With the increase in change, employees are looking for more than just ‘work’ and the quality of our relationships is key to engagement; As leaders we need more than tools, processes and skills. We also need to look at our Emotional Intelligence.
Becoming more aware of your own emotions and knowing how to use them to drive better quality decision making is critical in your leadership.
Here are 5 areas you can focus on to improve your EQ
Develop Your Self Awareness
How self-aware are you? Do you know your ‘triggers’ and what puts you in a good or bad mood? This could be a person, a word, a tone of voice, a look. Knowing what pushes your buttons in either a good way or a bad way is very useful.
For example when I’m teaching influencing, we talk about how we are influenced, not just how can we influence others better. The more self aware you are, the more you know when you’re being swayed one way or the other. The more you can make a conscious choice as to what you want to do.
The same goes for your emotions. You hear a word, you have an emotional reaction, and then you find yourself behaving in a certain way. This response is a reaction. The more self aware you are, the more you can choose how you respond rather than react. Stephen Covey called this response-ability.
“It ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it.”
What about the impact of your communication style on others? We have our own preferred style. There are 4, (we teach these in our communication skills course) and a common reaction from leaders I’ve shared this with is, “now I get why that person and I don’t seem to get on”. It’s not our personalities; it’s the way we prefer to communicate. And you can learn to flex your communication style. Leaders with high EQ do this a lot.
½ full ½ empty
As a leader, your attitude is everything. Seeing the glass as ½ empty, talking about the risks and downsides, what’s wrong, who’s to blame, why it can’t be done. This has a hidden cost. Not only are you miserable to work for, but your pessimism is contagious. You’re training others to think and talk this way.
Train your mind to see the positive first. What’s working, what’s right, what could be done better. I’m not suggesting that we never consider the risks and look at what could go wrong so we can safeguard against it. However think of it as balance.
Your brain when your emotions are one of despair, frustration, anger works differently to when you’re hopeful or happy. It means your thought process is different as different bits of your brain are active dependant on the emotion. Because of this, your level of resourcefulness and resilience is affected. And ultimately your decision making is altered, so your decisions are different. Have you ever looked back and wondered why you made some choice you now label as crazy… what was your predominant emotional state on the run-up to that decision?
So to make better choices and use your emotions wisely. Look at the possibility first, then make a choice. Then run your choice through a risk assessment.
I’m not talking about being liked or being social. It’s not about tailoring what you say or do so that people like you, if doing that means the message is lost. Neither does this mean you have to attend social events if you don’t want to. The latter in some cases can be a minefield, especially if you used to be peers with these people.
Approachable people have a ready smile to their face; they say hello and when they ask you how you are, they’re actually listening to your answer. They’re good at being involved in the conversation, not just talking about themselves. We also usually describe these people as supportive.
Emotionally intelligent people have a focus on developing and improving their leadership skills; regularly and frequently. It’s not something they did at the beginning of their career. It’s not a course organised by HR. They take leadership as a skill seriously, not an add-on when they get chance to their other skills.
Great leaders know it’s not just what they’re doing, but how they are being and who they are being while they do what they do, that’s key to long term success. And never has it been easier to unlock leadership potential, either in person or from the comfort of your office.