Learning How to Be More Aware

 

What does a "Perfect Leader," mean to you?

Are you picturing someone who is always calm, no matter what problems he's facing? Or maybe someone easy to talk to and actively listens? Is this Perfect Leader someone who has the complete trust of her staff? Does she always make careful, informed decisions?

If this is what you are picturing, then you are on the right track to understanding Emotional Intelligence and its power in leadership. The next step is embodying it fully and authentically.

 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

 

Emotional intelligence (EI) at the core is quite simple. It is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. Mastering this however, isn’t quite that easy.

People with a high degree of emotional intelligence understand what they're feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.

For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he's under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize EI, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation.
  3. Motivation.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Social skills.

The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these elements, the higher your emotional intelligence. So, let's explore each in more detail and examine how you can grow your EI as a leader.

 

1- SELF-AWARENESS

If you're self-aware, you are always in touch with how you feel, and you understand how your emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you're in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses and it means behaving with humility.

So, what can you do to improve your self-awareness?

  • Keep a journal – If you spend just a few minutes each day writing down your thoughts, this can move you to a higher degree of self-awareness.
  • Slow down – When you experience anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why. Remember, no matter what the situation, you can always choose how you react to it. 

2- SELF-REGULATION

Leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control.

This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader's flexibility and commitment to personal accountability.

So, how can you improve your ability to self-regulate?

  • Know your values – Do you know what values are most important to you?  Do you have clear boundaries on what absolutely will not compromise? Spend some time examining your "code of ethics." If you know what's most important to you, then you probably won't have to think twice when you face a moral or ethical decision – you'll make the right choice.
  • Hold yourself accountable – If you tend to blame others when something goes wrong, stop. Make a commitment to admit to your mistakes and to face the consequences, whatever they are. You'll probably sleep better at night, and you'll quickly earn the respect of those around you.
  • Practice being calm – The next time you're in a challenging situation, be very aware of how you act. Do you relieve your stress by shouting at someone else? Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself. Also, try to write down all of the negative things you want to say, and then rip it up and throw it away. Expressing these emotions on paper (and not showing them to anyone!) is better than speaking them aloud to your team. What's more, this helps you challenge your reactions to ensure that they're fair!

3- MOTIVATION

Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.

How can you improve your motivation?

  • Re-examine why you're doing your job – It's easy to forget what you really love about your career. So, take some time to remember why you wanted this job. If you're unhappy in your role and you're struggling to remember why you wanted it,starting at the root often helps you look at your situation in a new way.

And make sure that your goal statements are fresh and energizing.

Know where you stand – Determine how motivated you are to lead. A leadership motivation  assessment can help you see clearly how motivated you are in your leadership role. If you need to increase your motivation to lead, it directs you to resources that can help.

  • Be hopeful and find something good – Motivated leaders are usually optimistic, no matter what problems they face. Adopting this mindset might take practice, but it's well worth the effort. Every time you face a challenge, or even a failure, try to find at least one good thing about the situation. It might be something small, like a new contact, or something with long-term effects, like an important lesson learned. But there's almost always something positive, if you look for it.

4- EMPATHY

For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it.

If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, then show them you care by being empathic.

How can you improve your empathy?

  • Put yourself in someone else's position – It's easy to support your own point of view. After all, it's yours! But take the time to look at situations from other people's perspectives.  Perceptual positions are useful techniques for doing this.
  • Pay attention to body language – Perhaps when you listen to someone, you cross your arms, move your feet back and forth, or bite your lip. This body language tells others how you really feel about a situation, and the message you're giving is NOT positive! Learning to manage your body language and read the body language of others can be a real asset in a leadership role.  You'll be better able to determine how someone truly feels and send the right message back to them.
  • Respond to feelings – You ask your assistant to work late – again. And although he agrees, you can hear the disappointment in his voice. So, respond by addressing his feelings. Tell him you appreciate how willing he is to work extra hours, and that you're just as frustrated about working late. If possible, figure out a way for future late nights to be less of an issue (for example, give him Monday mornings off).

5- SOCIAL SKILLS

Leaders who do well in the social skills element of Emotional Intelligence are great communicators. They're just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they're experts at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project.

Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. They're rarely satisfied with leaving things as they are, but they don't sit back and make everyone else do the work: They set an example with their own behavior.

So, how can you build social skills?

  • Learn conflict resolution – Leaders must know how to resolve conflicts between their team members, customers, or vendors. Learning conflict resolution skills is vital if you want to succeed.
  • Improve your communication skills – How well do you communicate? Our will help you answer this question, and it will give useful feedback on what you can do to improve.
  • Learn how to praise others – As a leader, you can inspire the loyalty of your team simply by giving praise when it's earned. Learning how to praise others is a fine art, and well worth the effort.

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