Leaders had to adapt and improve their leadership skills during the COVID-crisis quickly. The only constant we are facing is uncertainty, yet we are asked to lead our teams and organisations with confidence and make courageous decisions.
Our people are now working in a blended world trying to balance work and family and are facing change that impacts every inch of their lives. It is evident that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has become one of the most important tools in our leadership toolkit.
But what is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, express, reason with and manage emotions with oneself and others. Applied to leadership emotional intelligence is about how intelligent you are at using emotions to get positive results.
I am working with a client who leads a regional team of senior leaders in the aviation industry in Asia. We have been coaching together for a few years and I have witnessed a constant improvement in her ability to not only manage her own emotions but also tuning into other people and lead them with empathy and diplomacy – not only her reporting team, she also uses EQ well when dealing with peers and stakeholders. Using that superpower and supercharging it in these times of crisis has enabled her to stay connected with her remote team and helped her to keep her people motivated and calm.
In times of crisis we increasingly have to deal with emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, frustration and loneliness. These emotions are heightened and often hold us back from moving forward, make decisions and communicate effectively.
Emotional Intelligence is a key skill for leaders to stay strong and resilient, especially in times of stress, uncertainty and anxiety. Our emotions drive our thoughts and in turn drive our behaviours. We don’t want to let our emotions take over but rather show up with intent and under control. Daniel Goleman describes EQ like this: ‘Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional intellectual growth.’ Practicing EQ starts with creating awareness of our emotions and managing emotions that reflect deliberate behaviour.
Some helpful strategies are mindfulness, breathing, journaling, reflecting, discussing and asking for feedback. When we can manage our own emotions, we have the capacity lead our people and help them with their emotions (Social Intelligence; tuning into other people). The skills we develop when we are emotionally intelligent enable us to lead with a clear head and a strong heart.
There are some key skills we need to apply in times of crisis
How do we move into Social Intelligence, tuning into other people and helping them to be happier and more productive? It all starts with us, our self-awareness and ability to manage our own emotions first. There is no Social Intelligence without Emotional Intelligence. We then have to be able to adapt, understand our counterpart, their situation, behaviour and communication style. Powerful listening and applying empathy is the ‘tuning in part’ of Social Intelligence. Taking the time to listen for the emotions and energies of our team member, asking open questions and creating space to reflect. Being a strong communicator, either giving feedback, communicating a tough message, motivating, guiding, mentoring or offering solutions comes much easier when you follow the process of EQ and SQ first. The problem is that often we dive right into communication. We are, after all, advice-giving maniacs and want to come up with solutions and share our opinion right away.
Applying Emotional and Social Intelligence helps to understand and empower ourselves and the people we lead.
- Powerful listening
- Strong Communication
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