The Emotionally Intelligent Leader
Have you ever wondered why some leaders thrive and others struggle? I have interviewed dozens of very smart leaders who never reach their desired or predicted impact. For the better part of a decade, I have been researching, reading and dialoging with successful leaders about the “other” type of intelligence they use in their leadership responsibilities. In the past decade we have now realized and coined another form of intelligence that seems to be even more important to success than conventional cognitive intelligence: Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Many of the characteristics of emotional intelligence are related to the softer side of leadership. However, emotional intelligence is much, much more. In many ways, emotional intelligence has become a whole new way of thinking about the effectiveness of leaders and employees as it relates to their ability to be successful in the work-place. This new research is providing work-place employees as well as leaders and executive teams with a very practical, skill-building language and set of tools to take advantage of those skills that, at one time, may have been perceived as unmeasurable or unattainable.
There are three things that every leader needs to be skilled at doing to navigate the mysteries of workplace emotionality.
- Be Self-Aware: Recognizing and accepting your own emotional experiences will give you the best chance of developing your EI. Hi-Low Technique: Daily log your emotional experiences. For beginners, just rate each day’s high points and low points. Examine when, where, and with whom you had the experiences. This information should provide valuable clues for understanding your own emotions.
- Choose Your Emotion: Remember that your emotions are just descriptors that are sending messages to your brain for review. You are at the helm and have a choice in the expression of your emotions.
ABC Technique: This technique is based on cognitive psychology. First, identify the A “Activating” event that has disrupted your emotions. Then, identify the B “Belief” you are holding about that event. Next, examine the C “Consequence” of the belief. The goal is to re-examine the belief about the event to determine if the consequence is worth retaining the belief. This is about the power to choose your own responses.
- Disarm Other’s Extreme Emotions: This is a great skill to have. Learn how to absorb the intensity of other person’s emotions while methodically disabling the power they give to them.
Leadership can no longer be seen as a position, or in many ways, as a goal. Leadership is dynamic, responsive, and organic. Anyone choosing to accept this mysterious but rewarding experience will need to understand the complexities of emotional intelligence both in themselves as well as others. Emotional intelligence is not a fad or the greatest or latest way to think about workplace activities. Emotional intelligence will be the new benchmark for leadership greatness for many years to come, only being subservient to the possibility of the growing awareness of social and spiritual intelligence that is already gaining popularity. If you are reading this article and aspire to leadership greatness, I invite you to join in the adventure of exploring the EI landscape, and as always as a leader, it starts with you.
Great leaders are simply awesome human beings. That’s the belief held by Dr. Doug McKinley, psychologist and leadership development expert and Managing Partner at Xcellero Leadership. McKinley earned a Doctoral Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Over the past 15 years, McKinley has worked with Fortune 500 executives, small business leaders, nonprofit leaders and churches to find the best version of themselves. Each person has specific psychological markers and drivers that define how they’re motivated and how they can accelerate their personal growth into becoming the best version of themselves. “By nature, humans drift toward stagnation not growth,” says McKinley. “You can choose to accelerate personal development and growth or you can wait for it to happen. However, it’s at the point of accelerated growth that companies and leaders both prosper and that’s our goal with our clients.”