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Words on Wise Management

Leading With Emotional Intelligence

February 23, 2016

“75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”

—The Center for Creative Leadership

It does not matter what your IQ is or how smart you are. To be a successful leader, you need much more than a high IQ.

Many times when people hear the words “emotional intelligence” (EI), they perceive it as too “touchy feely.” But it is not that at all. People are and always will be driven by their emotions. As a leader, you must understand how emotions come into play in your place of business every day. Emotions drive people, and people drive your business.

Managing yourself

As leaders, we often get irritated and angry when someone doesn’t do a task correctly or something doesn’t work out the way we intended. How do you express yourself? Is there a situation that you wish you could have handled better? Have you ever said something you immediately wished you could take back? One of the first steps to having a high EI is managing yourself. It is impossible to manage other people if we do not have the ability to manage ourselves.

Teaching opportunity

EI can be used to your advantage. For example, if one of your team members makes a mistake, instead of jumping straight to anger, use the opportunity to help that person grow and improve your business. In other words, don’t attack; teach. By using your EI wisely, you can turn those situations into teaching opportunities. If you blow up every time someone makes a mistake, there is a good chance you are killing the creativity of the people you lead. Instead of coming down hard on employees, constructively suggest ways they could have handled the issue better.

Know your triggers

One of the keys to using your EI effectively is understanding your trigger points. Trigger points are the feelings you have just before your emotions make a huge shift. If those triggers go unnoticed and their emotions swing, leaders often react to a situation rather than respond to it. That results in handling the situation in a less productive manner. If you are like the majority of leaders, your team knows your patterns better than you do. When you identify those patterns and choose to respond instead of react, you will be more effective in your leadership role.

Responding vs. reacting

The next time you are confronted with someone or something that makes you feel strong emotions (such as anger), try these tips:

  • Pay attention to what your body feels as you experience the emotions. This will give you an indication of your trigger point.
  • Ask yourself, “How do I normally react?” and “How should I respond?” In other words, say this instead of that. Are you truly engaged with the person with whom you are interacting, or is your body language saying something different?
  • Try to separate yourself from the situation for five seconds to give yourself time to think before reacting. A good way to do this is visualizing stepping onto an escalator and riding down for five seconds before speaking.

Trying those tips and using your EI in an effective manner will result in a better leadership style for both you and your team.

Jimmy Daniel is a talent management strategist with F&H Solutions Group.