Denise O’Brien from Shannon-based O’Brien Learning Solutions, educates readers on career, management, team leadership, development and more.
EMOTIONAL intelligence in the workplace, whilst not a new concept by any means, is still something that gets a bit of a bad rap, or at the very least can be misunderstood.
Emotion and management / leadership are two words that do not tend to come into the same sentence. In most workplaces, people are likely to try to leave their emotions at the door. And whilst I must qualify that being emotionally intelligent isn’t about displaying emotions inappropriately, I think the ‘leave your emotional self’ at the door is a limiting approach. Research published in ‘Frontiers in Psychology’ (2019) mentioned that more than 85 per cent of senior leaders owe their outstanding performance to emotional intelligence (EQ) rather than intelligence (IQ).
Bring to mind any leader whom you admire. What is the one trait that I would wager that all of these great leaders have in common? It is an ability to stay calm under pressure. This is a key skill of the emotionally intelligent leader. Why is this a key trait of inspirational leaders? Well, let’s flip the question around and ask; who wants to work for an emotionally frazzled leader or manager?
A poll conducted by Gallup in the U.S. found that leaving a bad manager was the number one reason why workers quit, with 75 per cent of those who left voluntarily doing so because of their boss and not the job itself. This does not mean of course, that people don’t leave jobs for other reasons, such as better opportunities, personal growth, or work-life balance.
Daniel Goleman, seen as the forefather of the corporate emotional intelligence movement, wrote a book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995. Goleman defined emotional intelligence (EI) as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”. His model of EI includes five essential elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. This definition emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in personal and professional success, as well as its impact on relationships and overall well-being.
His theory also points out that an initial need or desire for change is a requirement for growth in this area. To reach this point, a person has usually faced a dilemma where their ‘go to’ approach for dealing with the day-today challenges of life, is simply not working anymore. His theory suggests that those with developed levels of emotional intelligence will not only know what their triggers are, but that they will also have the skills to re-regulate their emotions to allow for appropriate action at the appropriate time and in the appropriate setting.
The good news he suggests, is that these skills can be worked on, and even perfected over time.
You might now wonder; how can I start to become more emotionally intelligent today? Start by noticing how you are feeling throughout the day. Notice the highs, the lows and the in between, and then become curious as to how your feelings impact your mood and your behaviour. This alone would be an excellent starting point.
Remember, even one per cent more self-awareness today than you had yesterday is progress!
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