In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize your own feelings, as well as how others feel, and then manage these emotions. Now, if you're like me, emotions are to be avoided in the workplace. It would be great if everyone could just do their job and go home. However, it's important to remember that your employees are people, not just capital. Emotional intelligence helps us to recognize this and adapt our behavior accordingly.
So how do you develop emotional intelligence? That's a class in itself. However, here's some basic tips to get started.
1. Know Thyself
The first step is to get to know your own personality and tendencies. You can't be aware of how you interact with others if you're not self-aware. I'm a big fan of personality assessments- with a grain of salt of course. You can't put people into nice, neat categories. However, these assessments can give you an idea of your basic tendencies. I enjoy Meyer-Briggs (I'm an INTJ) and Wired That Way (I'm a powerful with perfect tendencies). You can find free versions of these online.
2. Be Aware of Others
Once you're aware of yourself, start observing how others in your workplace behave. Maybe your admin responds well to being praised publicly, but your introverted IT guy would rather you CC his boss on an email thanking him. As you get to know others, you can modify your behavior to best relate to them and create a harmonious workplace.
3. Don't Stop Growing
Pick one area to grow your emotional intelligence and go from there. I recommend starting with a book on the topic- Daniel Goleman's text is the classic recommendation, but it can be a bit dry, so I like The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook to start. Find one area for growth and start there, then slowly add more goals.