having empathy for customers and team members, as acknowledging their feelings and needs can lead to more meaningful connections. In addition, showing appreciation for both employees and customers makes them feel valued and encourages them to keep coming back, therefore increasing employee retention and bringing in more business. Improving communication skills can be very beneficial to leaders, too, as it allows them to both express themselves and listen to other people thoroughly.

Many prominent leaders report they engage in some sort of meditation, mindfulness, or breathing practice that helps them regulate their emotions and reduce their stress. Another best EQ practice is leaders actually asking for feedback on their EQ skills, as this can help them identify what they need to work on.

There is growing evidence that EQ best practices are extremely important to a leadership role. For example, one Stanford study found that 90% of leaders whose businesses failed did not possess strong interpersonal skills, which demonstrates that the relationship-forming and communication skills that fall under the EQ umbrella are absolutely critical to success.

The Center for Creative Leadership noted that four key components of EQ include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, which are each crucial to success in a leadership position. Another study revealed that leaders with high EQs saw a 139 percent higher return on investment (ROI) than leaders with low EQs.

Individuals seeking leadership positions may also be more likely to be hired if they have high EQ skills, as a CareerBuilder study from 2011 found that “seventy-one percent [of hiring managers] said they value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ.” Additionally, a TalentSmart study found that leaders with high EQs also benefited financially as they bring in around $29,000 more annually than their counterparts with low EQs.

Ultimately, cultivating a positive environment in a dealership can be challenging at times, but leaders who exhibit strong emotional intelligence skills are more likely to run their dealerships in successful and profitable ways.

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Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News, with over a decade of experience specializing in automotive, healthcare, and manufacturing. She enjoys working with industry professionals throughout the world to develop engaging, and accurate content.

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