Not so long ago we were advised to ‘leave our emotions’ at the door when we came to work. It seems that we had deceived ourselves into believing emotions were something we could turn off and on as needed, and there was certainly no room in the workplace for them.
It’s not difficult to see why. As soon as you say the word ‘emotions’ things get a little messy, the mind immediately wanders off to the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum – dysfunctional rage, overwhelming fear or inconsolable sadness. Perhaps you recall a time when your own reaction was completely disproportionate to the issue that triggered your response. We’ve all had moments we regret, those times when we reacted emotionally, rather than responding with the calm and finesse of a buddhist monk.
Emotions simply didn’t sit well with the cold hard logic of business and the command and control leadership style of yesterday.
Today, there’s an abundant body of research that shows how our emotions inform our cognition i.e. our brain’s design makes our emotional state determine our cognitive efficiency.
Sure, it might be easier to reconcile with the necessity of a doctor to have empathy and compassion for a patient, but it’s no less necessary for an SAS soldier to moderate their fear, remain objective, and tolerate stress whilst in the line of fire.
We live in a time of the acceleration of everything, complexity, ambiguity, it’s all part of the new norm. Led by the availability of information and digital transformation our cognitive intelligence, as measured by IQ, has been steadily increasing for the last 100 years. However, rates of burnout, workplace stress and anxiety are rapidly increasing. People are more volatile, more impatient, more likely to fight, flee or freeze.
It’s clear that academic intelligence alone doesn’t correlate with success. Your ability to be mindful of the emotion driven perceptions and behaviours of self and others, while adopting strategies to deeply connect and influence, is what sets you apart as a high performer, and as a leader in particular.
The most effective leaders today attract and engage loyal followers because of these qualities that differentiate us as human beings, not because of positional authority and/or intellectual competencies and attributes. They recognise that emotions are enmeshed in the neural networks of reason. This balance of thinking and feeling ensures better behaviour and decisions for both leaders and followers.
Fortunately for all of us, emotional intelligence competencies can both be measured and developed.
To help understand how emotional intelligence affects your leadership capacity, I would recommend determining your current effectiveness in the following five broad elements.
Self-Perception:this incorporates your ability to differentiate and understand one’s emotions and the impact that has one’s thoughts, actions, and on those of others. It includes understanding and accepting inherent strengths and weaknesses, and your willingness to pursue meaningful goals. Without self-awareness we cannot truly understand who we are, our habitual patterns of thinking and behaviour. Nor can we be aware of our impact on others.
Self-Expression:this involves our ability to express ourselves both verbally and non-verbally in a way that is socially acceptable and non-destructive. It also refers to our range of freedom from the emotional dependence on others. Whilst self-perception is predominantly about our internal world, self-expression is largely about how we assert ourselves and stay true to our authentic self in our decision making and behaviour.
Interpersonal:this refers to our ability to recognise and appreciate other views, behave in respectful ways, and how skilfully we develop and maintain mutually satisfying relationships built on trust and compassion. It’s also refers to our degree of social consciousness and our willingness to contribute to the welfare of others. It goes without saying that you need to communicate effectively and equitably manage relationships to lead and influence.
Decision Making:solving problems and making decisions involves understanding how emotions impact decision making, remaining objective, and one’s ability to avoid rash behaviours and decision making. Being effective in this realm means facing problems head on, whilst maintaining a level head, and being attuned to the biases that form our perceptions.
Stress Management:this refers to our emotional agility as we navigate unfamiliar and unpredictable circumstances, and the degree to which we remain optimistic as we cope with stressful or difficult situations. Success in this realm of emotional intelligence means you are able to remain focussed, resilient and flexible, as you constructively withstand dynamic events and occasional setbacks.
More than an amorphous concept, emotional intelligence is a measurable, learnable set of essential skills that help you engage the hearts and minds of those around you to create healthy, sustainable, and high performing workplaces.
To receive a sample EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment, or to discuss how to develop your leaders using EI assessments, training and coaching, contact Craig today on 0414 772 701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org