“IQ and technical skills are important, but emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership” – Daniel Goleman
I read that more than 75% of leaders think they’re doing a good job of engaging their people, yet nearly 9 out of ten employees say their leaders are doing a bad job engaging them. I also read that many employees would willingly trade a salary increase for a new leader! (2) I believe self-controlled emotionally balanced leaders do a better job of connecting and engaging the people they lead.
“Emotional Intelligence,” “EI” for short, comes down to understanding your feelings, and how to manage them. Understanding and managing your emotions allows you to be more empathic with others – a necessity for good leadership.
Consider the impact a high level of self-awareness makes in a leader’s ability to handle conflict resolutions, negotiating the terms of contracts, and bringing out the best in others. With a higher level of emotional intelligence, you can better regulate relationships and effectively plan projects with the right people in place.
You Can Improve on Emotional Intelligence
The journey of self-discovery begins by taking responsibility for how we think, speak, and behave. E.E. Cummings says, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
As a lifelong learner, I followed good advice and began by observing my behavior in all circumstances, monitoring my self-talk, and above all learning to respond instead of reacting to people and situations.
“Discovering who you are today is the first step to being who you will be tomorrow.” – Destiny’s Odyssey
Here are five areas I began with, they have been and still are a great help to me. These five areas are not the end all, but they make for a good start.
1. Practice Logical Thinking
You can manage your emotions by training yourself to think rationally and logically under pressure. I cannot overstate the importance of effectively managing your emotions (positive or negative). Riding too high or sinking too low can cloud your judgment. The ability to regulate what you’re feeling allows you to think clearly.
You can manage your emotions in any situation by examining the facts before you instead of anticipating consequences. Focusing on the facts allows you to consider your options and puts you in control of your choices.
Practicing this type of non-attachment allows you to express your feelings and concerns without being overwhelmed by them. That kind of self-control carries tremendous influence with your team.
2. Developing Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is knowing yourself, your highs and lows, what makes you happy or sad or even mad. There can be no personal development without self-awareness. Early in my journey of lifelong learning I discovered that I could only help others grow to the degree I grow myself, this is, in essence, is the law of the lid. I found that the more I understood myself, the better I understood others.
I began to study myself, noting what triggered which emotions, what energized and what drained me. I took surveys, assessments, asked trusted advisors their observations and opinions. I wasn’t always pleased with the answers or discoveries, but I did learn a lot about myself.
I was surprised to find that the more I learned and accepted the truth the more comfortable I became with who I am. The more you know yourself, the easier it becomes to build rapport with others.
It’s simple common sense, I cannot change what I am unaware of, Carl Jung says, “Until the unconscious becomes conscious, it will continue to govern your life, and you will call it fate” – Ouch!
3. Personal Decision-Making
It’s important to understand that the decisions we make, make us. Our choices define us. Are you sometimes tempted to put off making difficult decisions? Develop the habit of taking personal responsibility for your choices. Every leader knows that nothing happens if nothing changes. Procrastination undermines leadership and erodes confidence.
a) It’s true that failure to prepare is to prepare for failure, so take the issues that require your decision one at a time. Do your homework, gather what you need to know, list your options, discuss them with your most trusted advisors, and make your decision.
b) Examine and reflect on the outcomes and go from there, you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process. You will be amazed how this boosts your self-confidence and develops decision-making skills.
Reading, identifying, and processing your feelings helps you to read and respond to the feelings of those around you. Learn to journal what you discover and develop an action plan for change. Think of how your family, friends, and those in your organization will benefit from you knowing what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling that way, and expressing your feelings positively.
Imagine how effectively you’ll connect with others when you can understand and relate to what they’re feeling. Understanding where you’re coming from enables you to understand and empathize with others. People work better when they know that those they’re working with “get them.”
(1) Featured image from “A Leaders Mind” Shawn Markow http://www.aleadersmind.com/
(2) Adapted from https://www.potentialproject.com/books/the-mind-of-the-leader/